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Updated 06/04/2016

Online retailing is a very big business ... and so are scams about online retailing.

Some general guidelines to keep you safe:
  1.   It is not hard to bull images from legitimate web sites then construct your own
      fake retail site and paste legitimate pictures, logos and names then quote prices
      significantly below retail.  Building a web site is not expensive and takes little
      time.  Selling far below retail is even easier when you don't plan to send your
      customer anything.

      1.  Is the URL (web site link) tied back to the manufacturer of the goods if they
           are all from one or "sister" brands.  If not this is a RED FLAG.

      2.  Let's examine the following URL's below and see if you can spot the problem:

           a)  Would Izod spell their name with a zero and not a capital O?  RED FLAG
                   b)  The same for Tommy Hilfiger ... a zero and not a capital O?  RED FLAG
    )   Would Tommy Hilfiger spell their name with a stray letter "n"?  RED FLAG
    )   Harrod's use Dept Stores as the most famous store in Europe?  RED FLAG
               All of these are NOT easy to spot and done by intent to lure you into a trap.

          This is an example of a potential scan.  It is noted that this web site was shut
          down that supported the links, was registered in China and the expiration date
          for the web site was only a few months away.  Use to find this data.
          All URL's were removed from the objects for your safety.

Any major brand may be featured on scam websites.        

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  1.   Attached Gift Certificates
      This is an evolving scam that can take many forms most of which include
      attachments that may be:
          - bogus serialized Gift Certificates at a global or national company
             You may be surprised how many people receive the same serial number on
             their Gift Certificates

         -  malware or damaging computer software that can impact your security or
             computer.  One virus can infect many computers and everyone wants
             something free or dirt cheap.  Being too good to be believed is often a
             valid and correct assessment yet so many jump on the chance and bet burnt.


        The new risk has not been seen yet but here is an overview of what is possible with
        today's technology:

You open your e-mail and find a wonderful discount coupon you can print and bring to a store very near your home at a location you know and may have visited before.

You print then clip the coupon, rush to the store and buy the required items and leave the coupon for them with your information so you can receive the promised check mentioned in the e-mail.  The clerk is confused but takes your coupon to keep you happy.  Clerks don't always ask managers questions so you're on your way happy.

The manager may be concerned but only sees a customer's information, and with idea what it is about, possibly discards the information.

After a few weeks of no check, you storm the store insisting they explain where you
check is while staring at people who are startled and confused wondering if they need to call the local law enforcement fearing potential violence.

The bad guys have now scored a victory at multiple levels:
1)  they have burned you into buying items you may not have wanted in the first
2)  the story may not want to issue a refund for a number of reasons
3)  there was a scene alarming other customers so they are avoiding that store
4)  you are now a vocal opponent of that store and their promotions

And no one has figured out it was an elaborate game pulled off for people in some ZIP Codes.
And there is always a change, the Bad Guys have interest in the manufacturer of the goods sold.


        A potential attack is leveraging Social Media, most likely using non-professional
        web tools, to construct databases of "who knows who" and in what area.  This is a
        relationship pressure scam where a deep discount is offered if you get six of your
        friends to buy something at one store in your area.  The e-mail lists some of your
        friends ... who also received the same e-mail.  The phones start ringing as all of
        you can get this big discount and make out like a bandit.  The problem is the
        bandit is setting you and potentially the merchant for a fall.

        This may be a "hate" attack targeted at a special company to generate ill will with
        customers creating negative comments between friends and other shoppers,
        getting into the local new reports, etc.  Yet you believe the e-mail is legitimate as
        it included people you knew at a store near you and the e-mail listed that store by
        name with address.  Bad Guys win again.