People are being urged to beware of fake products and websites in the run-up to Christmas.
Mobile phones, clothes, shoes and jewellery are the gifts most likely to be fraudulent, according to the Action Fraud group.
Along with City of London police, it is appealing to people to give more thought to where they source presents.
In 2016, it is estimated that nearly £16 million was lost to Christmas shopping fraud.
Common items reported to the agency include fake Yeezy trainers, Kylie Jenner make-up, air dryers, drones and Fitbit watches.
Latest figures suggest that Christmas fraud increased by 25% between 2015 and 2016. Analysis of last year’s crimes also suggests that 65% of crimes at Christmas were linked to online auctions.
The #ThoughtThatCounts campaign is encouraging gift-buyers to pause during the festive rush to consider the source of their goods.
It is releasing a series of videos aimed at illustrating that one small mistake can mean that a thoughtful gift never turns up.
Simple tips to avoid fraud
- If something seems cheaper than expected. it could be poor quality, fake or just non-existent
- Use methods like PayPal when buying on auction site
- Never transfer money to a stranger
- If you’re buying tickets, always buy from official sources and never pay by direct transfer
- Research online holiday deals to ensure that you are buying a genuine offer and check that it is registered with ABTA and ATOL
Commander Dave Clark, national co-ordinator for economic crime said: “Fraudsters see the Christmas rush as an ideal opportunity to take advantage of people’s generosity without a single care about the consequences this may cause for the victim.
“With a sharp rise in fraud reporting at Christmas time it is more important than ever that people do everything they can to protect themselves from fraudsters, stopping them from enjoying the holiday season at the expense of others.”