Online shoppers have been given a helping hand to avoid fraud this Christmas as more than 2,000 fraudulent have been suspended by the Met Police’s Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU).
Working closely with domain name registries and registrars, detectives from the unit identified and instigated action against counterfeit and fraudulent sites, which affect thousands of unassuming consumers and generate millions of pounds for the criminals behind them.
The sites in question generally purport to sell a raft of designer goods, including brands such as Nike, GHD, Tiffany and Ugg.
Innocent online shoppers are duped into handing over their money in exchange for what appear to be ‘bargain’ purchases. Those items then either never materialise or are revealed to be counterfeit goods.
Victims of the sites also run the risk that the criminals behind them could potentially steal their identity, credit card and banking details for criminal activity elsewhere.
PCeU’s advice to protect yourself from bogus websites:
- Know who you are dealing with - check manufacturers' websites to ensure you are buying from an approved and reputable retailer.
- Be careful how you pay - if the purchase is over £100 consider using a credit card to protect your purchase, buy goods online through secure and encrypted payment systems, don't be drawn off the site to other forms of payment and consider separate credit cards or accounts for online shopping.
- Protect your personal details - don't give away personal details unnecessarily, don't ever reveal passwords or PIN numbers.
- Protect your computer - ensure you have up-to-date anti-virus software on your computer, use a firewall and update your computer's software regularly.
- Beware of unsolicited or spam email offers.
- If you have been a victim of an online fraud, report it to Action Fraud.
Read more about PCeU’s fraudulent website removals on the Met Police’s website.
Please note that Action Fraud is not responsible for the content of external websites.
To report a fraud, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online reporting tool.