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Online shoppers losing money to copycat websites

12 Scams of Christmas: Day 9
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Posted at 6:01 AM, Dec 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-16 08:08:59-05

BALTIMORE — Shipping windows for holiday deliveries are shrinking, so when you find that perfect item you may feel the need to act fast, but the FBI and Better Business Bureau are urging shoppers to take a minute to investigate the website.

“It is so easy to get misdirected to a fake website,” said Angie Barnett, president and CEO of the BBB serving greater Maryland.

It recently happened to Keena Antonelli.

She wanted a kayak and an ad from a familiar retailer popped up in her Facebook feed. She found the perfect one then went to checkout.

“I put in my credit card information, mailing information, everything. The screen kind of hung for a minute and I thought well, this is weird and then I got a pop up message that said your transaction cannot be processed with this card,” said Antonelli.

She checked her credit card transaction and saw the name of a different retailer.

“Then I went back to the website and that’s when I noticed the actual URL is intexcs.com and not just intexcorp.com,” Antonelli said.

The website connected to the ad is a near exact replica of the legitimate retailer, minus the slightly different URL, random address in Pennsylvania, and phone number, which is off by one digit.

“It’s very easy to create a legitimate looking website using authentic product descriptions and pictures,but when you press the button who knows what’s going to show up, often it is a cheap knock-off,” said Supervisory Special Agent Keith Custer with FBI Baltimore.

Custer added that Antonelli did the right thing by using a credit card, but a little more research could’ve saved her the headache of having to dispute the charge.

And instead of the kayak she’d been wanting, Antonelli received counterfeit Ray Bans from somewhere in China.

“Anytime you’re going through something that’s redirecting you to another place that’s something you should look out for. And I should know, and didn’t, so hopefully people can learn from my mistakes,” said Antonelli.

Instead of clicking through an ad, type in the product you want in a search engine.

Check out the contact page for more information about the seller.

And websites like WHOis.net or GoDaddy.com/whois will give you more information on the website including when it was first created. It can be a red flag if they haven’t been in business very long.