Warning, criminal online shops!

Four million Germans have already become victims of fraudsters on the Internet. How do I recognize fake shops?

The number of fake shops is increasing: A police chief inspector who specializes in prevention in the area of ​​cybercrime in the state criminal investigation office of Lower Saxony at his workplace.

Dhe offer in the online shop is tempting: winter jackets from a luxury brand are being advertised at bargain prices. The jackets should cost 70 percent less, and shipping is supposedly free. The Internet platform’s “special November offer” sounds too good to be true. And the online outlet, which has a professionally designed website with stylish product photos, turns out to be a fake shop. This means that the alleged branded goods are either of inferior quality or items that have been paid for are not being delivered. There are hundreds of thousands of online stores cheating consumers out of their money.

Some time ago, such fraudulent internet deals were easy to spot. Your websites were more badly done than right, and much of the information was suspicious at first glance. In the meantime, however, fake shops can hardly be distinguished from trustworthy online shops. “Some of them are copies of real existing websites, so they appear serious and rarely leave the buyer in doubt as to their authenticity,” says Chief Detective Harald Schmidt, Managing Director of Police Crime Prevention of the federal states and the federal states. Not only the product images on the fake sales platforms look real, but even the general terms and conditions and the imprint appear to inspire confidence. Which is because everything is copied from other online shops.

No matter how much the criminal police and consumer advocates can warn: Germans repeatedly fall for fraudulent internet dealers. They believe they are buying branded sports shoes, smartphones or bicycles, but get nothing or just junk for their money. The damage it causes is immense. A survey by the “Marktwächter Digitale Welt” conducted by the Brandenburg consumer organization last June showed that more than four million Germans have been caught in a fraudulent online shop. Many only noticed when it was too late: four out of ten victims did not get their money back if they had paid in advance – i.e. bank transfer or credit card. About a third of those who used a payment service such as Paypal did not get their money refunded either.

Boom for fake shop operators

Up to 20 Germans report to the market guards every month who have been cheated out of their goods or their money. Victims of fake shops should in any case report them to the police and bring all the evidence of the online purchase with them: sales contract, order confirmation or e-mail printouts. With such evidence, the deletion of a fake shop can be attempted. The criminal prosecution of perpetrators is difficult, “because they operate from abroad,” says criminal investigator Schmidt.