How to easily recognise fake shops on the Internet

How to easily recognise fake shops on the Internet? Online shopping from home is convenient and simple. However, you should be careful because cyber crime¹ has increased in recent years and there are more and more scam online stores lurking on the Internet. A fake shop is an online shop operated by fraudsters with a fake or non-existent identity. The customers are attracted to these online stores by discounts. Often, the cybercriminals are operating from abroad and are difficult to reach. Once you fall for their scam, even lawyers cannot help you since these online stores and websites have a tendency to disappear quickly.

Internet users face two threats when visiting fraudulent websites: they risk having their data (such as credit card information) resold and they risk not receiving anything despite their payment.

Price differences on the Internet

Whoever is looking for a bargain runs the risk of coming across a fake online store. Unverified purchases on the Internet should be therefore rather omitted. The prices of various online stores can be compared in advance and the cheapest offer is not always the best option. Price comparison can be helpful when choosing where to online shop. Of course, there are reputable online stores that also offer branded goods at discounted prices. But if all products prices are 30-80% reduced, significantly below the recommended price of the provider, this may serve as an indication of fraudulent stores.

Payment Methods

Fake stores usually offer prepayment as a payment option. The payment options are mainly prepayment, credit card, Western Union or MoneyGram. The fraudsters take the money and send fake goods or do not send anything. Customers complaints often remain unanswered.


Non-delivery is by far the most common type of fraud. This type of fraud occurs when a customer does not receive a purchased item despite of the prepayment. Often, these customers do not receive the solution to this issue; rather, sellers inform their customers that they should be patient until the item arrives, although in reality, these were never shipped.


These online stores usually attract profitable branded products. Branded shoes, leather products, watches and electronic devices are often copied by Asian counterfeiters. The quality of the copies is bad, and the goods can also be destroyed if the customs penalty is not paid. The manufacturers of such items usually cannot be determined, and complaining to them and claiming damages does not bring any solution to this issue.

Recognize fake stores

However, fraudulent traders can be recognized by looking at their websites. Each reputable website must have an imprint, including VAT identification number (VAT ID number). Incomplete information is always suspicious. Each website should include details about the corporate headquarters and the management. A direct contact via email or phone must also exist. Here is an important tip: the contact option should be tested by a phone call before making an order. Likewise, the privacy policy on the website must be included, which has been declared as a specific law².

You should be especially careful when words such as “outlet”, “sale” or “cheap” or strange terms that have nothing to do with the website appear in the URL of the website and the store page.

Some fake stores unjustifiably include trust seals and payment options like PayPal on their websites. If the online store with security seals advertises “Trusted Store” or “TÜV”, you should be able to be redirected to the website of the seal provider. There, you will find further information about the online store. Another sign for caution is when the trust mark is not linked. In addition, it is helpful to inform yourself about the certain online stores through a corresponding online search. Just enter the name of the store in Google search and check the website’s validity!

A safe option is when the manufacturer is also the distributor of the goods, and you have the opportunity to make a direct order. Many manufacturers aim to shorten the distribution system and prefer direct shipment to the customers. As a result, the manufacturer is responsible for sales and shipping. In this case, the customers should have a direct and reliable person to contact regarding any problems, questions, complaints or incorrect deliveries.

The products of Donnerberg are available directly on our website and only at reputable online markets such as Amazon, eBay, Real, and Ricardo.

Have you had any experience with fraudulent online stores? If so, we would like to share more information with you on this topic.


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