WEST Cork’s Crime Prevention officer is warning online shoppers to be on high alert for Black Friday scams over the next few days.
Sgt James O’Donovan said they have been seeing an increase in victims of online crime in the last two years. However, he explained that many are still going unreported due to victims feeling embarrassed about what has happened to them.
“With the way technology is going this is a relatively new phenomenon here in Cork,” he said.
“Black Friday is now being used as a means of targeting vulnerable people. Victims often don’t want to report it because they feel embarrassed.
“However, the more attempts at fraud that are tried and going unreported, the less we can avoid them by putting crime prevention strategies in place.”
He also advised people to steer clear of stolen goods online.
“If something looks too good to be true it usually is,” he said.
“In this situation, it could lead to the possibility that the item has been stolen.
“Our advice would be to check that the item is in its original packaging. We also need to ensure that the site we’re on is reputable.
“Nobody should be giving out card or bank details unless they know 100pc that the site is secure.”
He spoke of how those shoppers in the city are equally at risk.
“In recent weeks there have been 37 cars broken into overnight across West Cork, Cork North and Cork city divisions. The majority of these cars were left unlocked so it’s important that we take that extra step to make sure everything is locked away.
“At a time when presents are being left in full view, people can be very easily targetted.”
He explained that even having a minor item stolen can leave people extremely shook.
“This is an invasion of your privacy so even if it’s only a small item that’s been taken it can often feel like a part of your physical being has been taken from you too.”
The crime prevention officer stressed that many criminals are opportunists.
“People just switch off from the point of view of securing their own goods,” he said.
“Even if you leave your bag down for a minute or have your wallet in your back pocket there are criminals watching for these opportunities.”
Sgt O’Donovan also urged Christmas shoppers not to leave gifts in their cars overnight. “Many of us are so busy trying to get all our presents bought in one day,” he said.
“People work hard all year to put aside this money for presents so when they wake up and see all the property is gone it can be devastating.”