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Online shopping is a real alternative for people with little time. Stupid only if the ordered goods never arrive and the advance payment is gone. Because there are quite a few so-called fake shops on the InternetHow do you recognize the black sheep on the web and what can you do if you have already been taken in by them?


No waiting in long queues, shop conveniently after the store closes – and then pay even less. It’s no wonder that more and more people are reaching for the mouse instead of the shopping bag. Online shopping is a real alternative, especially for people who don’t have much time, not to mention the crisis and the closed retail trade.

But behind so many bargains there is nothing more than fraud – and the supposed shop is nothing more than a fake. The goods are ordered, paid for – and never arrive. How can consumers protect themselves and what can you do if you have already been taken in by such a fake shop? Is there a chance to get back money already paid?


Don’t click on ads

Google ranks Internet addresses that are accessed frequently particularly highly. If you pay for them, they will be right at the top – recognizable by the tiny “Advertisement” printed above the shop name. A reputable provider CAN hide behind this but does not have to. It’s better to go through the “normal” search results below.


address Become skeptical if an actually known address shows inconsistencies, eg a domain suddenly ends in “.com”! Of course, you have to know the correct address of the shop you are looking for. Even if the address does not match the content of the page called up, you should be skeptical.

Payment in advance

Customers are often offered several payment methods up to the last step of the order, but ultimately only prepayment is possible. Don’t get involved! First the goods, then the money.

Unrivaled low prices

Not every cheap shop is a fake shop – and not every fake shop is necessarily particularly cheap. But if there is a noticeable number of cheap offers, you should at least take a closer look – because quite a few rip-offs work with this lure method.

False seals of approval

Fake shops like to pretend to be serious, for example with invented seals of approval. Or they use real seals of approval, such as “Trusted Shops”, without actually owning these certificates. By clicking on the seal, you can check whether the seal is actually linked to a certificate from the seal operator. If the link is missing, it is a fake.

Customer ratings

When shopping online, it generally makes sense as a customer not to rely solely on the ratings within a shop. If the hymns of praise are piling up, you should become suspicious and do some research.

General Terms and Conditions (GTC)

Fake shops can depict terms and conditions that are fictitious or copied from other sites. A clear indication of fake terms and conditions is when they are formulated in bad German. If this is the case or if the general terms and conditions are missing altogether, you should rather not order anything.

Invented or stolen: data in the imprint

Even in fake shops, you will often find a supposedly complete imprint that is supposed to inspire trust. But be careful: the data can be fictitious or stolen! Check the information by googling the UID number or the company name, for example.


  • Anyone who has already transferred money should immediately ask their bank to reverse the payment made. This is usually still possible a few hours after placing an order. With other payment methods such as direct debit, the payment can be reversed up to eight weeks after collection. But you have to contact your bank for that too.
  • All receipts for the online order should be collected and secured. This includes the purchase contract, order confirmation, emails, and a screenshot of the offer.
  • Legally, such an approach is fraud. Those affected can have the printed documents checked by the nearest consumer advice center and file a criminal complaint with the police. This is also possible online.
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About the Author

Dylan Roberge

Dylan Roberge is a San Francisco-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience covering money saving and deal hunting. Before going freelance, he got his start as an editor at Yahoo Finance. These days he writes about mobile, tech gadgets, and lifestyle subjects for a variety of publications.