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Consumer Fraud

[PUBLISHED 6/26/19] Over the years we’ve seen scams targeting consumers through fake websites that exist for a couple of weeks and then disappear.  They’ll take your money and leave you with nothing.  Most recently we heard from a woman who purchased shoes online (June, 2019) through a website called Victorious-Shoes[.]com.  As we learn of other fake consumer websites, we’ll continue to add them here…

Victorious-Shoes[.]com

The woman, (we’ll call her “Anne”), told us that she is usually a “sharp and cautious consumer”  but she may have made a big mistake by ordering shoes after conducting a search through Google.  She said she didn’t think it was a good idea because she had a “funny feeling” about the website, but it was Father’s Day and her husband begged her for the shoes.   And so she ordered them, and her credit card was charged $59.95.  After two weeks she hadn’t received the shoes from Victorious-Shoes[.]com, nor had she received a confirmation that they had shipped.  She contacted us to ask us what we thought about this online shoe store.

The first thing we did was to look up the website in Google to see what Google showed for it….

Nothing struck us as terribly odd about Google’s returns, though 47 reviews seemed too few for a consumer product website unless it was brand new.  However, the 4.5 stars sounded conveniently outstanding and probably fake.  Also, we found it a bit odd that there weren’t many more links to this consumer website around the Internet.  We tried our search different ways but continued to get only one or two links for Victorious-Shoes[.]com, and no one else was talking about this business on other websites.  We decided to pick a pair of $60 shoes to order and see what the process looked like…

Victorious-Shoes informed us that they were an “accredited business” with the Better Business Bureau by posting the BBB logo at the top of the check-out screen.  This is an easy fact to verify.  We visited the BBB.org website and conducted a search for Victorious Shoes but found absolutely nothing.  Nothing even close to the name of this business.  Now we were more suspicious!

 

We conducted a WHOIS look up to see when the domain Victorious-Shoes[.]com had been registered and learned that it was registered about three weeks before Anne made her purchase on this website. (Registered on May 22, 2019.) That’s not a good sign!  Here’s what we knew so far…

1. The domain victorious-shoes.com was registered just 27 days before we were asked to check on this business.  It was registered through a Proxy service in Panama, according to a WHOIS lookup, so the identity of the business or person registering the site, was completely hidden.
2. Victorious-Shoes[.]com has a Facebook page from July/Aug 2018 but with very little information and only 63 likes as of June 18, 2019.
3. Anne sent us a link to Victorious-Shoes[.]com through which she made her order.  It clearly shows accreditation with a variety of other businesses like the Better Business Bureau. Yet, when we search for them at BBB.org, nothing comes up for this business. Also, mousing over  the logos for each of those affiliations on the check-out webpage shows that the link points right back to victorious-shoes.com, not to the affiliate with whom they are accredited. The graphics are therefore meaningless.
4. When we look up this website via Google search, we get very little information, besides a couple of pages from their website.

Most importantly, as of June 22, the Victorious-shoes[.]com website is down completely.  Any visit to it over the course of the last five days returns the message “this shop is unavailable.”  Also important, via a text message, Anne was given a phone number to call for customer service at Victorious-shoes (which is VERY odd).  However, the second time she tried to call it (June 25, 2019) she gets the message that it is “not a working number.”  The phone number she was given is 970-415-8228.

To add insult to injury…. A Google search informs us that in 2015 that phone number (970-415-8228) was associated with scam calls, as reported by people on 800notes.com:  https://800notes.com/Phone.aspx/1-970-415-8228  And we cannot find any association online whatsoever between this phone number and the business it claims to represent.

Does any of this pass the smell test? By our measurements, she’s been “had” by a fraudulent consumer site that took her money and ran!

 

ADDENDUM: There is a bit more to this story about Victorious-Shoes[.]com…

Before their website disappeared, we were able to take a bunch of screenshots and just reviewed them all.  These screenshots included their “Refund Policy.”  We noticed some odd things in that policy such as the fact that returns should be shipped to an address in France!  Most importantly, twice the refund policy informed consumers to contact them through the email address contact “@” mojoclock[.]com.  Mojoclock[.]com?  What happened to Victorious-Shoes?  Another rabbit hole to jump into….


Who is Mojoclock[.]com?  We looked up this website through Google and on June 26 found only 5 web pages for Mojoclock.  However, there were a few other strange websites that contained the email “contact “@” mojoclock[.]com… miss-vanity[.]com (registered 3 months earlier), smiling-first[.]com (registered 2 months earlier), and seeify[.]net (registered nearly 13 months earlier).  And mojoclock[.]com was registered 3 and one-half months earlier as well. What they all had in common is that they were registered through private proxy services to complete hide the ownership of these website domain names.


Mojoclock was clearly connected to Victorious-shoes through their refund policy, and it seems, to other consumer websites as well.  We tried to take a screenshot of Mojoclock using Screenshot Machine and this is what we discovered…

It appears to us that Mojoclock was a store set up on the Shopify network but never completed or taken down.  Why?  Like Victorious-Shoes, are these others websites we’ve uncovered all fake shopping sites?  This is a real possibility!  Check out the August, 2018 article below about the problem that Shopify is having as it tries to battle fake web stores set up on its platform.  Also, check out the thread on Reddit posted a year ago about this problem.

https://adage.com/article/digital/shopify-battles-scammers-fake-web-stores/314564

Scammed by a shopify store? from shopify

So the next time you see an online store with products you are interested to buy, do your homework in advance!  See what others are saying about it on Google, ask a WHOIS when the website domain was registered and by whom?  If it “smells bad”, stay away…  CAVEAT EMPTOR!