3 ways to spot fake Star Wars merchandise online

NetNames offers up three ways to spot dodgy etail sites and fake merchandise
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Earlier this year, Maplin thanked the anticipation for the new Star Wars film for the increase in demand for retro tech.

Now that we’re well into the Christmas gift buying season, we’ve heard from NetNames that fraudster are taking advantage of the hype around Star Wars: The Force Awakens and are selling counterfeit merchandise to online shoppers.

“With Star Wars: The Force Awakens launching this month, fans will be keen to get their hands on the latest highly sought-after merchandise. However, with brands all over the world increasingly falling prey to cyber criminals selling counterfeit versions of products such as the Star Wars toys, consumers should be vigilant to avoid potential fakes,” said Haydn Simpson, commercial director, Western Europe at NetNames.

“The Internet is an ever-evolving and relatively unregulated space where counterfeiters are able to set up extremely high-quality fake websites and listings on marketplace sites, resulting in customers unknowingly buying counterfeit products,” explained Simpson.

“In particular, fake versions of electronic items pose real risks to users who may be putting themselves in physical danger by purchasing defective products.”

He noted that the most popular Star Wars toys this year including the app-enabled BB-8 and Jedi Master Lightsaber, noting that it’s important for consumers to know how to spot fakes.

NetNames’ director of commercial operations, Stuart Fuller, adds: “Fraudsters have exploited the continued rise of e-commerce and are employing increasingly sophisticated tactics to trick shoppers into unknowingly buying counterfeit products.”

To avoid falling into the hands of the ‘Dark side’, take a minute to look at Fuller’s three top tips that you can use to strike back at the counterfeiters:

1. How long ago was the domain name registered?
There are many different Star Wars domains, e.g. starwars.uk; star-wars.uk; star-wars.co.uk; star-wars.co.uk; starwarsco.uk, to list a few. To avoid confusion put the details into www.who.is and look at the date it was registered. Whilst it's not a fail-safe test, domains registered for a year or more tend to suggest a website that's reputable.

2. Does the website use a security certificate?
Websites that invest in protecting the personal and financial details of their customers always use SSL encryption. This is shown by a padlock in the website address bar. Additionally, when using certain browsers such as Chrome or Firefox, the URL bar will be as green as the lightsaber of a Jedi Knight.

3. Be suspicious about bargains
If a particular website is selling a Sphero BB-8 for significantly less than £100, think twice. When an online deal appears too good to be true, it probably is!

Dodgy retail websites aren’t the only fraudsters using Star Wars to trick people. Last month we reported that a Star Wars: The Force Awakens phishing email is predicted to be one of the top scams over this holiday season.

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