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Faced with high inflation and soaring energy prices, UK consumers are turning to their darker sides and scamming online retailers in order to get free products, according to a report published by commerce protection provider Signifyd.

UK consumers surveyed for The State of Commerce in Europe 2023 showed little compunction about admitting to cheating on returns and claims of poor service while they shopped online. Some 32% admitted to falsely claiming an ecommerce order was not satisfactory when delivered in an attempt to get a refund and keep the product.

Additionally, 26% said they had claimed that an ecommerce order did not arrive in order to keep the item for free. While, 4% said they sent back an empty box or a box containing something other than the original product in order to keep an online purchase and receive a refund.

Signifyd said the responses serve as a warning to UK merchants as they head into the festive season – the stretch that defines the year for most retailers – that rising prices may be shifting Britons’ moral compasses out of kilter.

The survey also found that 55% of UK consumers are spending less in inflationary times. Now, the question becomes whether they will turn to false claims of fraud and return abuse in order to cut back while keeping up.

“The State of Commerce report makes clear that after several challenging years, neither the economy nor the rising levels of fraud and abuse are getting any easier for retailers,” Ed Whitehead, Signifyd managing director, EMEA, said in announcing the report’s release. “We’re pleased to have built a report that not only points to the hurdles ahead but also provides actionable strategies to clear those hurdles.”

The State of Commerce in Europe 2023 is a compilation of ecommerce sales data, predictive analysis and shopper surveys conducted for Signifyd by research firm OnePoll.

Beyond providing a snapshot of commerce in Europe and the UK, the State of Commerce report aims to address the challenges that retailers face in serving consumers who are both cash-strapped and demanding.