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UK police take down fake designer goods sites

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UK police have completed a massive take-down operation, after targeting scam websites selling fake designer goods.

More than 1,200 counterfeit-slinging UK-registered websites were grounded as part of Operation Papworth - an operation led by the Metropolitan Police's Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) - which targeted scam websites in the run-up to Christmas.

The sites claimed to offer designer goods - including Ugg Australia Boots, ghd hair straighteners, and jewellery from Tiffany - at discount prices, while actually offering only poor quality counterfeit kit, at best.

Innocent shoppers using the websites were also handing over payment card details that might later be used for credit card fraud. Police reckon many would-be bargain hunters received no goods for their payments.

Consumer Direct, Trading Standards, the Office of Fair Trading and manufacturers helped to identify the fraudulent web sites. Intelligence showed that the vast majority of the sites were registered from Asia, despite their UK domain names. Many were registered using false or misleading details.

The fake registration ploy made it almost impossible for victims to complain, while acting as an obstacle for action by Trading Standards or law enforcement agencies.

The PCeU worked in partnership with UK domain name registrar Nominet to take down fraudulent websites and prevent their re-registration.

The newly-established cybercop squad are working with Nominet and other top domain name registrars to prevent the future fraudulent site registrations. The Office of Fair Trading has also been brought on board to monitor and clamp down on similar scams in future.

Punters who purchased goods from one of the fraudulent sites are advised to contact Consumer Direct for advice. ®

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