CustomerServiceBest & Oxborder Scam Network – 160+ Websites
Fake online stores of popular brands
What is the CustomerServiceBest & Oxborder Network?
You might have read about copycat stores in countries like China, such as the fake Apple store that was so convincing, even the employees thought it was real. The problem of fake stores is even more prevalent online because it’s much easier to set up a fake online store than a physical one.
Copycat online stores present themselves as official websites of popular brands but are unauthorized. These sites can are created for various nefarious purposes such as selling counterfeits, defrauding customers or phishing payment details.
Fellow scam fighter Suzie tipped me off about a huge network of copycat stores which claim to be selling products by top brands at huge discounts. These websites impersonate brands from various categories including sneakers (Adidas, Nike, Skechers, etc.), outdoor gear (Roots, Patagonia, Trek, etc.), jewellery (Swarovski), designer handbags (Michael Kors), outdoor pools (Intex) and more.
These websites are poorly-designed and only slightly resemble the original brand stores. However, they use brand logos and trademarks without permission to fool people into thinking they are selling genuine merchandise.
The scam starts with Facebook ads. Facebook is clearly overwhelmed by the volume of these scams and is unable to protect the interests of its users. Fake pages are rampant on the site and users are getting scammed daily. From what I have observed, such ads tend to target women as they shop online more often than men. Check the list at the end of the page to see the page names that are used by scammers.
Upon closer inspection, Suzie found two email IDs which are associated with these copycat websites: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
The Contact Us page of these websites predominantly provide the email ID email@example.com while a much smaller number of websites show firstname.lastname@example.org. The full list of these websites is at the end of the article.
Some of the websites in the network are more prominent than others. The scammers have hijacked genuine websites and use them to redirect to the scam websites. I’m guessing this was done either for visibility on Google or to run ads, as the original domain names may have been blacklisted. The following fake websites are using redirects from hijacked websites and seem to be the most popular ones in the scam network:
Neither customerservicebest.com or oxborder.com are active websites. Surprisingly, the email IDs seem to be active. Helpdesk@customerservicebest.com is running on a Yandex.ru server which implies that these websites have Russian origin.
Along with sharing email IDs, many of the websites share IP addresses, which confirms that the websites and Facebook pages are part of a larger network. They also share the same complaints by customers.
Upon checking the reviews of some of the sites in the list, I found that these websites were pulling off the same scams as the Kokoerp and Uniqueness fake website networks. Most of the reviewers are complaining that they were sent fake Rayban sunglasses instead of their order, or were given fake tracking numbers and received nothing at all. They also mention variations of the email IDs mentioned earlier.
The next time you see an alluring Facebook ad, check whether the website mentions email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or any variations of the same. If they do, you can be sure they’re a scam.
An easy but effective step you can take to stop these scams is to report the page and the ad. It’s important to report both to stop the scammers dead in their tracks.
How To Avoid Getting Scammed by Fake Copycat Websites
The lure of a huge discount can be irresistible, but being a little aware can save you from getting scammed. Keep these simple tips in mind to avoid falling into the trap of scammers:
1. Check if the ad is from the verified page of the brand
As you can see from the screenshots, scammers create fake Facebook pages which use the brand’s logo and words like ‘clearance sale’ in the page name to trick users. Before clicking on the ad, check whether the ad is being run by the official page of the brand. The most obvious sign is the ‘blue tick’ which shows that the page is verified. Other signs are the number of likes on the page and if the page is active.
2. Check the website name
Much like the Facebook page, you should also confirm that you are shopping on the official website of the brand. Scammers purchase lookalike names which can be mistaken for the real thing.
For example, the official website of Roots is roots.com. The knock-off websites have names like rootscanada.shop, rootsdiscount.shop, rootshotonline.shop and rootsmall.pw. Notice how there are extra words in the website name and they use a ‘.shop’ extension instead of ‘.com’. You can Google the brand’s name to see which is their official website.
3. Pay attention to the website layout and content
Fake websites don’t have much effort put into them. If the website looks unfinished, unpolished or ‘broken’ in any way, it is very likely to be fake. Low-quality images, bad cropping, improper mobile optimization and empty pages are the norm for copycat websites.
The content on these websites tends to be poor too. The text will usually be replete with bad spelling and grammatical errors.
4. Check the contact details
One of the most important things to look out for while shopping online is the contact information. If the email address does not match the domain name of the website, it is a huge red flag that the site may be fake.
Just like how the websites in the CustomerServiceBest & Oxborder Scam Network have email IDs originating from @customerservicebest.com and @oxborder.com, fake websites often have email IDs of external domains. You can do a simple Google search of the ID and see if any reports or complaints pop up. The same goes for the phone number and address, if given.
5. Are the prices unbelievable?
Huge brands never give discounts on products and rarely hold sales. If you see ads claiming to sell products at more than 25% to 30% off, it is likely to be a scam. Always compare the discounted price with the current original price on the brand’s website or reputable sites like Amazon. This will also let you know whether there really is a sale or not.
6. Look for reviews
Google ‘[website name] review’ to see whether the website is recommended by others. You should tread carefully while shopping on websites with no reviews. Even if the website has its own reviews, always look at reviews on third-party websites like TrustPilot, Scamadviser, OnlineThreatAlerts and others.
Keep in mind that reviews should never be taken at face value. Reviews and ratings can even be bought nowadays, so use your best judgement about whether they look like they have been written by genuine customers.
Given below is a list of all the Facebook pages and websites which have been found to part of the network. Bear in mind that the list is not complete by any means. If a website is not on the list but seems suspicious as per the points above, it’s better to avoid shopping there.
List of Facebook Pages Impersonating Real Brands
- Roots Clearance
- Roots Clearance Sale
- Roots Discount Offer
- Roots Warehouse Promotion
- Roots Discount
- Roots Hot Clearance
- Roots Limit Discount
- Roots Shop Special
- Roots Canada
- Roots Direct Promo
- Roots Outlet Sale
- Roots Clearance
- Roots Online Promotion
- Roots Online Sale
- Roots Special Offer
- Roots Sale Online
- Roots Limit Discounts- FB removed webpage
- Roots Sotre (not spelling error)
- Roots Summer Clearance
- Roots Outlet CA – FB removed webpage
- Sale End Soon – changed to Roots Sale End Soon
- Seasonal Clearance
- Seasonal Clearance Sale
- Season Best Offer
- Seasonal Promotion
- Special Promotions- FB removed webpage
- Special Store
- Summer Crazy Sale
- Surprise Sale – FB removed webpage
- Time-Limited Clearance Roots
- Unmatched Price
List of Websites Using the Email ID email@example.com
List of Websites Using the Email ID firstname.lastname@example.org
List of Hijacked Websites
There are some hijacked websites too which are a part of the CustomerServiceBest & Oxborder Scam Network. I’m guessing this was done for the purpose of ranking their pages on Google or for running Google ads. When I searched for the email IDs associated with this scam on Google, the search results included the hijacked websites.
Remember: If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
If you have been the victim of an ecommerce scam, you can take the following steps:
- Lodge a complaint at the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal
- File a complaint with the payment portal and ask whether the payment can be reversed.
- File a complaint with the Consumer Complaints Forum
- Leave a negative review on review portals such as ScamAdvisor, TrustPilot, OnlineThreatAlerts and SiteJabber
- Report the website to Google using the Suspicious Site Reporter extension for Chrome
- Give a low rating to the website on Web of Trust. You can also install their extension for the same.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are presented as an educated opinion based on facts and evidence. There is no malicious intent or attempt to defame any individual/s or organization/s. If you are a website owner and would like to provide clarifications regarding your business and/or website, please get in touch on email@example.com