THE Burton branch of an initiative which allows people to support their community by offering items for free is urging people to be aware of scammers.
Freecycle allows people to offer up any items they are looking to throw away to other people in the area via a special website.
The Burton branch has more than 50 items on offer but has had to issue advice and warnings to members after a big increase in people being hit by scams.
A spokesman for the group said: “Freecycle has recently seen a big increase in scammers who are abusing the good and kind nature of our fantastic members.
“The most common scam involves someone offering high-end or desirable items but telling you that they have moved house or are working away but that they can post or courier the item to you for a fee.
“Never pay for anything from Freecycle, unless you are giving someone a contribution for fuel etc, but even then only pay it when they arrive with the item, never in advance.
“Stay safe and report anything that you don’t feel is right.”
Freecycle was established in 2003 in Arizona in the US and has since spread to more than 85 countries.
In the UK, there are now getting on for 600 groups with almost three million members.
A nearby group which covers South Derbyshire has more than 1,000 items up for grabs.
Membership is free and further information is available by heading online to uk.freecycle.org
A spokesman for Freecycle said: “You only have to watch the Antiques Roadshow to know that we throw away too much that other people might find useful or even valuable.
“Freecycle is a grassroots movement, entirely not for profit, involving people who are giving and getting stuff for free in their area.
“By using what we already have, we reduce consumerism, manufacture fewer goods and keep good stuff out of landfill.
“We get rid of junk that we no longer need and strengthen community ties.”