Explosive growth in online shopping fraud, hundreds of cases investigated

The police took action against suspect online retailers 438 times last year, compared with just 35 times in 2016, the AD reported on Tuesday.

In some cases, conmen had made replicas of the websites used by reputable shops in an effort to steal cash, the paper said. In others, they bought up existing domain names which they then use to set up in business for a short period.

Consumers who use the fake websites either never see the goods they have ordered or are sent counterfeit items. In some cases, the conmen use credit card information from their victims to steal more money.

In total, police received over 38,300 reports of online shopping fraud last year although in 5,500 cases the complaint was withdrawn after the ordered goods arrived late.

On average, the victims lost almost €200, the AD said.