Christmas may be a time for giving, but there’s one type of person you wouldn’t want to reward with a free gift this festive season — a scammer.

Unfortunately that has been the outcome for about 200 Western Australians so far in 2021, who reported to WA ScamNet that they had been tricked out of almost $700,000 while shopping online.

The fake websites and social media pages have pretended to sell everything from barbecues to motorhomes, but consumers never received the items, nor saw their money again.

It is very easy to be fooled, with fake websites often looking very professional and sometimes stealing the identity of a well-known retailer or brand.

Furthermore, the items for sale may be offered at very low prices in a bid to trigger a shopper’s excitement to bag a bargain.

While the WA ScamNet team has managed to shut down about 200 fake websites and almost 100 social media pages this year, the scam sites often quickly re-appear under different names.

This means it will never be possible to close down every fake site and page, so online shoppers need to be confident the site is genuine before entering their personal and financial information during a purchase.

The best warning sign that a retail website is a scam is the method of payment. Be very suspicious if scammers ask you to pay via electronic funds transfer or using a money order, pre-loaded money card or a crypto currency such as Bitcoin, as it is rare to recover money that is sent this way.

Another important…

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