An Garda Síochána has underlined the importance of safe online shopping on the run-up to the Christmas season, citing real-life examples of online shopping fraud which had been done to a diverse array of customers.

In the period from January 1, 2020, until October 31, 2020, 489 online shopping frauds have been reported to An Garda Síochána.

The average loss was €2,306 per incident representing an overall loss to Irish citizens of €1,127,972, the authority says.

In an example of shopping fraud which occurred previously, Gardaí noted that a 69-year-old male from Co. Laois purchased a JCB online for €15,000. The JCB was not delivered as requested.

A website had been set up to advertise machinery from a fake company.

In a second example given, a 24-year-old female from Kerry purchased two tickets via Facebook. Money was transferred online through AIB online, directly to the account of the seller.

Gardaí noted that the two concert tickets had not been received and the seller couldn’t be contacted. It transpired that a fake identity had been used to open the bank account.

Gardaí spoke about another example of online shopping fraud where a JCB-type machine, which was a photograph of a machine in the UK, which was being “sold” to an Irish citizen for less than €10,000 – when in reality the photographed machine had already been sold in the UK for in excess of £20,000.

Finally, a 52-year-old female from Leitrim was buying a present for a child and found a Playstation Pro 4 on an online trading forum.

“She engaged with the seller through the messaging app on the forum and transferred €240 to a bank account.” Gardaí noted that the Playstation never arrived; the seller went offline and would not reply to messages.

“As we enter this busy season, consumers and businesses will be particularly active online and An Garda Síochána and Europol advise consumers to follow the golden rules for online shopping,” the authority added.