LET the buyer beware is the advice from police, who are asking the community to be on guard against fraudsters operating online.
Statistics released by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research last month revealed reports of fraud had increased in the 12 months between September 2019 and September 2020.
According to the stats, there were 240 reports of fraud in the 12 months leading up to September 2019, compared to 272 for the same period leading up to September 2020.
Crime manager with Chifley Police District, Chief Inspector Luke Rankin, said one trend he has seen in recent times is a move by offenders typically involved with property crime such as break and enters or shoplifting into committing fraud.
"They obtain money by blatantly ripping people off online, in places like Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree," he said.
"And we need the community to be on guard."
He said people should use extreme caution if they are asked to send money before they receive their goods, warning that fraudsters were pretending to sell anything including puppies, tech, toys, and agricultural or camping equipment in order to commit fraud.
"Exercise great caution when you are contemplating purchasing something online from an individual," he said.
"Be really careful, and even more so when they are asking for the money before you get your goods. That should be ringing alarm bells," he added.
In the digital age, he said it's not hard for people to do their own research, looking at social media profiles or Facebook.
"You really do need to do some detective work before you send someone you have not met money over the internet. If a seller is hard to profile or make contact with ... that should heighten your suspicions," he said.
Another recent crime trend he is coming across are issues with a small percentage of juveniles.
"Unfortunately, an emerging trend has been with youth crime. Incidents of vandalism, assaults and anti-social behaviour have been creeping up in the CBD and Kelso areas."
He said that police were very much aware of these issues and have been responding to them.
Chief Inspector Rankin regularly reviews major crime categories and said he is content with how Chifley is placed. Of the crime categories, DV, assaults, indecent assault and robbery were either stable or falling, while theft from motor vehicles and retail stores fell.