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Black Friday: disabled shoppers shut out online; dark web offers bumper drug deals

As Black Friday hits full swing, Scope has said that people with disabilities are being shut out of online shopping due to websites and apps that are poorly optimised for them.

The disabled charity conducted a poll of 200 people where they found half of those surveyed had chosen not to buy an item due to difficult-to-use web pages or apps.

Nearly half (47 per cent) said that website navigation was a common problem, with 45 per cent saying that Captcha puzzles impeded their shopping experience and 34 per cent having trouble during the registration process.

The disabled charity called on retailers to ensure they were not missing out on billions of pounds from would-be customers every year by unwittingly preventing the UK’s 14 million people with disabilities from using their sites.

It found such problems led to 50 per cent of people with disabilities choosing not to buy the item, 48 per cent finding an alternative retailer and 32 per cent having to ask someone in the household to complete the purchase for them.

Kristina Barrick, head of digital influencing at Scope, said: “For disabled people, buying goods and services, socialising, managing health, accessing information and working online has the potential to be truly life-changing, especially when the built environment can be so full of barriers. But Scope keeps hearing about how much the digital world is letting people down.

“Disabled shoppers should be able to take advantage of great Black Friday deals, but many are stopped by badly designed websites and apps.

“Black Friday is just one shopping day, but businesses can reap much bigger rewards all year round by making sure their websites and apps are accessible. Many are missing out on a multi-billion-pound market simply because they haven’t thought about disabled people.”

This Black Friday has also seen criminals on the Dark Web offering deals on elicit purchases including illegal drugs, fake identity documents and stolen data.

Experts say gangs are offering cut prices on the secretive sites, mirroring commercial tactics used by legitimate businesses.

Stolen personal data and credit cards, fake identification documents and illegal drugs are all offered for sale on dark web marketplaces that are designed to be untraceable.

Co-founder of security firm Digital Shadows, James Chappell, said: “Society has become more digital, and along with that, so has crime.

“Despite their activities being unlawful and illegal, criminals are retail enterprises in a sense, and they’re looking to maximise the opportunities.

“People who buy products and services from criminals are also consumers in their own right, they’re familiar with concepts such as Black Friday.

“We’ve seen the same strategies that online retailers and physical retailers use, being used in these criminal markets.

“We see them used either to provide discounts, ‘stack ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap’ type strategies, and we’ve seen the same with discount codes, introductions, building up excitement before the event, adverts that entice and enthuse.”

A report from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, published earlier this week, found that criminals in the UK make more from selling illegal drugs online than anywhere else in Europe.

Its report found that sales worth £24m had been made in 2017/18.

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