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Fake gifts to plague online shoppers this Christmas

28 October 2010 - 16:11 by Simon Crisp

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Experts are warning that an influx of phoney goods could cause problems for people trying to carry out safe shopping online in the run-up to Christmas 2010.

People who are out looking for a bargain on big name brands could find that they are duped by websites and sellers offering counterfeit goods and a great deal of attention has been focused on this issue after two sites based in the US went under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission.

The sites in question, bestpricebrands.co.uk and bitesizedeals.co.uk were found to have been fooling British customers thanks to their UK domain names, while actually linking them up to make purchases from overseas vendors.

The problem with buying from abroad without being aware that you are doing so is that you will be hit with extra charges for import and warranties on the goods which you buy are likely to be invalid. This is just what happened to several UK consumers who used the allegedly deceitful websites to shop online.

A spokesperson for Trading Standard told the Daily Mail that the internet is the perfect place for fraudulent groups to operate and con innocent retailers who are putting low prices above proper caution when looking for pre-Christmas bargains.

Cybercriminals are developing websites that originate in both the US and China but claim to sell big brands at improbably low prices using interfaces which look startlingly genuine.

The prevalence of clandestine malicious sites masquerading as the genuine article is set to continue as the festive season approaches and consumers are more willing to part with their cash if they smell a deal, lessening the likelihood that they are able to participate in true safe shopping online.

All scam sites should be reported to the authorities and search engines like Google will blacklist the phoney results as they are made aware of them, but heightened vigilance amongst consumers is being urged.