New scam warning: unscrupulous fake banking app defrauding consumers

Not-for-profit internet safety expert, Get Safe Online, has received reports of a new scam which is being used by criminals to steal from people selling goods on social media marketplaces, when they collect goods in person.

A fake banking app on the ‘buyer’s’ phone falsely indicates that the money has been transferred to the seller’s bank account.

The seller enters their bank details into the fake app, resulting in a notification on the app that the money has been successfully transferred. However, when the seller checks their account, they find that the money has not been received. Typically, the criminal pretends to call their bank and claims they have been told that it takes up to two hours for the funds to appear in the seller’s account. When the money has still not been received in the seller’s account after this time, the fraudster has disappeared with the goods and, potentially, the victim’s bank account details.

Tony Neate, CEO at Get Safe Online warns, “Not even two weeks into 2023 and we are already witnessing new scams online. The internet is an amazing place, enabling millions of us to benefit from it every day, but, as with anything, it is always important to be aware of pitfalls and understand how to avoid them. With this latest banking app scam, when selling anything online, make sure you have received the funds before handing over your goods – don’t rely on the buyer to tell you otherwise, however genuine they may seem.”

Get Safe Online suggests that sellers using social media marketplaces follow this advice:

  • Always check buyers’ reviews and seller feedback. Accounts that have been set up very recently with a large volume of similar positive feedback could indicate fake reviews.
  • Always use the marketplace’s recommended method of payment (such as PayPal) and read the terms and conditions to check what you are protected against. Paying in any other way than via a recommended payment site – such as an app on the buyer’s phone or via bank transfer – could result in losses which you or your bank cannot recover. If you do pay via bank transfer, always check with your own bank if any payment is shown as pending.
  • Don’t allow the buyer to change the original agreed meeting place.
  • Don’t be rushed into handing over goods before you are sure that payment has been received.
  • Consider making cash payments at yours or the buyer’s bank premises for added protection.
  • If you have been defrauded, report it to Action Fraud at or on 0300 1232 2040.

For more information and advice on how to stay safe online, visit