Not counterfeit money. Counterfeit websites.
In a high-tech twist upon the art of the scam, fake websites selling fake merchandise have sprung up across the Internet.
Think you’re on luxury jeweler Tiffany’s website? You might be on a counterfeit site. Think you’re on Prada’s website, or Gucci’s or Chanel’s? Maybe not – you might be on a counterfeit site.
If you do end up making a purchase from a counterfeit site, the problem isn’t that you won’t get some merchandise for your money. You’ll get something. But it probably won’t be what you thought you were going to get.
Because most of the ‘fake’ websites are selling ‘fake’ merchandise – merchandise that imitates a brand name product, but that is vastly, sometimes dangerously, inferior.
Examples of some of the ‘fake’ products sold online include:
• Batteries that are packaged to look like the popular name brand Duracells, but instead are sub-par substitutes. The knockoff ‘Duracells’ are so bad that they might explode if you use them.
• Toothpaste packaged to mimic a popular name brand such as Crest. Some examples of ‘fake’ toothpastes seized by authorities have contained significant levels of harmful bacteria. Counterfeit shampoos have also been found to be infested with bacteria.
• Counterfeit extension cords that are likely to deliver a shock or start a fire.
• Counterfeit pharmaceuticals that contain no active ingredients, and therefore offer no more medical benefits than a placebo. Even ‘fake’ cancer medications have been sold online from counterfeit sites.
• Counterfeit replacement parts for automobiles, including airbags. Many of the ‘fake’ airbags fail to deploy, and some that do deploy explode like a bomb, shooting a geyser of flame into the face of a passenger during an accident.
How to Protect Yourself From Online Counterfeiters
The proliferation of counterfeit websites is a problem that’s not going away anytime soon. And in spite of the best efforts of law enforcement authorities, the number of online counterfeiters has been exploding of late.
What can you do to protect yourself from online scam artists? Authorities offer a couple of tips:
• To go to a merchant’s website, type the name of the merchant’s site into your browser’s navigation bar instead of clicking on a link. Typing the name in will send you directly to the merchant’s site, while a link can be misdirected. A link might say “Walmart,” for example, but the code hidden behind the link might send you to a counterfeit site.
• If you’re doing some shopping on a site, and find yourself redirected to a different site when it comes time to pay for the merchandise you’ve selected, that’s a bad sign. You should probably cancel the transaction, because redirection to a different site for checkout is a counterfeiter’s trick.
One Last Tip…
If you should end up on a counterfeit site in spite of observing the precautions above, you have one last barrier of defense to protect from being taken. It’s an old saying that you’ve known for all of your life. It’s just as true now as it’s ever been.
And if you’re on a website that’s advertising prices for name brand merchandise that just seem outrageously low, hopefully that old saying will come to mind: “If it seems to good to be true, …”
There’s no need to finish the sentence, is there? You know it by heart. It’s a truism worth living by – these days more than ever.