International Investigation Uncovers Alleged Online Shopping Scam

International Investigation Uncovers Alleged Online Shopping Scam

( – With the growth of the technological era, people can get just about anything online. The internet also allows people to step into entrepreneurship by opening a shop to sell nearly anything they want. However, online shopping can pose risks, and over 800,000 people seem to have found that out the hard way.

Fake Online Shop Scams

An internal investigation by Le Monde, The Guardian, and Die Zeit is accusing a Chinese network of setting up a large-scale scam involving more than 20,000 fake online shops. The media outlets discovered the alleged criminal network through a collaborative reporting effort.

The conglomerate allegedly picks up expired domains from a database of 2.7 million options, allowing it to avoid detection. It’s accused of setting up online shops to entice customers, often offering high-end luxury goods at steep discounts. Through their probe, the publications found that the network seemed to originate from China’s Fujian province.

People visit these shops and complete their purchases using credit or debit cards or several other payment options. Then, it is alleged that one of two things happens: Either the online shop doesn’t charge the customer, or it charges them but never ships the products to the buyer. In either case, the scammers have already allegedly compromised the customer’s payment information because they have the entire card number and the CVC code.

Over 800,000 Fell Victim

According to the investigation, the conglomerate made the shops look so realistic that over 800,000 people throughout the United States and Europe fell victim to the tactic. Of those, more than half reportedly provided their credit or debit card information, giving the scammers everything they needed to commit fraud.

Since the group’s establishment in 2015, it may have tried to steal more than $54 million, per Fox News.

The fraudsters can also allegedly acquire personal information, such as one’s name and address, and use it to their advantage. It’s reported that they can sell the information on the dark web or use it to impersonate the victim.

Protect Yourself

If you’ve fallen victim to this network — or any online scam — you’re not alone. There are several steps you can take to protect yourself. First, it’s a good idea to avoid saving your financial information online. It’s quick and convenient to access while shopping but becomes a huge security risk. If your passwords or a shop where you’ve stored your information is compromised, that data could fall into the wrong hands.

It’s also important to make sure an online shop you’re considering buying from is legitimate. Buy from well-known websites and be wary of any deal that seems too good to be true — it probably is. Keep an eye on all of your credit card or bank transactions, and report anything that looks suspicious right away. Often, the banks will return your money if you prove it was fraud.

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