ScamAdvisor, brand protection online, counterfeits, knock-offs, replicas, intellectual property

How to Spot a Counterfeit Website

“Counterfeit goods can be alluring when the prices are significantly lower than consumers would normally pay for the genuine articles… but in exchange for lower prices or the promise of delivery, consumers can end up with lower quality or non-functioning goods, often with no recourse for repair, replacement or refund.”—Jeannette Kopko, spokesperson for BBB in Texas.

We know the problems consumers face on counterfeit websites, but how can they prevent themselves from being scammed? Here are some key website characteristics that are telltale signs a consumer is about to be duped:

1.  Includes the name of the brand in the URL, but throws in some extra words, such as outlet, online, country name (like Canada or the United States), and sale such as

2. Contact email doesn’t end in @brand name (i.e., @coach), instead it’s a Gmail or Hotmail account.

3. Has glaring spelling or grammatical errors, such as:

– “Your satisfaction (*^__^*) Our persuit! ! ! ! !”
 – “Please take easy, we are serious and reliable supplier of [brand] Outlet that just want to contact you timely for some problems of your order.”
– “Incomparable cheap price on the basis of equality and mutual benefits.”
– “Six years since the foundation of our online company, we have won the trusts and good judgments form our millions of old and new customers.”

4. Images or graphics look skewed or off: the graphics may be stretched, be a low resolution, display strange looking mannequins, or lack uniformity.

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5. Link structure is broken or doesn’t make sense. For example, you click on Terms of Use and it brings up a blank page, or you click on the site’s Facebook icon and it takes you to another page on their website. Another example is that social media site buttons are present, but not clickable.

6. Has Chinese characters or any reference to China anywhere on the site.

7. States that their product is 100% authentic.

8. Prices aren’t merely a good deal; they are too good to be true.

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The issue of inconvenience

There are many other factors that can be used to determine whether a site is reliable such as by seeing if it’s been blacklisted by a security service such as Google SafeBrowsing, by looking at its trustworthiness score in the WOT (Web of Trust) and determining whether the site has an extensive social media presence.

However, this is time consuming for the buyer and outside the scope of what the vast majority of consumers are willing to spend their time on. In other words, it’s inconvenient for the buyer.

How can consumers quickly determine whether a website is counterfeit?

Fortunately, there are websites that look at many of the above factors and more when determining the likelihood that a website is counterfeit.

Individual sites that offer this service may not be able to detect a website is selling counterfeits; however, there are two websites that are very trustworthy when used in tandem. If either website indicates a site might be a scam, consumers should not make any purchases on the suspicious site.

Users simply enter the URL of the suspected counterfeit website in ScamVoid and ScamAdvisor. ScamVoid indicates whether a website has a good, unknown or bad reputation. ScamVoid gives consumers a trust rating on a scale from being High Risk to Safe to use.

Both scam detector websites provide extensive information supporting the results of its analysis.

Consumers can also contact the company headquarters to get a list of online companies that are authorized to sell their product.

Consumers that have been sold a fake should contact the legitimate company to inform them that their intellectual property has been infringed. The consumer should give them whatever contact information they have about the fraudsters and details of the infringement.

The brand owner may issue a warning to their customers and take legal action against the infringers to protect their intellectual property and brand equity.

Photo Source: Flickr

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