Santander warns against growing scam as customers lose £7.3million shopping online

Women panicked at laptop

Scammers target those shopping on online market places

Temi Laleye

By Temi Laleye

Published: 09/04/2024

- 16:03

Scammers are targeting Britons with over £500 in their accounts

Santander customers lost £7.3million to online marketplace purchase scams last year.

Criminals are posing as sellers on popular online marketplaces to trick people into losing their hard-earned cash, Santander has warned.

The fraudsters are encouraging buyers to send money using an unsecure method of payments, such as a bank transfer.

Santander and Gumtree are working together to warn customers on what to look out for, as April and May typically see the highest volume of “for sale” listings on the selling platform.

In 2023, Santander customers lost £7.3million to purchase scams originating on online selling sites and marketplaces.

These scam report claims have increased by 32 per cent in the last year compared to 2022.

Santander shop

Santander warns against growing scam


Scammers are targeting those with over £500 in their accounts, as this was the average claim asked for.

Of the total number of purchase scams reported to Santander in 2023, 80 per cent started on online selling platforms or marketplaces.

Over the past year, Gumtree has tried to regulate their marketplace to ensure it is a safe place for all shoppers.

Last year, they removed a total of 1,177,292 listings from across their platform.

These posts did not meet their posting standards and policies. Of those, 42,725 ads were removed due to suspicions of fraud.

According to Gumtree, the most popular items for criminals to create fake posts about include:

  • Smart phones
  • Games console
  • Digital cameras
  • Headphones
  • Dogs
  • Collectables
  • Guitars

Chris Ainsley, head of fraud risk management at Santander said: “More than ever, scammers are homing in on our love of grabbing a bargain, whether it’s that ‘impossible’ to come by collectible or a new phone.

“It’s great to see online marketplaces like Gumtree taking strides towards not only removing scam posts from their site but also putting measures in place to stop them appearing in the first place.

“Customers should always be wary of an item for sale that seems too good to be true, but the more that can be done to stop criminals from creating these posts in the first place, the better.”

Purchase scams are methods used by fraudsters to steal customers’ money by appearing as legitimate adverts on marketplaces and digital platforms.

Scammers will often advertise an item that doesn’t exist and make use of unprotected payment methods.

Action Fraud has offered advice for customers on how to protect themselves from this type of fraud.

On their website it states: “If you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first, and ask a friend or family member for advice before completing the purchase.

“If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases.

“Some other payment methods do provide good consumer protection, but they aren't obliged to provide the same protection as a credit card provider.


“Check their Terms and Conditions for exact details.”

Britons are also warned about clicking link in emails or texts they receive about amazing offers.

These may contain links to fake websites, designed to steal someone’s money and personal details.

Action Fraud said: “Not all links are bad, but if you are unsure don't use the link, go separately to the website.”

Joseph Rindsland, head of trust and safety at Gumtree said: “We’ve invested heavily in recent years in technology to prevent scam posts making it to our site and thanks to this, the volume of suspicious listings we’re having to remove is falling month on month.

“But scammers are tenacious, and we still removed tens of thousands of posts in 2023. That’s tens of thousands of opportunities for criminals to take customer’s hard-earned cash, which is why we’re teaming up with Santander to advise our users how they can better protect themselves.”

You may like