Criminals create bogus Links of London, Thomas Sabo and Pandora sites.
Leading jewellery brands in the UK are having their names and branding hijacked by online scammers registered in China.
Links of London, Thomas Sabo and Pandora are all targets for an organisation named on domain name registrar Network Solutions as Gongpengfei in Shenzhen, a major city in the south of Southern China’s Guangdong Province. Domain names do not have to be registered in the same physical location as the person or business that owns them.
Bogus web sites have been created that have domain names similar to the multi-national brands, and carrying the logos and other design characteristics of Pandora, Links of London and Thomas Sabo.
Fashion brands including Abercrombie and Fitch and Christian Louboutin have also been hit.
The fake sites appear to have sophisticated search engine optimisation that ranks them high on the first pages of Google searches.
Bogus site thomasabosuk.com appeared only one place below the legitimate Thomas Sabo site when Professional Jeweller searched on April 19. Links-of-londons.uk.com appeared on the first page of a Google search and Pandorauks.uk.com appeared on the second page.
Thomas Sabo has not yet responded to questions from Professional Jeweller about the issue, but Links of London confirmed that the web sites are fake and that they are looking into the matter as a matter of urgency.
Pandora UK CEO, Peter Andersen, confirmed that the company is actively working on tackling the issue and has retained the professional services of TM-Eye. The trademark protection business has a stated mission to “fight against the manufacture and illegal import, export and sale of counterfeit and pirated goods in Europe.”
The public should be aware that the web sites are likely to be run by criminal gangs and should not provide any personal information, particularly not credit card details.