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Consumers targeted by phoney fashion sites

15 September 2010 - 13:15 by Graham Miller

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A study has found that big name fashion houses such as Gucci and Chanel are having their brands harnessed by cybercriminals who create fake sites and attempt to steal private information from unassuming consumers.

Security firm MarkMonitor announced that it had discovered many of these fake sites. They were receiving significant levels of inbound traffic because consumers seeking the real sites linked to these brands were mislead.

These figures form part of the Brandjacking Index which watches over the internet to detect which mainstream brands are being most commonly exploited by criminals. This time the attention has been focused on Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci and even Burberry.

All five of these luxury outlets have seen the hijacking and exploitation of their branding rise by almost a quarter year on year and close to 7000 fake phishing sites have been setup to pose as legitimate online representations. These sites will either sell knock-off goods or attempt to infect the visitor's computer with malware.

There are a number of different ways for criminals to get fake sites high in the search rankings and lure in innocent consumers and it can be very difficult to tell the difference because of the sophisticated methods employed by malicious parties, making safe shopping online hard to find.

Although consumers are at risk, these sites are also having an impact on the business sector, because almost 4000 suppliers of fake goods have been exploiting wholesale markets to ship on their spurious wares. This means that consumers might also end up buying fake good through a legitimate supplier who has been duped further down the line.

Mark Monitor's Charlie Abrahams, said that it was relatively easy to detect the network of phoney sites that had formed online and he explained how big brands needed to take care to ensure that they can spot the exploitation and put pressure on these sites, so consumers can enjoy safe shopping online.