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The ‘Best Fakes Ever’ are Rising: Shopping Concerns over Fake Business Sites

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

When faced with the need for annual growth, an acceptable and traditional business route to greater margins has been to refine the existing products or service offerings. You add value or improve the longevity of products to justify a higher price, or you can add bonuses to an existing service offering to boost sales. These are logical ports of call to ensure enhanced business fitness, as well as greater overall market success.

Unfortunately, it makes sense online criminals might employ the same tools in their quest for illicit gains. And boy, cybercrooks are rising to the challenge. Fake sites and online scams are becoming increasingly professional and integrated. In other words, the initial feel is reassuring, but the backend is so convincing that you don’t even suspect a scam until it’s too late. Fake shopping sites, sophisticated phishing scams, and even dating scams are rising and harder to initially detect. 

Fake event tickets, fake travel, fake courier companies, non-existent leather goods; the list of lost money stories on the internet is a ballooning and varied one. It’s been reported around 10 percent of millennials have been scammed for fake concert tickets online. Spoof companies have become increasingly sophisticated in their offers, meaning that even when the usual one or two testing points are investigated, they still seem legit.

Bad for business, fake business costs

Companies are often extensively targeted for their supposed cash flow. Elaborate schemes are concocted by cyber crooks over months, then rolled out to ensnare the unwary or even greedy. Greed very often lies at the heart of most online scams. In the case of dating scams, hackers prey on the victim’s yearning to be loved. Trading on the most fragile of our needs, criminals know exactly how to pitch scam offers. 

Rather than attempt elaborately false routes to others’ personal information, scammers will often refine existing techniques of tricking people into believing they’re on a genuine site or even their own online banking home page. Sophisticated cybercrime is by no means only an American issue, as Asia and the EU are recording their own spikes in online criminality. Among the 12 best cyber security companies in London, statistics show enhanced sophistication and effort are being invested in conning people online. 

Whereas many “one-shot” sites were scam sites in the past, nowadays the more sophisticated scam sites have realized the value of brazen cheek, combined with a better tech build. Be bold and stand up to be counted – that’s the trend in modern scam sites. Very often, since such more elaborate scams require finessing across several business fronts, language on-site will still be irregular or poor for the industry concerned. Atypical pictures or wording will accompany emails announcing goods to be shipped – pending a small additional payment, of course. 

A one-shot site will try to con people out of money or sensitive data as soon as they arrive. There’s seldom any follow up, and if the crooks don’t manage to convince a user to enter the desired information, the opportunity is typically lost. Modern scam sites, however, present as a comprehensively organized and legitimate business. It presents itself as a professional store, one that takes effort to curate and features a sleek checkout process, lots of contact points (although live chat seldom goes anywhere on these sites). This is often the scam site of today. 

An entire mocked-up courier process is implemented after a user has bought some goods online. If they could “just transfer the $450 for clearance costs at the Toulouse border…” or (in dating scams) “if my darling could just send me the cost of a plane ticket, you won’t have to lose the love of your life…” That’s the sucker punch, but being towed by a modern scam site can be very convincing. Too many people who don’t want to lose out on their “discount” or “soulmate” end up losing even more. 

How to recognize an unfamiliar face

First, modern cyber security assumes you have a VPN and practice safe computing. “Safe computing” means more caution and effort spent to stay secure. A great many scams trade on word of mouth, typically chat app pyramids where entry-level users do get ridiculous sums of money back on small initial investments. Initial users spread the word and it rolls out like wildfire. Very often, stepping back and applying common logic will alert you to a scam.

If everyone in the world could put in $20 and get $200 back a few days later, why would anyone ever bother working? Clearly something is wrong with that scenario. 

Similarly, on dating sites, if a prospective partner presents as stable – yet is intimating a shortage of cash – warning bells should start ringing. Unethical people trade on others’ emotions to generate an idyllic picture of future love and affection. Many users never doubt it, and the image of “a moment’s hassle for a lifetime of bliss” steers them right along to parting with their cash.

Always follow modern guidelines if you’re unfamiliar with a site or email. If a website is less than six months old, apologies to all young, legitimate sites, but it’s extremely risky because of it. You can employ online tools like Webarchive to check a site’s history and ask colleagues how or where they check sites. You can report scammy issues to Snopes via their submission form if they haven’t already rated it. 

A super cheap price on brand goods, a highly lucrative offer of returns with a ridiculously small input, or too much love too soon with no means to fund it – these are all hallmarks of bolder, more played-out online scams. They’re far more polished, take confidently longer to clinch the con, and should all be avoided like the plague. 

Follow one simple rule: when it’s time to pay, don’t do it. Don’t do it unless you are feeling as reassured as you would be standing at the checkout at your local grocer. Poor or missing information or presentation simply means someone doesn’t care enough to polish their online business – a typical indicator of the real impetus is to simply scam you out of money.