More than 50,000 websites have been suspended in London for selling counterfeit goods as Kenya plans similar move to protect consumers from fake products.
Last month the Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA) said that most household items sold by the virtual shopping websites such as electronics, cosmetics, cigarettes and alcoholic drinks are counterfeits.
In UK, the City of London Police said tens of thousands of online retailers have been taken down for flogging fake goods such as designer bags, accessories and jewellery.
Since 2013, 22,084 clothing websites, 15,975 footwear websites and 3,591 brands selling bags, accessories and jewellery have been caught out, as part of Operation Ashiko - the Government's crackdown on illegitimate goods.
It follows a widespread campaign, dubbed there’s more at stake when it’s a fake, to protect customers from cut price online items that are often of poor quality and potentially dangerous.
The City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit, which is leading the operation, said many of these websites also contain harmful viruses and malware and your personal information is also at risk of being compromised.
Detective chief inspector Nicholas Court, of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, said: "Since the launch of Operation Ashiko in October 2013, we have been extremely successful in removing websites selling counterfeit products and as such protecting people from the risks of IP crime.
"The sheer number of website takedowns should act as a warning online shoppers that there’s more at stake when it’s a fake," he added.
"When consumers make purchases on illicit sites, they are unknowingly handing over their personal and payment details to criminals who often use these to commit further crime."
Action Fraud has identified a number of preventative steps to help protect customers from online shopping fraud.
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Detective inspector Chris Felton told Mirror Money: "As with any online shopping, we would urge people to research a seller before paying any money. Search for reviews from people who have previously purchased from the seller and check the item description carefully. If you are unsure, ask the seller questions.
"To protect your money until you've resolved any problems with the seller, always pay suing a recognised service; never pay by money transfers."
Here are the signs to watch for:
If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t be fooled into thinking you’re getting a great deal.
Get the trader to tell you if they provide an after-sales service, warranty or guarantee. Most rogue traders don’t.
Make sure you understand how the website’s feedback function works. Feedback will give you useful information about recent transactions other buyers have made.
Check the item's description carefully – ask the seller questions if you’re not sure of something.
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Be aware of phishing emails that look like they come from the online auction or payment site you’re registered with, asking you to update your account details or re-enter them because your account has been suspended.
Check the URL in the web browser. A tactic often used by fraudsters is to change the address very slightly (if they’re spoofing an eBay site, for instance, they may have an address such as ‘. . . @ebayz.com’ whereas the real site is ‘. . . @ebay.com’)
Read the terms and conditions carefully, including those relating to any dispute resolution procedures the site offers.
Run the site through a search engine - often if a site is suspicious, there'll be people talking about it online.
As record numbers of gift buyers get set to purchase online, BarclaysDigiSafe has shared the following tips to avoid being fleeced by festive fraudsters:
Look out for the padlock symbol and ‘https’ in the address bar on retailers’ websites
Watch out for deals that look too good to be true
Never use public Wi-Fi to purchase shopping online
Never give out your PIN or online banking password – legitimate websites won’t ask for it.
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Keep an eye on your bank balance so that you can spot and report fraudulent transactions quickly