Consumers are being warned to be wary of online deals that look too good to be true in the wake of a flight scam in which some bargain-hunters thought they had bagged a deal on cheap flights but, in fact, were duped into spending thousands of euro on other goods.
These other goods included €1,200 worth of precious metals.
FraudSMART, the fraud awareness initiative of Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI), has warned people to be cautious in their efforts to bag a last-minute Christmas bargain.
They said sophisticated ads are popping up offering cheap gifts which are, in fact, fraudulent websites.
BPFI, a lobby group for the banking and payments industry, referred specifically to a recent scam in which online ads appear to offer cheap flights. The ad is, actually, a link to a fraudulent website that tricks customers into unknowingly purchasing other goods, including €1,200 worth of precious metals, traded by fraudsters.
Head of fraud prevention at BPFI Olivia Buckley advised customers to independently visit the website of an online sales company.
“Consumers should also be cautious about availing of special offers — if it sounds too good to be true it probably is,” Ms Buckley said.
“One of the real dangers with fraudulent online adverts is that they appear to be extremely authentic and consumers can easily be lured into clicking on the advert and making purchases quickly, before checking out the detail. That is why it is so vital to independently visit the company website to check its authenticity.
It is also vital that when consumers receive a notification from their bank, by way of an SMS or In App message, with a passcode required to complete a transaction that they fully read and understand the message before proceeding.
Ms Buckley also advised consumers to use secure websites when purchasing online and not to use public WiFi when making online payments but, instead, to switch to 3G or 4G.
She said: “The website address should be ‘https’ before the purchase is made, indicating a secure connection. Consumers should also use sites where a padlock symbol is shown beside the website address.”