The City of London Police has shut down 28,000 websites selling counterfeit goods over the past three years, many of which were registered with stolen identities, it has revealed.
Over 4000 sites were created using the identities of unsuspecting members of the public, according to the force, which released the figures as part of a new awareness campaign.
Action Fraud, the national fraud and cyber reporting center hosted by the City of London Police, received over 15,000 reports of identity crime over the past year; April 2016 to March 2017.
Its new campaign – “there’s more at stake when it’s fake” – is intended to warn netizens of the danger of buying from counterfeit sites.
The force’s Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) claimed that it has contacted 400 individuals over the past two years to tell them their identities have been stolen and used to register websites after they bought fake goods from just such a site.
It warned the public that identity theft can ruin credit scores, take 300 hours on average to resolve and cause emotional distress for those affected.
There’s also a risk of getting inferior quality or even dangerous goods when buying fakes online, PIPCU said.
Footwear and football shirts are the most popular counterfeit items sold online, it added.
PIPCU’s detective inspector Nicholas Court, revealed that the unit has seen countless incidents where netizens’ identities have been compromised as a result of their online shopping habits.
“We are warning the public that ‘there’s more at stake when it’s a fake’ and that buying from a rogue site puts your personal and financial information at risk, meaning that criminals can use your identity for malicious means,” he added.
“So far we have been instrumental in the take-down of thousands of websites selling counterfeit goods and prevented thousands of consumers from handing over their personal and payment details to criminals and organized crime groups who often commit further crime including identity theft.”