[email protected] is one of the numerous email addresses used by scam online stores. Though it looks legit, online stores associated to it are known to be fraudulent and do not deliver the items bought by customers.
They also engage in bait and switch scam, subscription scams, and identity theft. This kind of online shopping scam became rampant since the COVID-19 pandemic, preying on buyers who have the only option to buy things online.
Ser[email protected] Scam Format: How Does It Work?
The scam uses clearance sale or unbelievable discount of goods to entice customers on Facebook, Instagram, or even TikTok. The ads use often have a note of urgency ‘Offer closing soon’ ‘Don’t Miss Out’ ‘Last Day Clearance Sale’, etc.
Sometimes, the scam impersonates popular brands like Bed Bath Beyond, Cath Kidston, Pink Lily, etc. All these are social engineering tactics to gain buyers trust and make people fall for the offer.
After customers make payment, the scam store does not deliver the items paid for or send a feedback. In rare cases, they send fake tracking number or even a total cheaper item instead of what was ordered.
The Structure of [email protected] Scam
[email protected] scam shopping sites have a six layer structure;
Uses A Recently Registered Website
The scammers always use a fresh website that is easy to dispose off. Sometimes they buy a domain that looks similar to that of popular brands; BedBathbeyondUs Pinklily-sale, etc. All to increase their chance of making people fall for their scam offer.
Displays a UK Address or Company
UK address are often used by the fake shopping sites. However, it’s just a virtual address, even the company often listed is easily registered on Companies House were you can register any kind of company for as low as $5.
Uses Ads On Social Media With Discounts That are Too Good To Be Ignored
These fraudulent websites use ads on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. These ads appear randomly on people’s pages with mouth-watering discounts.
Hooks Customers with Fake Reviews & Trust Budges
Aside from enticing customers with low prices, the scam also uses falsified reviews and Trust Badges which is easily gotten off the internet. They do this to increase the level of trust and make buyers lower their guards.
Collects Payments and Disappears
Once the buyer make a payment the scammers completely vanishes. There’s no feedback or positive response.
Shuts Down The Website & Start A New One
Once there are lots of negative reviews online about a particular website, the scammers shut it down and it becomes inaccessible. Then they move on to another website, and start the structure again.
What To Do If You’re a Victim of This Online Shopping Scam
Contact Your bank To Cancel The Transaction and Get a Refund
The first thing you should do is contact your bank to inform them about the fraudulent purchase. Through the chargeback system, you can get your money back from the transaction if you file a dispute claim. You could also request for a credit card freeze. That way, your bank would block any future transactions on your credit card, ensuring that scammers are unable to exploit it.
Update Your Passwords and Enable Two Factor Authentication
The second step you should take is updating your passwords. This should be done if you’ve used the same password you used on the websites or applications. You should also go an extra step of enabling two-factor authentication. This would keep you protected from data breech.
Meanwhile, you should beware of any fraudulent email from [email protected]. Do not click on any suspicious link in the email, as it could be a phishing scam. Clicking on the link might install malware on your phone which could compromise your device’s security.
How To Know if a Website is Legit or Scam This 2023
According to FTC, online shopping fraud is the most reported fraud category of 2023. Below are steps to take in order to stay safe and avoid this kind of scam;
Check the Domain age – How old is the website? (You can do so by visiting who.is)
Website Security Check – find out if the website is secured with SSL encryption. (https and padlock symbols).
Find Out Its Physical Location – Does The website provide return address? If Yes (Copy the address and paste on your browser. Google map would show if it is a real warehouse address or a residential address)
Check For Reviews – Are there customer reviews online? (It is advised that you sit it out if there are no customer reviews of the store. However if you’re not patient enough to wait you can send a mail to us to verify if the store is legit)
Beware of the returns and refund policy before purchasing – If the policy isn’t available or if it isn’t favorable to customers, you should quit shopping.
Use secure methods of payment that protect the buyer – payments portals like PayPal make it easy to get your money back.
Servicesupport001@mqcontactmail is an email address used by fraudulent online stores. The structure of this scam starts with a recently registered website, discount sales offer, and ends with the website shutting down after receiving bulk payment from buyers.
The sad thing about this scam is that it’s an offshore scam so it is difficult apprehending the scammers. However, all hope is not lost. If you’re a victim, kindly report the scam to authorities like the FTC and IC3 immediately.
Collect evidence like ads and screenshots. You should also dispute credit card payments as fraudulent with your bank.