More and more consumers are falling for fake internet shops. The fake shops are becoming more and more professional. How consumers can still recognize the dizziness.

What looks like a normal online shop can be fraudulent.

VAccording to a report on the new program “ARD-Kriminalreport”, consumers in Germany are cheated out of their money en masse through fake internet shops. According to an investigation by the organization “Marktwächter Digitale Welt” of the Brandenburg consumer center, 4.4 million German citizens are said to have fallen victim to “fake shops”. That was the result of a representative survey. “This scam is a really big problem,” said Kirsti Dautzenberg, from the market watchdog of the Brandenburg consumer center in an interview with the “Kriminalreport”.

At first glance, “fake shops” are often indistinguishable from reputable Internet shops. However, they are only posted on the Internet by criminals to defraud consumers. Goods from all areas are offered. Many of the “fake shops” offer sporting goods and, above all, sports shoes, mainly from well-known brands. But household items, clothing, electronics and bicycles are also available for purchase.

In the program, investigators report that the “fake shops” scene has become “more professional”. “It is difficult to recognize such a fake shop because the quality has increased extremely in the last few years,” said police chief inspector Fabian Herrmann from the cybercrime unit of the Offenburg police on ARD. In the past, the fake shops were still recognized by typing errors. “But that is no longer the case today.” As a rule, the “fake shops” are structured like a normal online shop.

It is critical that the criminals systematically obtain Internet addresses with the domain ending “.de”. This feigns consumers a security that does not exist. In some cases, the shops can only be found on the Internet for a short time. Consumers should be suspicious if the domain names of the shops have no relation to the products offered there. Consumers should also be skeptical when the goods on offer are advertised at a significant discount. In “fake shops”, payment is usually only possible in advance.