Crime Post

“Working for safer online trading” is the clear message from the Metropolitan Police Service after the last twelve months saw 1,800 bogus websites removed from circulation by detectives from the Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU).

Over the course of 2010, officers have worked closely with domain registrars to identify and take down the sites, which were either fraudulent or advertising counterfeit goods which failed to materialise.
A whole host of popular items and events were advertised for sale, including tickets for sporting events including Premier League football matches, and goods such as Ugg Australia Boots, ghd hair straighteners, and jewellery from Tiffany & Co and Links of London, as well as items from brands such as Timberland and Adidas. Unsuspecting shoppers were duped into shelling out money for the non-existent or counterfeit purchases.
The sites are run by organised criminal networks and thought to generate millions of pounds which can then be used to fund further illicit activity.
The preventative action was carried out in partnership with Nominet – the public body for UK domain name registrations – and involved a concentrated effort around the festive period; a time when we traditionally see an upsurge in this type of crime as fraudsters take advantage of the increased number of online consumers.

Detective Inspector Paul Hoare, PCeU, said: “The removal of these websites will have prevented numerous victims from falling foul to this type of offence. Good advice for online shoppers can be found at the Consumer Direct and Get Safe Online websites but as always, are advice is that as a general rule, if something looks like it is too good to be true, it probably is.”

With festive sales imminent, officers are taking the opportunity to remind the public of the need to be extra vigilant when shopping online; and offer the following advice:

– Know who you are dealing with – Check manufacturers’ websites to ensure you are buying from an approved and reputable retailer

– Be careful how you pay – If the purchase is over £100 consider using a credit card to protect your purchase, buy goods online through secure and encrypted payment systems, don’t be drawn off the site to other forms of payment and consider separate credit cards or accounts for online shopping.

– Protect your personal details – Don’t give away personal details unnecessarily, don’t ever reveal passwords or PIN numbers.

– Protect your computer – Ensure you have up-to-date anti-virus software on you computer, use a firewall and update you computer’s software regularly.

– Beware of unsolicited or spam email offers.

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