Online Shopping Scams – Brand Impersonation
The Cyber Security Authority (CSA) has noticed a variation of online shopping scam involving the impersonation of well-known local brands. It involves the creation and promotion of false contact information by malicious actors with the intention of defrauding victims.
- Brand Impersonation: The scammers create contact information on Google Maps mimicking known brands, complete with phone numbers that lead to them rather than the original entity.
- Search Engine Manipulation:The scammers manipulate search results for the targeted brand name using search engine optimisation techniques. When successful, their contact information appears prominently when prospective shoppers or buyers search for an entity. This helps the scammers to divert legitimate inquiries and establish communication with unsuspecting individuals.
- Online Fraud: The shoppers or buyers call the fake contact numbers which the scammers answer, pretending to be officers of the legitimate company. The scammers then take the orders, share invoices, and produce fake receipts. After the unsuspecting victims make payment (usually to a mobile money wallet), they are blocked, and the expected delivery does not materialise.
- Be Mindful of Search Engine Results: While search engines provide convenient access to information, they can also display manipulated or misleading results. Check on the official websites or with reliable sources to validate contact details rather than relying solely on search engine results. Also check user reviews for hints of the reputation of the contact.
- Double-Check Contact Information: Independently verify the contact details of a company or organization from multiple trusted sources. Cross-reference information from the official website, official documents, or directly contacting the company through verified channels.
- Exercise Caution with Unsolicited Contacts: Be wary of unexpected phone calls, emails, or messages from individuals or companies you haven't contacted first.
- Report Suspicious Activity: If you encounter or suspect fake contact information, report the incident to the CSA. Additionally, you can report the issue to the search engine or platform where the false information was encountered.
Contact the Cyber Security Authority
The CSA has a 24-hour Cybersecurity/Cybercrime Incident Reporting Points of Contact (PoC) for reporting cybercrimes and for seeking guidance and assistance on online activities, Call or Text – 292, WhatsApp – 0501603111, Email – email@example.com
Issued by Cyber Security Authority
September 25, 2023