According to UK Finance, in 2022 there were 117,000 reported cases of people being defrauded while buying online, totalling losses of £67 million.

That’s why Get Safe Online has joined forces with the Office of the Police, Fire, and Crime Commissioner in Cumbria to provide tips and advice for residents ahead of the ultra-busy Christmas shopping season.

The losses were suffered by people buying online who were tricked into paying money directly into a criminal’s bank account, including frauds promoted through social media and auction websites.

But the actual figure is considerably higher, as the majority of purchase frauds go unreported by their victims.

Whether you’re looking for a pair of trainers or an e-scooter, perfume or a car, a games console or a subscription – or that hard to-find special gift – you can take some simple steps to avoid becoming a victim.

Cumbria’s deputy police, fire and crime commissioner, Mike Johnson, said: “Many of us will go online to buy gifts for Christmas, especially on Black Friday and Cyber Monday to try and get the best deals we can – especially in a cost-of-living crisis. However, this can leave us vulnerable to scams.

“Cyber-criminals are experts at concealing their true intention and building social media channels and websites that seem genuine, so we all need to be really careful around who we trust online as prevention is the best way to combat fraud.

“By following Get Safe Online’s tips and advice, you can stay safer when browsing online and, if the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

“I would urge everyone to read the information on Get Safe Online’s website.

“If you have been the victim of a scam, please report it to Action Fraud on 0300 2040 123.”

Tony Neate, CEO at Get Safe Online added: “Falling for a purchase scam is easier than you think. Many people still believe that fraud is easy to spot, and isn’t something that can happen to them, however amateur adverts and websites are becoming a thing of the past.

"It’s upsetting at the best of times, but the impact is felt more profusely when money is tight. So take care when shopping online this Christmas and remember if something feels ‘too good to be true’, it probably is”