The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch has issued a concerning warning about potential scams hiding in Google search results. It appears that hackers are utilising Google to camouflage themselves and trick unsuspecting users.
According to Scamwatch, Aussies need to be cautious of scammers impersonating well-known websites and brands that feature in Google search results. What’s more, scammers may even go as far as paying for a Google ad to ensure their scams surface in the sponsored links positioned at the top of the search results page.
#Scamalert: Received a text from QANTAS lately? Watch out for messages appearing to be from QANTAS about your QANTAS points. Scammers are impersonating QANTAS. Never click on links in text messages. Ignore, delete, and block. Report all scams to https://t.co/AM4NByT6VO. pic.twitter.com/wKrjdoPByy— ACCC Scamwatch (@Scamwatch_gov) July 18, 2023
To avoid falling victim to these scams, Scamwatch advises people to be vigilant when encountering websites that mimic well-known brands. It’s crucial to double-check the website address to ensure it belongs to the genuine online store, particularly when encountering unbelievably low prices – a dead giveaway of a scam.
Online shopping scams have resulted in Aussies losing millions each year, and this number is growing each year. Scammers are creating authentic-looking stores and profiles to sell popular or luxury items. Products they commonly deceive people into purchasing include toys, BBQs, gym equipment, clothing, shoes, and phones. These fraudulent websites may either operate independently or imitate popular stores. Scammers also employ social media profiles, stores, or legitimate platforms like Amazon to sell their fake products.
The Scamwatch website offers some helpful tips to identify whether a website is genuine or fake. It is crucial to closely examine website URLs and watch out for red flags like multiple dashes or symbols in the domain name, domain names that imitate a legitimate business (e.g., “Ap9le”), and domains for Australian businesses that don’t end in “.com” or “.com.au.” If a website lacks contact information, it’s a clear indication of a scam.