Scam Alert: Beware of Internet Merchandise Scams

We were recently notified of a scam involving the new Denver character that we developed, Denver Bonnie, and using a version of LetsGoDU in the solicitation. Unfortunately, this scam website is taking money for merchandise and artwork that is not theirs and not sending merchandise to frustrated customers. They are using the same scheme with a number of other companies, schools, and teams.

According to ScamWatcher: The website looks rather reputable; however, appearances can be misleading.
The website is actually defrauding customers out of their money by never sending them what they have ordered.
The email address is unresponsive, and customers are unable to contact them and ask for their orders or request a refund.
Be careful and do not order from this website.

We talked to The Denver Athletic Company, a local marketer of athletic clothing, and they looked at the site in question and identified numerous trademark violations for schools, professional athletic teams, and companies. When ordering authentic DU merchandise, it is best to go on the University of Denver Website and order from the DU Bookstore. Any merchandise we sell on LetsGoDU is either trademarked by us or are non-trademarked items. Other merchandise sites that claim to be selling trademarked DU merchandise should generate careful research before ordering.

When buying merchandise online, check for the following:

Check the padlock in the address bar

URLs that are very close to the real site’s URL but not quite the same. Look for typos or use Google to see if a search takes you to the same page. Also, look for a padlock icon in the address bar. 

Click the padlock and look at the drop-down menu that provides information, such as if the site has a valid certificate like SSL (verifying that the web address belongs to the company), how many cookies are in use, other site settings, and whether your information is safe when sent to this site. 

The protection is pretty good but not perfect since some cybercriminals have been able to replicate these padlocks or take over legitimate sites that have them. 

Verify the website’s trust seal

Trust seals, such as the TrustedSite certification, are stamps created by a certificate authority (CA) to confirm the legitimacy of a site. A trust seal tells visitors that they are on a safe site and the company that displays the mark prioritizes cybersecurity. Click on it, and you should be taken to a webpage that verifies the authenticity of the trust seal. 

Use the Google Transparency Report

Google’s Safe Browsing technology crawls through billions of web addresses every day on the lookout for unsafe websites. The technology discovers thousands daily — often legitimate sites that have been compromised. Warnings for unsafe sites pop up in your browser and on the Google search engine. You can also search specific URLs to see if a site has been compromised.  

Check the company’s social media presence

It’s worth checking a company on social media to see if they appear to have a genuine following and legitimate posts. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) also has suggestions for spotting fake social media accounts, including those on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You should look for: 

  • Accounts with poor or no content and stock or recycled images 
  • Poor engagement with followers 
  • Lack of transparency about who runs the account 
  • Phony reviews 
  • Links to phishing scams and malware 

Review the company’s contact info

Another way to test the legitimacy of an online retail store is to check its contact information. Does it have a physical addressphone number, and email contact? Does the email address on the contact page have the company domain name in it, or is it generic (like a Gmail address)? If you send an email, does it get delivered? 

Analyze the overall look of the website

Check to see if the e-commerce site looks as if it has been professionally produced or whether it has been thrown together with slapdash results. Are there typos, grammar errors, poor-quality images, and a sloppy design? Does it have a poorly worded return policy or no return policy at all?  

All the things that undermine the professional appearance and authenticity of a site should be red flags and convince you that you’re on a scam website 

Verify if there are company reviews

If the online company is a legitimate website (not a scam site) and has been around for a while, there should be authentic third-party reviews from previous customers. Review sites include Google My BusinessAmazon, and Yelp. 

If the reviews are uniformly bad, on the other hand, you have another type of problem to confront.

Stay safe out there and rest assured, if there are legitimate outlets other than ours selling Denver Boone and Bonnie merchandise, we will make sure you know about it!

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