SUPER-COUPONING: Beware of “scam sites” when shopping online

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In late 2020, Gemini Advisory released a report on the explosion of this new kind of fraud, noting “e-Commerce scam shops operate as follows: the fraudsters create an online shop to advertise and sell their goods, collect customers’ payment card data and personally identifiable information as they unknowingly purchase faulty, counterfeit, or nonexistent products, and then sell that customer data on dark web marketplaces.”

Once your information has been captured, stolen, and sold, you’re opening yourself, and your credit or debit card, up to further fraud and identity theft issues.

I cannot stress enough that no matter how savvy you are online, you could be lured in by one of these scam shops. Many of them advertise heavily on social media networks like Facebook and Instagram, making themselves appear more legitimate.

One of my family members was interested in building a shed, but with the spike in lumber and plywood prices this year, he was putting it off. He decided to look at pricing for prefabricated shed kits. These kits typically run around $1,000 or more for an 8’ x 8’ shed. Then, he spotted a shed kit on a website for just $99 — with, what else — free shipping.

Knowing what you know now, is it likely he would ever have received the shed had he ordered it online? No. And, when he showed me the website, all of the clues I mentioned above were present. It had a bizarre, unpronounceable domain name that seemed to simply be a random string of characters. The site had an entire page of sheds for sale ranging in size from the small one he was looking at to a large, 21’ long shed — and all of them were priced at $99.

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