Fake Prada website shut down by Italian police
People pass by Prada’s store in Milan Reuters

The Italian police said that it has shut down a misleading website that had been selling fake Prada products. The Pordenone branch of Italy's financial police said on 22 January that the website had managed to dupe customers worldwide into thinking they had purchased products from the original website.

The Italian police said that the fake website was "very sophisticated" and used around 90 service providers placed at different parts of the world to keep the site running smoothly. It also used standard digital payment systems, commonly used by most retail chains when selling products online. Although the website sold counterfeit merchandise, the pictures it portrayed were copies of original Prada products.

The police indicated that the individual who cloned the website had been traced to an area in Loire, central France. However, the website is believed to have been registered in Netherlands and was operating via a server located in the UK, according to a Reuters report. Price tags of products indicated that the amounts were the same as those charged for original merchandise, as seen on Prada's official website.

However, payments were credited to a bank in China, which is also where the counterfeit merchandise is believed to have been manufactured. The fake products were shipped from Hong Kong, which means that the website charged its customers for customs expenses as well. Prada had received complaints from customers about the customs charges, which provoked the luxury retail brand to request a probe into the matter.

Experts from the Milan fashion house were consulted to provide an expert opinion on the authenticity of the products. The Italian police said, "The products, although very accurate in every detail, were not authentic. They were extremely well-made counterfeits." A French woman is believed to be at the centre of the counterfeit outfit, according to a report by The Local, an Italian news publication. Police are still investigating and hope to soon unearth other co-conspirators involved in the counterfeit outfit's network.