Sadly, this kind of thing doesn't reflect too well on human nature, so please beware the fraudsters.

One of the current scams stems from people's desire to save cash on domestic energy bills. Wherever practical, many people are swapping to modern air fryers in lieu of traditional ovens. Although air fryers aren't suitable for all cookery applications, they do perform remarkably well in many instances and, when correctly used, can produce excellent results.

One advantage air fryers have over traditional ovens is that they begin the cooking process the instant they're turned on, rather than expending a lot of energy bringing themselves up to pre-set cooking temperatures. The other advantage is less cooking oils and fats are needed when using air fryers. This makes for much healthier meals.

So, it's a bit of a win-win situation? Well, you'd be forgiven for thinking so. Problem is, millions of people have been jumping onto the air fryer bandwagon lately. All things considered, who can blame them? After all it's better for the environment, better for our pockets and to top it all; air fryer cookery is even better for our health. What's not to like? The result of such overall positivity in these extraordinary times is that the good news has got around, thus creating very high demand for these new-fangled kitchen gizmos which has made them somewhat scarce.

Smelling an opportunity

It's an all too familiar tale it seems. But lack of availability is only one side to this sorry tale because scammers have smelled an opportunity to make a killing. The worst part of it is that these people won't just take your cash and provide you with substandard or fake goods (which is bad enough) but they'll make you feel doubly gullible by taking your money and almost literally provide nothing in return. It amounts to theft.

The first thing they offer, above all-else, is availability. When all the usual trusted outlets are 'currently out of stock' scammer sites continue to offer the items you want and, better still, at vastly discounted prices. To boot, the websites look highly professional and convincing, using recognised brand logos such as `NINJA` along with a set of plausible-looking images for you to peruse for further details and specifications. Their websites even feature the Padlock cyber security logo, so for many would-be buyers, there's little reason not to go ahead and grab that bargain!

Now, here's the weird part. Once buyers have made a choice, filled in all their usual details and submitted a payment, the scammer websites will flick over some plausible looking electronically generated emails thanking you for your custom. They will even email an invoice, an order number, customer care contact details and assurances of the vendor's best attention should there be any issues with your order. And here's another anomaly, the item will be described as a 'package' rather than have any specific details about what it is you've actually ordered, such as individual model numbers and so forth. You'll also notice that the email addresses for each communication will be different. Sure enough, a 'package' will be dispatched but it won't be quite what you've been expecting.

Curious?

Now for the 'once upon a time' moment. A time when a mystery package duly arrives through your letterbox and all seems well with the world. Sure, the package will be addressed to you, it'll be professionally labelled complete with details of its source. All will be tickety-boo until the moment you ask yourself, what's this? You'll be wondering when you ordered such a tiny package. Curiouser and curioser?

I've heard numerous strange tales about a whole range of oddities arriving through people's letterboxes. Of course, the items aren't anything like what was originally ordered. One family received a beautifully wrapped spoon instead of a cordless vacuum cleaner. Another person received a fake GUCCI purse instead of a slow cooker. How about a fake Cartier diamond ring (worth about 50p) instead of an air fryer?

When an order number is tallied up with the one which was provided when an air fryer (or a similar) product was ordered, thousands of people realise that they've fallen prey to scammers. Question is, what to do about it?

Well, first of all, people should let their bank (or card issuer) know as soon as any suspicions are raised. The earlier this is done, the better. Banks will refer individual cases to their fraud teams.

Next thing is to email the scammers directly (using any email addresses provided). In the email, a 'returns' label should be requested so that the unwanted item can be duly returned at the seller's expense. Sending a recorded delivery package to China might prove costly. In the email, a full refund should be requested. Reject any offers made for you to keep the unwanted item, even at a discount. Remember, the items the scammers send out are virtually worthless.

Of course, the best thing is to tread carefully and ensure you only visit legitimate websites.

Remember the old adage, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is! Trouble is, scam websites sites are looking increasingly plausible these days.