HomeTechnologyToo good, too cheap... Beware of bargains on the networks

Too good, too cheap… Beware of bargains on the networks

National Police had to block many fake websites imitating official stores

The National Police blocked web pages copying the portals of famous clothing brands.LEON NATIONAL POLICE

A few Nike trainers for 20 euros, a Hermès bag for 100 euros… This Christmas season, social networks are flooded with ads for truly low-priced products, and for many people it is too tempting not to click. After accessing these ads, the user encountered a website that looked exactly like the advertised brand, and it became almost impossible not to benefit from a claim that never reached its buyers. Police made a statement Be warned against this scam and continue to block these fraudulent websites.

The dynamics of this scam have always followed the same pattern: Fraudsters cloned the web pages of the brands they used as bait, but hosted them in third countries (mainly on servers in the United States, according to authorities). With these stores already cloned, the next step was to camouflage the domains with regional extensions rather than legitimate extensions.adidas.com”, they used a native extension, so it was difficult to detect fraud at first glance. The fraudsters then used payment gateways in Brazil and hid the amount without shipping the product once the sale was cleared.

After numerous complaints from users who were defrauded using this technique, it was the police themselves who initiated an investigation. The police press office confirmed that EL PAÍS received more than 200 complaints, most of which used the address fraudinternet@policia.es for this purpose. In addition to using the regional internet domain names mentioned above, scammers have also changed the original branding in some cases. The police informed this media that, for example, they added the letter “es” to the SCAPERS brand, or in the case of Massimo Dutti, this change was more vulgar: “Massimo Clothing.”

top of the iceberg

Despite the large number of complaints, authorities suspect that many more people may be affected due to the low unit amount of the fraud and their “failure to report the facts to police authorities”. In any case, researchers cooperated with domain registrars to block the reported websites. Complicating matters, this scam campaign started during Black Friday and continued through Christmas; because advertisers are intensifying their campaigns during this period and it is very easy for a fraudulent ad to go unnoticed in an Instagram post.

How can it be so easy to commit fraud on this scale? Fernando Suárez, President of the General Council of Colleges of Computer Engineering, explains to EL PAÍS: “Cloning a website is very simple, scammers download the page and copy it with another domain name or add a letter to the brand.” Referring to the ads on these pages where the content is copied on social networks, he explains that it is a simple scam “because social networks offer very sweet offers.”

How to avoid cheating

This scam is an updated version of the popular “stamp scam”: Scammers promise an item at a price well below market price and run with the money. Let’s replace the “little stamps” on “Massimo Clothing”‘s clothes and the scam is complete. In this sense, the first alarm signal should be the presence of a very attractive bargain: “You should be wary of an overly cheap offer,” explains Suárez.

This expert recommends an additional measure in any case: Search for the affected brand on Google and access the offered product through the search engine. What will you get with this? Scammers are playing in the short term and search engines do not have time to retrieve these pages, so there is a greater guarantee that the content offered by search engines is real.

Authorities recommend that you carefully look at the URL of the product offered and be careful about domain names or extensions that do not belong to the brand. Suárez also recommends checking that the offering website has a “padlock” that verifies that the website is https (at the beginning of the URL) and therefore encrypted. Police also point to typos or inconsistencies in the content as a factor of suspicion; because scammers often prioritize committing fraud and do not pay attention to details: low-quality images, bad translations, etc.

One final piece of advice for online purchases, as Suárez suggests, is to use a credit or debit card specifically for this purpose with a limited balance that can be “easily blocked” and reloaded by the user himself. In short, as a general rule, follow the maxim “no one gives money for free”.

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Source: El Pais

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