People looking for a cheap designer bargain online have been warned to check who they give money to by police who have suspended more than 2,000 illegal websites selling fake luxury goods since the New Year.
Burberry, Longchamp, Abercrombie and Oakley, and jewellery designers Tiffany & Co and Thomas Sabo were among the brands offered for sale on the sites taken offline by the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), part of City of London Police’s economic crime directorate.
The goods people were receiving were “cheap and inferior counterfeits” of items including clothes, handbags, sunglasses, shoes and jewellery, detectives found.
Detective Chief Inspector Danny Medlycott, head of PIPCU, warned people against buying from any websites that look suspicious, saying it could do more damage than just paying for cheap imitations.
He said: “The general rule is if it looks too good to be true then it probably is; heavily discounted products are often a telltale sign that something isn’t right.
“When shopping online you need to be extremely vigilant that you are not misled into buying fakes. Many sites claim to be selling genuine items, but in fact they are just cheap imitations. In some cases, such as with electrical items, these products can be extremely dangerous as they aren’t subjected to the vigorous safety checks that legit items are.
“The criminals behind these websites will often take advantage of your personal details, such as financial information and so people may find their card has been compromised and used for other fraudulent scams. The sites themselves can also be harmful, as they contain malware and viruses that can infect your computer.”
The action was taken by PIPCU as part of Operation Ashiko. This sees police work in partnership with brands, brand protection organisations and internet registries to disrupt websites selling counterfeit goods to unsuspecting customers. It has suspended around 5,500 since it was launched in October 2013.
Oliver Guimaraes, managing director of globaleyez, a brand protection company which works with Thomas Sabo, said: “Since the start of Operation Ashiko we have seen a tremendous decrease in the number of websites selling fake Thomas Sabo products.”
Source Credits: Press Association