Getting caught in a world wide criminal web

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So far, ‘touch wood’, I have had no bad experiences shopping online and it is now my preferred method of buying many things.

It’s quick, convenient and I have become more confident about paying by credit card online. Having said that, I take reasonable precautions by only buying from reputable websites and where possible make sure my credit card details are deleted after I have made a purchase.

However, over the Christmas period a friend told me how he had been left several hundred pounds out of pocket after making an online purchase. My friend wanted to buy his wife a particular brand name pair of boots and so he searched the Internet. He found a very professional looking website offering the exact item he wanted at a discounted price. He took the plunge, bought the boots and was provided with a tracking number so he could follow his purchase on its route to the UK. Everything appeared to be going OK, until his purchase arrived in the UK and the tracking stopped dead at the port of entry.

Numerous telephone calls to the seller and the parcel courier failed to shed any light on the reason for the delay. The next thing he received was a letter from Her Majesty’s Customs saying they had seized his purchase because it was counterfeit and they intended to destroy it. Apparently, this is a fairly regular occurrence and there is no right of appeal.

When he contacted the seller to complain, he eventually received an e-mail blaming the UK government for operating restrictive trade practices and was brazenly offered a discount on his next purchase. Having sought advice, he has been told there is little he can do to get his money back.

Obviously this is just one example of a problem which can occur if you shop online but how many people each year are falling foul of problems like these and what are the most popular scams? The answer is nobody appears to know but various articles do report a lot of cases over the Christmas period where goods were bought and they simply never arrived, especially tickets for sports events and pop concerts.

In the next few months the annual crime figures will be released and they will show recorded crime levels in this country are at record low levels. That is true in respect of acquisitive crime but what is being missed from the equation are many thousands of people of people who become victims of crime over the Internet.

Technology is causing the face of crime in this country to change and while it may appear on paper there are fewer victims of crime, the truth may be very different.

If you would like Mick Gradwell to give a talk to your society, a presentation or an educational lecture, contact 01253 600800 for further information.