– Fake photo shop scams



Fake / scam photo stores pupporting to offer you the best deals have been cropping up a lot lately. It’s so obvious that it’s the same band of crooks. They must be making a small fortune, and getting away with it too… Because they keep coming back to try and make us part with our money time and time again.

I’ve covered two articles on these con artists before. However, I was a little slow on the uptake on previous occasions. This time I have been looking out for them and caught them on the first day of their criminal campaign. I cannot think of a worse fate for someone who has likely spent many weeks waiting for a deal that will afford them the equipment they desire to help them express their creativity; Only to be robbed of their precious funds and deny them that simple, but important pleasure.

Exposing their activity before on this website has helped save a few from experiencing that mistake. If it saves one, it is worth it!

Let’s have a brief look at their history; These are the websites the same people have used before:

1st campaign:

2nd campaign:

Each time, their process of luring victims is the same. It is effective and it robs hundreds of people every time. Eventually it gets taken down (after months), but not before ripping many people off for 1000s of dollars / euros / pounds sterling.

They pupport to be a genuine company selling camera equipment, video equipment, lenses etc. The website looks extremely professional, very attractive. They put phone numbers (usually an answering machine), addresses, company registration numbers (often real, but only just registered)… everything to make them look authentic. They even pretend to operate from a “bricks and mortar” store in England and say they’ve been in business for years.

In fact, a small amount of research will remove their mask of evil. This is information they cannot hide. For example, the registration of their web addresses. You can see from this website: that they registered all of those names together on 17th February 2011, just a few days ago. The entire website set up, as professional as it looks, is almost exactly the same as their previous incarnations.

Here is how they lure their victims: partners with Google adwords partners with Google adwords

They spend a great deal of money using Google adwords to prominently place their ‘not to be missed’ fantastic ‘too good to be true’ offer. The ad appears everywhere, on many of the photographic websites where people are looking for the lowest prices on cameras and video equipment.

The deal is, in fact, far too good to be true. The typical prices are well below wholesale, often as much as 30% below (although not too low as to arouse suspicion).

It pretends to allow you to pay by credit card, but adds a large percentage (17.5%) onto your price if you attempt it (I am not sure if it would allow you to actually pay by credit card – they’re counting on the fact you won’t -). The only other alternative is to pay by bank transfer.

Obviously, when you pay by bank transfer, the money is gone. You will never see your money, or your goods unless you act very quickly by calling your bank. Very often though, it’s too late.

Doubtless, scores of people will again be conned on this occasion. The website lasts for months before finally being forced down. Google themselves, appear to be happy to take their money in return for prominent advertising… Even after complaining to Google about it, the ads remain up for weeks. The “internet police” appear to care little for such criminal activity and allow it to go on for months before finally taking some action.

As always, the advice is to research into every site before you hand over cash. You wouldn’t trust a complete stranger with large sums of your money without checking them out first, now would you? So why do it on the internet?

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