Northumbria Police is reminding people to be cautious when responding to items for sale advertised via social media.
This follows a recent incident when an iPhone 6 was advertised for sale via Facebook Messenger.
The seller arranged to meet the purchaser on a street in Blyth last Saturday evening.
He handed over £150 and was given an iPhone box. The seller then quickly left and when the buyer opened the box, he found it was empty.
PC Steve Preston said: “We would ask shoppers to be extra vigilant at this time of year and not to let the thought of what appears to be a bargain affect your usual care and common sense.
“If something seems too good to be true, it likely is.
“These fraudsters play on the vulnerability of members of the public to con them out of cash and often they can be very convincing in their tactics.
“If anyone does have any concerns, or believes they may have been a victim, we would ask them to get in contact with us.”
Northumbria Police can be contacted on 101 – for the aforementioned offence, quote reference 977 of 25/11/17.
Alternatively, information can be passed on to the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111.
For further advice, visit www.actionfraud.police.uk/christmas