Beware of Christmas con artists

Con artists are using the lure of bargain Christmas presents to scam people in the north west, police have warned.

Police say the scam warning is part of their Operation Season’s Greetings initiative aimed at protecting the public over Christmas.

A PSNI spokeswoman says the con artists scam an unsuspecting person using a genuine item, such as a TV, camera, or a laptop computer.

“The price always seems attractive. However, once the money has changed hands, the victim will be given the item in a box.

“At home, the victims find that the item they were shown has been replaced – we have had reports of what people thought were laptops turning out to be telephone books, catalogues or televisions without any working parts,” the spokeswoman says.

The most recent reported incident happened outside ASDA shopping centre in Strabane and was believed to have involved three foreign nationals.

The spokeswoman says people in Derry have also been targeted.

“If you are already thinking about presents for the holiday season don’t be tempted by these unrealistic prices - there are no bargains to be had in transactions of this kind. If you are in the market for a TV, laptop or camera, go to an established retailer,” she says.

“At the very least, if something goes wrong, you will know who to approach for replacement or a return of your money.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 0845 600 8000.