Northern Ireland a hotspot for online purchasing scams, report says


Northern Ireland is a hotspot for online purchasing scams, with a tenth of residents being targeted over the past three years, a report said.

The rip off involves victims paying up front for goods that they never receive, frequently on auction websites.

Residents are some of the worst in the UK at protecting themselves online, research for Barclays Bank said.

The country also stood out for suffering one of the highest proportions of victims of invoice and romance scams.

Joanna McArdle, director of corporate banking at Barclays in Northern Ireland, said: "Criminals are using ever more sophisticated tactics to trick people into handing over their bank details, or to pay money to a fraudster when they believe they are simply paying their builder or solicitor.

"Northern Ireland has ranked worryingly low in the UK Digital Safety Index, and while obviously not everyone here is going to fall foul of a romance scam, there is a high level of vulnerability to other online financial scams, hacking and account frauds and it is evident that more needs to be done to improve consumer awareness of both cybercrime and cybersecurity."

She said the "digital safety gap" has come about because, as a society, confidence in using digital technology to shop and make payment transactions has grown much faster than knowledge of how to do so safely and this gap is being exploited by savvy criminals.

Northern Ireland is one of the highest ranking UK regions for incidents of multiple types of scams and frauds.

Invoice scams pose a serious problem, in which a scammer intervenes in a legitimate payment to convince the victim to redirect the payment to the scammer's account, as do romance scams, in which a scammer feigns romantic intentions towards a victim and then uses that goodwill to extort money or gifts.