Earlier this year someone close and dear to me got in touch about a website they were tempted to purchase from:
I immediately did a whois lookup and gave them a copy of the address on the record, which of course, was an address in China.
There was a high probability that any purchases from that website would result in receiving fake goods or no goods at all, especially since in 2009 the BBC covered how companies in China are selling fake goods into the UK.
You’d hope this would be enough to discourage someone from purchasing from a website without thinking twice…
Fast-forward a few months and we’re here again, only this time the purchase has gone through.
Granted, from a different website this time:
But at least it is a uk domain which makes things a little easier to deal with.
Identify it’s a dodgy website
The first thing to do (again) is to do a whois lookup (this time we can go directly to the UK domain registry, Nominet).
Without even visiting the website we can tell it’s obviously a fake as it’s again got an address based in China.
To concrete my suspicions I decided to check it against another couple of sites…
- WebOfTrust – “Counterfeit goods scam from China selling copyright infringing items. Either you get some low quality junk, or they just steal your money. “
- McAfee SiteAdvisor – We’ve tested millions of websites, but we haven’t tested this one yet.
- Norton SafeWeb – This site has not been tested yet.
The general consensus appears to be that it’s either bad or not popular enough to have been tested yet. It doesn’t seem good.
Visiting the website for the first time I’m immediately struck by some oddities:
- “[email protected]” – their email address appears halfway down is hosted by gmail, rather than via their own domain. Why?
- “www.franklinandmarshallsale.co.uk LTD” – at the bottom, they have put their domain name followed by “LTD”, suggesting they are a “limited company”, which they are not.
- “fake medals and badges” – at the bottom they have a number of badges and medals which are clearly fake. One of them says “click to verify” but then has no link.
Without visiting any other pages, we can tell instantly that something’s not right. Combined with the above information I think it’s pretty safe to say that this site is “dodgy”.
How to avoid dodgy websites
If you have purchased anything from a site like this, my advice is that you report it to your bank or credit card company and cancel the order with the website asap.
Reporting dodgy websites
Aside from the obvious strategy of reporting to your bank or credit card company, there are some other places you can or should report dodgy websites to.
- If it is a UK domain name (eg: example.co.uk) and the address on the whois record is hidden, incorrect or incomplete you can contact them to make them aware of this.
Unfortunately Nominet don’t offer any advice on “counterfeit goods” but do take scams very seriously.
- Report the host
- The best way to do this is to find where it’s hosted by getting the IP address of the domain name.
- Do a whois lookup on the IP address and find the “abuse contact”. Drop them an email.
Unfortunately, there’s no easy set method to achieve this, but anyone with technical knowledge should be able to get this information for you.
- Report them to Consumer Direct
- Ask your local Trading Standards office for advice
- Contact ActionFraud
- Only contact ActionFraud if you’ve received goods that were actually passed off as originals.
That’s usually enough to get an investigation started and the website taken down to help prevent others from getting scammed. You should probably not bother the police with cases like this unless you’re instructed to by one of the above.