Fake or genuine websites – Do you know the difference?

Black Friday, Cyber Monday and now Christmas. Surfing the web to get a bargain yes?


please be aware of fake websites.

The internet is populated with many fake and scam sites – with many being created daily purely to look genuine. Even many review sites are tainted with fake reviews making it almost impossible for somebody to detect a safe site from a scam.

Yesterday my son asked me to buy him a pair of football boots as part of his Christmas present. True to his form, my son had chosen the most expensive boots on the market for kids. Nike Mercurial Superfly boots (don’t ask!)

Letting him down gently on his choice, he then proceeded to use his due diligence and found what seemed to be an absolute bargain on a website for exactly the same boots shaving £130 of the retail price. Now, I know what you’re thinking, if it’s too good to be true, it usually is. I agree, and I initially used this saying to get me back on track to investigate further before parting with my well earn cash.

I will now share with you my ‘Due Diligence’ to help you check out e-commerce websites to determine if they’re fake or genuine. It’s not an exact science but I hope this will arm you with the facts of what to look for in what might appear to be genuine.


1. If it’s too good to be true, it usually is

Start with this first, if it’s ridiculously cheap for the same product elsewhere, then this should sound the alarm bells.

2. Check for Phone numbers and other contact details

Check for these anywhere on the web site including address, email, customer service contacts, anything at all so you can contact the vendor to even return your goods. If you find them, call them, ask questions if you’re not sure about their price or services, check with them if the web address you are using is genuinely theirs.

Some sites replicate genuine sites but the URL (web address) is usually different in some way e.g. amazon.co.uk (genuine) could be amazon-site.co.uk or amazon-retail-market.co.uk (examples only)

If you find a postal address then check it out on google maps. My rule is, if there is one without the other (phone and address) then don’t use the site. In all cases, if you do – call them first before doing anything. If you can’t get through (especially this time of year) just be patient, you are saving yourself from being ripped off. If it’s a fake number and it doesn’t exist, you have your answer.

3. Check for Reviews about the website

Search the internet for reviews about the website, it’s service, products and feedback. If you can’t find any, don’t use the site. If you do, then you have an informed choice whether to use their services or not. If, unusually, all reviews on their site have a 5 star rating then they’re usually fake. Be careful and check as much as you can.

4. Check Social media

If a website has social media links, check them out straight away. Some of these might have been suspended. The site I was investigating for my son’s football boots had all of their social media sites suspended for legal or other reasons – YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. This is another alarm bell indicator that the site is fake.

5. Payments to the website

Don’t pay anything until you have investigated the best way you can if the site is genuine first. Indicators of fake sites is sometimes the method in which they want you to pay. If there are no contact details to help you with payment issues and general assistance then it’s another indicator of a fake site.

Lastly, here’s a great web site service https://who.is/ to check out who owns the website and domain (web address) and if they beleive that site to be trustworthy or not.

Hope this helps, but if you’re not sure about a website, please contact me and I’ll try and help.

Kelvin – director OneDigitalMediaUK