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Scotland Yard e-cops 'fighting to save Xmas'

Digital detectives smash 2,000 bent shopping websites

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UK cybercops have managed to dismantle more than 2,000 fraudulent shopping websites that have ripped off thousands.

The Met's Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) hopes smashing the online rogue traders will make online shopping in the run-up to Christmas much safer. The dodgy sites targeted by the action purported to sell a raft of designer goods, including brands such as Nike, GHD, Tiffany and Ugg at bargain prices. In reality many of the sites either took money without delivering the goods or supplied knock-offs.

The scam sites, which hoodwinked thousands and netted fraudsters millions, also created an identity theft risk. Credit card details and other personal information supplied to the sites might easily have been used to make fraudulent internet purchases or to establish lines of credit under false names.

The coppers worked with domain name registries and registrars to investigate the sites prior to the take-down operation, which was announced on Friday.

Detective Inspector Paul Hoare of the PCeU commented: “The sites suspended are registered in bulk by crime groups with the sole intention of duping consumers into parting with their money for, at best, poor quality counterfeit goods, or, at worst, nothing at all. In the run up to Christmas the PCeU will continue to work with Nominet and others to disable as many such sites as possible, but I would urge customers to take all precautions to ensure they buy from legitimate sites only.”

Further advice on safe online shopping can be found at Get Safe Online, Consumer Direct and The Metropolitan Police Service Fraud Alert site. Although billed as a fraud alert websites most of the content offers advice to both consumers and business on commonplace scams, rather than specific warnings about particular websites. ®

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