Stuttgart/Berlin The consumer protection portal “Watchlist Internet” provides an example of this from the recent past: scammers not only build fake shops, but also imitate the Klarna payment service in a deceptively real way.
The user then unsuspectingly enters his online banking access data for the supposed instant transfer, which is then fished out by the criminals. Important: In this case, the Internet addresses when paying should be “Sofort.com” or “Klarna.com”.
Otherwise scammers are at work, who will probably also try to get a TAN from their victims in order to be able to steal money by bank transfer. According to the experts, they could pretend to be an employee of the house bank on the phone.
Names and prices can unmask fake shops
So it is better to identify fake shops beforehand. But how? If you are shopping in a shop for the first time, you should enter the name in a search engine. Have other customers had bad experiences or are there already warning reports? Are the prices too good to be true? Then they often aren’t.
And take a look at the imprint: “95 percent of fake shops have no imprint at all. And if there is no imprint, then hands off,” advises Thorsten Behrens from “Watchlist Internet”. Even with legal forms such as “Ltd.” or a conspicuous number of linguistic or spelling mistakes, caution is advised. An address check is also worthwhile: Is the company listed on online maps?
All the alarm bells should ring when a shop initially offers a whole range of payment options, but in the end only the prepayment option remains and all secure payment methods such as invoice or direct debit have disappeared. Then you should definitely cancel the purchase and never transfer money in advance.
In the case of classified ads, communication only via the platform
And what about classified ad portals? “The problem with these portals is that you know even less who you are dealing with than with classic online shopping,” says Thorsten Behrens. It is very important: Communication only via the respective platform.
Don’t be lured to other channels or sites. And don’t get involved in payments to supposed trust companies and preferably also not in transfers. Cash payment and personal delivery are preferred.
On classifieds portals, however, private sellers are also targeted by criminals. Especially with high-quality goods, scammers often claim to have already transferred the money and send fake payment receipts from payment services. Your calculus: The goods will be sent without any money actually having flowed.
The scam with supposed couriers or freight forwarders is also widespread: someone allegedly cannot pick up the goods themselves, for example because they claim to be abroad. However, he or she offers to send a courier or freight forwarder.
Pay as a seller? Don’t!
That means: hands off. Otherwise, the alleged buyer will ask you to pay the freight costs for the forwarding company, combined with the promise to transfer these delivery costs together with the purchase price. Then comes a fake e-mail that is supposed to prove receipt of payment, followed by bank details: supposedly those of the supposed shipping company.
Anyone who actually transfers the fictitious freight costs is rid of their money. Because the promised and supposedly proven payment never came into your own account. There are also variants of the forwarding trick, which are mainly about phishing and the supposed freight company asks you to provide credit card or account information. The criminals then tap into this sensitive data.
However, fraudulent offers can also be found on social media or by e-mail. In both cases, one should approach dream price offers critically, especially when it comes to popular or current high demand, be it the top smartphone, the solar system or a cheap gas supply contract.
Anyone who has “bitten the hook” with such bait and has given their data must often expect calls that generate ever-increasing pressure to buy or contract. “Consumers’ fears are being cleverly exploited here,” says Ingo Sorgatz from the victim protection organization Weißer Ring, for example with a view to the problems and challenges in the energy sector. Fraudsters would specifically target older generations in particular.
“You don’t get anything for free on the internet either.”
In order not to receive bait offers or phishing traps in the first place or less frequently, one should make sure that the e-mail provider or the e-mail program has an active spam filter, advises Joachim Schneider from the police crime prevention department of the federal states and the federal government applies in general: “You don’t get anything for free on the Internet either.”
Anyone who has been taken in by a scammer and has already transferred or sent money should not only inform their bank or the respective payment service provider, but also report any fraud.
Because only if the police become aware of such incidents can they identify fraudsters, identify new waves of fraud and react preventively. “An ad is a potential victim protection,” emphasizes Joachim Schneider: “You not only help to apprehend the perpetrators, but also prevent further crime victims.”