Web Shop Scams

I use this blog to name and shame fraudulent webshops that has pretended to sell expensive electronics and photographic equipment at prices too good to be true.

The scam goes like this: They advertise expensive items for sale through what looks like a regular webshop, but collect your money and never ship you the goods.

Some variations of this scam display credit card emblems and list credit cards as a payment option, but if you go through the motions, you either end up with an error message (claiming that payment by credit card is temporarily unavailable), or a hi-jacked checkout page belonging to an e-commerce provider with lax security (e.g. WorldPay). In many cases, they register your card and other data such as the CVC2/CVV2-numbers, to sell those numbers to other thieves.

And in the end, they will ask you to pay with an untraceable and unrecoverable method, such as wire transfer (e.g. MoneyGram, Western Union), E-Gold, PayPal, or direct bank transfer.

To stop Western Union from warning you about known scammers, they instruct you to wire the money to some individual (not the company).

They pick up your money minutes after it has been wired, don't send you anything, and start ignoring your emails. There is nobody you can sue. Their web site is registered in the name of some victim of identity theft, and their physical contact address is bogus. They often operate in concert with fraudulent escrow services, or non-existent buyer protection programs, to create a false sense of security. Their main form of advertising is through search engines (e.g. Google Product Search), price comparison websites and banner ads. Unfortunately, Google Product Search, Adsense and the most other promotion services disclaim responsibility and refuse to act when they are informed about their service being used to advertise a scam.

Note that if you use your credit card to pay for wire transfer or E-Gold, you are not protected by your credit card's, or any other, buyer protection program.

Known perpetrators of this scam (all offline now) have used the following names: AllDigitalDreams.com, AxusDigital.com, CameraPot.com, ChemBiotin.com, Cherry-Computers.com, DigiBest.com, Digitals365.com, EscGate.com, ElectroDomi.com, ElSider.com, FineTronics.com, KelloCity.com, Net­Consumer­Electronics.com, NewCameraShop.com, OnixStyle.com, SunLightics.com, TengdaMall.com, The-Camera-World.com, ComPCWorkshop.com, ComputerUnix.com, sa-electronic.com, FirstCameras.net, PCdigital.eu, GearXS.us.com, Aigars.co.uk, AnviDirect.co.uk, Axcor.co.uk, Calemet.co.uk, CarsAudio.co.uk, CompTeh.co.uk, cxMusic.co.uk, DexDigital.co.uk, DigiEquip.co.uk, DigitalDale.co.uk, DigitalSys.co.uk, DirectInc.co.uk, DJOnLineStore.co.uk, DrumTeh.co.uk, Euden.co.uk, InTeh.co.uk, MobiTeh.co.uk, EastElectronics.co.uk, Gonex.co.uk, Instrum.co.uk, KeyDigital.co.uk, MobileInc.co.uk, Nexline.co.uk, Nexline.eu, Nexton.co.uk, OrvisInc.co.uk, PactElect.co.uk, PCDale.co.uk, StarkDigital.co.uk, WizMusic.co.uk, wxComputers.com, wLogic.co.uk, evadis.co.uk, mobicestore.co.uk, mobice.co.uk, cendice.co.uk, cendicestore.com, tonexstore.co.uk, tonexshop.com, xenosworld.co.uk and xenosworld.com and Xdigi.co.uk.

The most recent variations are: suntobay.com, mostransit.com, ruspromsnab.com, mooushop.com, elenot.com, elemobi.com, holater.co.uk. Buyer beware.

Names of these outfits keep changing, so don't pay too much attention to the name. The telltale sign is their insistence on insecure payment methods (wire or bank transfer, PayPal or E-Gold), as well as the use of a bogus physical addresses. For more general advice on how to spot online fraud, please see my page on web scams.

Artists against 419 runs the fake website database, where you can search for the name of a suspect company to check whether they are a known scammer. Please report new incarnations of these webshops to the artists as soon as you see them. If you know how to trace an IP-address, you should also report perpetrators to their ISP hosting company.

I urge those defrauded by this type of scam to report the perpetrator to the local police and the cybercrime authorities in the relevant country.

Note to fellow bloggers: Please help spread the word about the dangers of insecure payment methods by blogging it - but don't link to the websites themselves. Linking to a website boosts its pagerank in Google and many other web search engines, which is not what we want. Mention their name, but don't link.