Police in London are raising the alarm over websites selling fake products to British users, according to a Sky News report. While launching an awareness campaign to educate online shoppers, City of London Police's Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) revealed that some 28,000 websites selling fake goods to British consumers have been taken down since 2014. Of these, over 4,000 sites were created using stolen identities of the public.
The campaign, launched with a warning saying "there's more at stake when it's a fake," highlighted the consequences of purchasing counterfeit goods online, with a special focus towards identity theft.
According to the police, the name, address, and financial details provided by a person while shopping online could be mined by fraudsters to create forged websites to sell knock-off goods.
According to the police, about 400 identities have been stolen and used to create websites that sell forged products. They also cited the example of a victim who unknowingly bought goods from a fraudulent site and suffered identity theft when her details were used to create sites for selling more fake products.
"I think of myself as someone who is 'tech savvy' and so I was horrified when I discovered that I had been scammed," said Emily, the victim.
The PIPCU also noted that forged goods are made from poor quality materials and can sometimes pose a major threat to public safety. Though the unit highlights checking a product in person may not be possible, it lays stress on the fact that online shoppers should check the authenticity of the site as well as details of the seller before going ahead and making the purchase.
"Many people purchase counterfeit goods from bogus websites, knowingly and unknowingly, without realising that there can be significant consequences," Detective Inspector Nicholas Court said in a statement. "We are warning the public that 'there's more at stake when it's a fake' and that buying from a rogue site puts your personal and financial information at risk, meaning that criminals can use your identity for malicious means."