Chinese Fake Online Shops Deceiving US and European Citizens Stealing Personal Information, Report Suggests

Online Scams

A Chinese network operating numerous fake online shops has scammed over 800,000 people in the U.S. and Europe.

These shops deceive people into sharing card details and other sensitive personal information by pretending to offer discounted goods from premium brands like Dior, Nike, Lacoste, Hugo Boss, Versace, and Prada, among others.

The Chinese network runs more than 22,500 fake online shops, according to an international investigation by The Guardian, Die Zeit, and Le Monde.

These shops lure people into giving away their credit and debit card details, names, phone numbers, email, and postal addresses by claiming to offer designer brands at a discount.

There are two levels to this scam. In the first level, fake payment gateways trick people into entering their credit card information without charging them, allowing scammers to steal card details without taking money.

In the second level, the criminals set up fake online stores or other platforms where they actually take money from people.

The Chinese network uses expired domains to host its fake shops, helping them avoid detection by websites or brand owners. The network reportedly has a database of 2.7 million of these orphaned domains and runs tests to determine which ones are best to use.

Premium Fashion Brands

To date, approximately 800,000 people, primarily in the U.S. and Europe, have shared their email addresses, with 476,000 of them also providing their debit and credit card details, including the three-digit security numbers.

The first fake shops in this network were established in 2015. Since then, the group may have attempted to steal up to approximately $54.2 million.

Many people believed these fake online shops were legitimate and placed orders, thinking they were getting a great deal. Melanie Brown from Shropshire, England, told that she was looking for a new handbag and found a leather bag from her favorite German designer, Rundholz, at 50% off on one of these fake online shops.

Tempted by the deal, she added it to her cart, along with other designer clothes from Magnolia Pearl, totaling £1,200, which is approximately $1,529 for 15 items. However, Brown never received the items.

Premium Fashion Brands

One German shopper paid for a blazer but received cheap sunglasses. A British customer received a fake Cartier ring instead of a shirt, and another got a non-branded blue jumper instead of the Paul Smith one they ordered.

The fake online shop scam doesn’t immediately cause monetary harm to you. As The Guardian reports, “many who tried to shop never lost money. Either their bank blocked the payment or the fake shop itself did not process it.”

However, in all cases, these scammers obtained your data, including your address and card details. This data can be used in many ways.

The scammers can use it to steal more money than you’d spend on the online shop. They can impersonate your bank or someone you know to trick you into giving them money. Additionally, they can sell this data to dark web criminals or companies for marketing purposes.

Mason Williams
Driven by a commitment to integrity and excellence, Mason's writing empowers readers to make informed decisions, facing challenges, and seize opportunities in an increasingly complex world. His work serves as a guiding light, illuminating the way forward amidst uncertainty.