Italy Starts Seizing Large-Scale Fake E-Commerce Websites
The illicit network of more than 13,000 online fake shops, discovered by the Italian cybersecurity firm Yarix.
Italian officials have this week begun seizing what could be one of the world's largest networks of online fake shops, which have defrauded would-be customers by appearing to offer discounted goods from luxury brands such as Giorgio Armani SpA and Prada SpA that never materialize.
The illicit network of more than 13,000 online fake shops, discovered by the Italian cybersecurity firm Yarix, is allegedly managed by a group of Chinese cyber-criminals, as suggested by infrastructure code as well as the payment system's gateway, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named discussing confidential information.
A spokesman for Yarix confirmed the company is actively assisting a large-scale investigation aimed at taking down fake e-shops. The investigation could later be joined by law enforcement agencies of other European countries and the US, the spokesman added.
Officials at Italian law enforcement agency Polizia Postale on Wednesday started taking down some of these digital fake shops related to Italian brands, the people said.
These sites are well-designed imitations of genuine corporate websites, and customers are usually attracted because of discounted prices. But no deliveries are made, and the websites generally include a real credit card payment platform used to steal buyers' financial data, the people said.
A representative for Italy's Polizia Postale confirmed the operation and declined to comment on details.
“What we revealed is a coordinated, infrastructured network of well-designed fake shops across the world that in the last two years have probably stolen tens of millions of euros, dollars from unsuspecting clients,” Mirko Gatto, chief executive officer at Yarix, said in a phone interview.
Italian fashion brands targeted by the criminal network include Brunello Cucinelli, Dolce & Gabbana, Ermenegildo Zegna and Moncler, the people said. The cyber-criminals also targeted international sports brands such as Nike, Adidas and New Balance, they said.
Most of the fake shops' servers and digital platforms searched in the current probe are located in Panama, Turkey and the US, the people said.
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