Online sellers face fraudulent buyer risk

More than two in in five (41%) people who have sold an item online believe they have been subject to a potentially fraudulent experience, according to newly published Fraud Tracker data from high value payments firm, Shieldpay.

The research shows that 45% of Brits have sold an item online at some point in their lives. However, it doesn’t come without risk.

Looking at the tactics adopted in these potentially fraudulent transactions, a fifth (20%) of sellers experienced buyers stating they never received the item in the post, and had to refund the value, 14% had buyers say the item was damaged in the post and 12% said the product wasn’t what they expected.

A smaller, but still concerning, number of sellers were contacted by the buyer requesting financial details (5%) and 4% had buyers threatening to post a bad review online if they didn’t pay them money or send more items.

The financial impact of this potential seller fraud cannot be underestimated. People who sold items online believe they have lost an average of £3,245 to potentially fraudulent experiences online, with nearly a fifth (18%) finding themselves over £5,000 out of pocket.

Willem Wellinghoff, Chief Legal and Compliance Officer, Shieldpay, said: “In a matter of moments, we can set ourselves up as online sellers with a customer base of millions. To add to that, online spending is booming. UK shoppers spent £2.5 billion* online, on average, every single week in June. That’s a tempting market to tap into, particularly for those who may have seen a drop in income due to Covid-19.

“Selling unwanted items, or the products of a side hustle, is a great way to make some extra money. However, it doesn’t come without risk. Sellers can be subject to fraudulent activity from buyers looking to pull a fast one or save a few pennies. Claims that items are damaged, lost in the post, or are faulty happen all the time and the truth can be hard to track down. But genuine sellers shouldn’t be left out of pocket because of this.

“While sellers need to take some responsibility, greater protection must be put in place to safeguard online sellers and technology is key. The identity of both buyers and sellers should be fully verified, past transaction history should be reviewed, with red flags raised on any suspicious behaviour patterns, and the money must be held securely until everyone is happy. Only this will enable people to deal with someone they don’t know with complete confidence.”