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Irish consumers likely to be among 800,000 victims of fake online shops



Irish consumers likely to be among 800,000 victims of fake online shops

Some 76,000 fake designer websites pretending to be major brands like Nike, Dior, Lacoste, and Hugo Boss were set up in languages including English by what appears to be a nefarious Chinese network.

People were tricked into sharing bank card details and other personal information, an international investigation by the Guardian, Die Zeit and Le Monde found.

Cyber Ireland chairman Pat Larkin said if this scam has hit Europe, “it’s more than likely some Irish people would have been affected”. 

He said such sites mimic brands, offering large discounts to convince victims to enter their credit card details. He added: 

The overarching principle generally is, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. 

China is one of the biggest players in online fraud, he said. Russia, Iran and North Korea are also major cybercrime players with cryptocurrency heists now helping to fuel the North Korean economy. 

Although artificial intelligence is accelerating cyber crime attacks, it is also being used increasingly effectively in the defence against online fraud. 

Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau said Gardaí have not been notified of the Chinese scam.

But he warned that there are multiple ways to be defrauded when online shopping. Criminals can access your bank card details through cloned websites and although no money may be taken from that transaction, that card can then be used for future purchases. 

In 2020, €1.5m was reported stolen online; €1.2m was reported in 2021; €1m was reported in 2022; €850,000 was reported in 2023 and in the first four months of 2024, about €250,000 has been reported, he said.  

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