Mum issues scam warning after purchasing Ugg boots that never arrived

By Staff


Natasha made the purchase through a third-party shopping app, which meant she could only raise a complaint after eight weeks – during this time, she noticed the social media pages had disappeared

A mum has urged shoppers to be aware when making purchases online after she paid for Ugg boots that never arrived.

Natasha, 38, a school worker from Kent, spent £26 on the pair of “too good to be true” shoes which retail now at £120. She said she was reassured after her friend at work said her daughter had purchased the same Ugg boots from the seller. She told The Mirror: “Somebody I work with said her daughter had ordered genuine Ugg boots, reduced price in comparison to what you’d expect. I asked if they were the real thing, and she said they absolutely are. She said her daughter had received them.

“I guessed they were ‘imperfect’ or like a pilot version of the shoe being sold, so I thought ‘brilliant’ – and I’d seen the company on Instagram. I naively didn’t really look at the reviews, which I like to think I’m normally pretty good at. They had all different social media pages, so I thought it was the real thing.”

Natasha made the purchase through a third-party shopping app, which meant she could only raise a complaint about the missing shoes after eight weeks. During this time, she noticed the social media pages for the seller had all disappeared. She said: “I knew it clearly wasn’t what I thought it was. I checked videos online and some people said they’d got [the Ugg boots] and others said they’d received a cheap, knock-off version. I didn’t get anything. I was going off word of mouth.

“I thought they were the ‘outlet’ equivalent where they had a stitching error with the label, or a misprint of the Ugg stamp inside the boot. I felt like an absolute idiot. I felt foolish. Maybe they had a limited number at one point, that they couldn’t fulfil? If its too good to be true, it probably is.”

Natasha, who paid with a credit card, said she was “really lucky” that the app where she made the purchase from issued her a refund. Her story comes as new research from Santander and Gumtree highlights the worrying number of purchase scams.

Purchase scams involve fraudsters setting up fake adverts offering items for sale which are not as described or simply do not exist, often on reputable selling websites. Santander and Gumtree are urging online shoppers to be alert, as April and May see the highest volume of “for sale” listings on Gumtree.

In 2023, Santander customers lost £7.3million to purchase scams originating on online selling sites and marketplaces, as it reports claims have increased by 32% in the last year compared to 2022. The average claim was £500. Of the total number of purchase scams reported to Santander in 2023, 80% started on online selling platforms or marketplaces.

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.”

Joseph Rindsland, Head of Trust & 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.”

How to protect yourself against scams

  • Too good to be true? – An item priced under the recommended selling value should always be a red flag. But it doesn’t need to be a high value purchase, criminals will post everything that’s in demand, from that impossible to find collectible figure to the latest sold-out toy.

  • Shop local – Most selling sites, like Gumtree, can be filtered depending on postcode and location. Shop local, and make sure you see the item in person first. To help protect customers, Santander recently introduced a new fraud warning that won’t allow a customer to make a purchase from Facebook Marketplace, unless they confirm they have seen it in person first.

  • Stay secure – Always use secure payment methods where you can. PayPal (buying goods) and debit and credit cards can offer more protection than a bank transfer. Any attempts to communicate outside of an official site like Gumtree should also be treated with suspicion.

  • Slow down – To check whether a seller is genuine, take the time to look at how long the seller has been a member of the selling site for and check out the seller’s profile, including reviews from other buyers.

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