Purchase scams starting on Facebook and Instagram are expected to cost UK consumers more than £27m this year alone, according to an analysis by Lloyds Banking Group.
The rising popularity of online shopping has been accompanied by a surge in criminals tricking people into paying for goods and services that don’t exist. Victims are lured in by the promise of cut-price or hard-to-find items, often advertised via social media.
They are asked to send money directly from their account to another account via Faster Payment, which provides little consumer protection when something goes wrong.
New research by Lloyds Banking Group, based on analysis of reported cases among their more than 25 million retail customers, has found that two-thirds (68%) of all purchase scams now start on just two Meta-owned social media platforms - Facebook and Instagram. This accounts for around 40% the total amount lost to this type of scam.
Based on latest industry figures, that means someone in the UK falls victim to a shopping scam across these two platforms every seven minutes, costing consumers more than £27m a year.
The bank found that clothes, trainers, gaming consoles and mobile phones are among the most common goods being falsely advertised. Across the industry the average amount being lost by the victims of purchase scams is around £570.
Lloyds is calling on technology and telecommunication companies to do more to stop scams at source and play their part in refunding victims of fraud which originates on their platforms.
Liz Ziegler, fraud prevention director, Lloyds Banking Group, says relying on the banking sector alone to detect scams and provide refunds means those platforms where the vast majority of the fraud starts have no incentive to stop it.
“Social media has become the Wild West of online shopping in recent years, with very few checks in place to verify who is selling what<" she says. “It’s high time tech companies stepped up to share responsibility for protecting their own customers. This means stopping scams at source and contributing to refunds when their platforms are used to defraud innocent victims.”