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Santander scam warning as fraudsters manipulate Wilko closures with fake clearance sales

Nick Cheek
Written By:
Nick Cheek

Fraud victims have lost a staggering £300,000 since the start of August, when Wilko announced it would enter administration before its eventual closure in September.

Around 5,000 disputes in total were recorded by Santander concerning stores set for closure pretending to discount goods.

On average, customers are losing £37 each by searching for bargains and purchasing items that are non-existent, often using a link found on social media that leads to a fake website.

Techniques used by the con artists include putting pressure on the customer by adding a five-minute time limit to make a purchase while the item is in the online basket.

In many circumstances occasions, the payment would then be processed by the fraudsters, with a ‘VIP’ or ‘Premium’ option for a delivery service claiming to be quicker.

A £7.5bn scam bill

Scams cost the nation £7.5bn in 2023 and Chris Ainsley, head of fraud risk management at Santander said: “Fraudsters see the news of large retailers closing shops as an opportunity to try and turbocharge their own closing down or clearance sale scams.

“We often see a worrying spike of this type of scam, when an announcement like this is made public. If you see an advert for discounts which sound too good to be true, it probably is a scam. Even if the advert uses recognisable logos and brand names, people should be alert and ensure they are visiting genuine websites.”

Stay safe from sales scams

The lender provided four tips on what to look out for in closing down or clearance sale scams:

  1. If a price looks too good to be true, it probably is
  2. Always check the website you are purchasing from – check it’s the legitimate web address, rather than a copy of a well-known brand’s address
  3. When buying online, check the payment pages are secure by looking for the padlock symbol in the address bar. The website should start with ‘https’
  4. It never hurts to stop and pause before sending your money. A quick chat with a friend or relative can sometimes be a great way to sense check what you’re doing