Cops have closed 28,000 websites selling counterfeit goods over the last three years, the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) revealed today.
Out of those, more than 4,000 were registered using stolen identities of the UK public. Some 400 individuals have had their identity stolen and used in setting up criminal websites.
One of the main consequences of buying counterfeit goods on websites, social media and online is identity crime, it said.
When buying items, people will part with personal details such as their address and financial information which allows fraudsters to set up new websites selling counterfeit goods in their name.
That can negatively affect punters' credit score and chance of getting credit in the future, and can also take up to 300 hours for their identities to be fully regained.
Over 15,000 reports linked to identity crime were received by Action Fraud between April 2016 and March 2017.
PIPCU has launched an awareness campaign today which warns the public that "there’s more at stake when it's a fake".
Apparently fake football shirts were among the most popular counterfeit items.
PIPCU recommended customers always ensure the website address begins "https" at the payment stage and watch out for pop-ups asking for confirmation of card details.
Detective Inspector Nicholas Court, from PIPCU, said: “We are aware of many occurrences where criminals have put consumers at risk, compromising their identity as a result of their online shopping habits."
In July, PIPCU confirmed it had confiscated hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of counterfeit Cisco networking gear. ®