How scammers are trying to take advantage of supply-chain shortages

Investigators

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Supply-chain shortages are making things difficult for holiday shoppers.

With many items either out of stock or on backorder, scammers are taking advantage of that by setting up fake websites. Experts say they are exploding this holiday season.

Online shopping is convenient, but it also can be costly if you get scammed.

Lexis Nexus Risk Solutions estimates consumers will have $20 billion stolen by criminals by the end of the holiday season through fake websites.

“The scammers always take advantage of anything they can, and this is just like a gift from heaven to have all the supply chain problems,” said Tom Stephens of the Better Business Bureau. “They can really hook on to those and get people to give them their money when they wouldn’t normally do it.”

Lexis Nexis Risk Solutions said it has seen the proliferation of over 5,000 fake websites in recent weeks, which is up from just 100 or so earlier this year.

Howard Talcove of Lexis Nexus Risk Solutions said: “It’s like a virus. It just spreads, and it doesn’t stop until the consumers stop falling for the trick.”

The U.S. Secret Service said overseas criminal groups are behind most of these fake sites, which are becoming increasingly sophisticated.

These fake websites have telltale red flags like misspellings, grammar mistakes, links on the page that don’t work, and a refusal to accept credit cards.

“These websites will often only ask for payment via a wire service such as PayPal, Venmo, or Zelle,” said Special Agent Dave Hollister of the Secret Service’s CyberFraud Task Force. “When the transaction is put through, those monies are gone.”

“It’s almost impossible for the consumer to get their money back.”

To protect yourself, security experts say it’s best not to click on a link for a shopping site you’ve never heard of.

Although that site may claim to have an out-of-stock or difficult-to-find item, chances are they won’t have the item if it’s sold out everywhere else.

More than likely, the unknown shopping website is using that claim as a lure to get your money.

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