Online shoppers warned to beware copycat websites

Shoppers should be careful when buying goods online.
Shoppers should be careful when buying goods online.

Police and trading standards officers are warning residents to be on their guard against a new type of copycat website.

Lincolnshire Trading Standards has received a significant number of reports about ‘fake’ sites.

The websites feature cars, expensive machinery and large plant, all for sale at low prices. They are designed to look like existing local businesses websites, copying their contact details, addresses and information from Companies House. But they contain fake information and adverts copied from other websites but with the prices changed.

A number of customers were persuaded into sending money up front via bank transfer before seeing the cars. After the money had been transferred, the ‘company’ no longer responded to calls or emails.

Pam Allen, the council’s senior trading standards officer, said: “Although the majority of websites are genuine, there are a small number which are not. They use very sophisticated technology to dupe people into believing what they are seeing.”

Detective Constable Stuart Barnes, from Lincolnshire Police, added: “We would ask the public to observe due diligence when shopping online and to consider their actions when spending large sums.”

If you have been caught out by such a website, report it on 03454 040506 or at www.citizensadvice.org.uk.