When it comes to online fraud, it is sometimes easy to get swept away in the big numbers. 1.9 million phishing websites are created every month and it is estimated that more than £190,000 is lost each and every day in the UK alone. Behind these figures are real people and real stories.
We interviewed Suzanne, who is a recent victim of a cloned website about her experience of being defrauded, how it made her feel and what advice she would give others.
Can you give us a brief recap of your story?
"I was on eBay looking for Christmas gifts when I saw an advertisement that Pandora had a 70% sale on. I clicked through to the website and there was absolutely nothing that would have made me suspicious that I wasn't on their legitimate site. I placed an order and that was that. A couple of weeks later, I began to wonder where my order was, so Itried to log on to the Pandora website and couldn't get in. I phoned them and gave them my order code. After about 15 minutes of back and forth explaining I had bought these items on sale, the customer service agent began to sound concerned and told me they didn't have a sale on. After another ten minutes of talking, he informed me that it must not have been their website and I may have been defrauded."
What was your initial feeling at that point?
"Initially it was just shock. It had been a few weeks, how much damage had the scammers done? I called the bank and I immediately cancelled all my cards. I went through my recent transactions and luckily apart from the fake items I had bought, no other damage had been done. I was refunded in 72 hours and I have to say the process was very smooth and I am thankful to the RBS and their team."
Did the experience damage your perception of Pandora at all?
"I don't blame Pandora. Their customer service was very helpful on the phone, at the end of the day there must be hundreds of these scams everyday. I will say I was a bit annoyed that eBay had allowed the initial advert on their site. I know this will have come through Google, but still, because it was on eBay's site I trusted it."
What advice would you have for others?
"Many people assume it is the older generation who are falling for these scams, people less familiar with the internet. I am in my fifties, have been using the internet for more than 20 years, and am completely computer-literate. The problem these days is the scam websites are so convincing. Don't think for a second that you wouldn't fall for one! I would advise others that if they see a good offer, just search for the website yourself and double check it is real."
For major brands, online brand protection is becoming an uphill battle. If you have known brand, criminals are looking to leverage it.
Suzanne's story has a happy ending, she was able to get her money back and she will be extra careful in the future. Although she said that the experience didn't muddy her perception of Pandora, when we asked her if she was still planning on getting that Pandora bracelet as a Christmas gift... she said it was unlikely.
If your brand is looking to review your online exposure and act against infringements or scams, get in touch with the Lexsynergy Brand Protection Team for assistance.
Get in touch with Scott Kenna: firstname.lastname@example.org