Every day, con artists create about 18,000 fake websites, posing as legitimate companies. These websites are typically designed to deceive users into entering their personal information and/or financial information and downloading dangerous files that could endanger their computer system. Millions of dollars in repairs, theft, IT fees, and lost sales are a result of these websites, which also cost people and businesses a lot of money. A phony website can also drastically harm the reputation of your company.
Scammers on the internet, especially those who advertise bogus websites, may have a variety of sinister objectives. They could be:
- Requiring payment before transferring the phony domain name to you;
- Stealing your consumers' business and providing them with false goods;
- Phishing for personal information such as passwords, account numbers, social security numbers, or medical records for their nefarious use or sale elsewhere, such as on the "dark web";
- Committing financial crimes—stealing money from you and your clients.
Identifying Fake Websites
The most popular method used by criminals to imitate a brand's website is a practice known as "domain name squatting." To do this, a domain based on an existing brand name must be registered. Once they're set up, scammers may use their new domain to mimic your branding (graphics, copy, etc.), sell bogus goods, or phish for personal information from unwary visitors. This is frequently done quickly and inexpensively.
Before using a website, take into account the following:
- Make sure you're on the official website by checking the domain name and conducting a search.
- Avoid making any payments through a bank transfer.
- If an offer seems too good to be true, such as steep reductions on expensive things, it probably is.
An internet con artist need only start by making a phony domain to start making money illegally off your brand. They may even directly imitate your website by misappropriating your company name, logo, and online materials.
This makes it simple to track your clients into thinking the site is yours when coupled with a domain that is almost exact duplicates of your own. Then, these fraudulent websites might defraud your potential clients of their money and personal information. Your company is seriously at risk from cybersquatting, and the danger is only getting worse. According to a Statista report, a record-breaking number of domain name complaints disputing fraudulent websites were filed in 2020.
How to take a fake website down
Send the domain registrant a letter of ceasing
The first step in resolving a dispute should always be to issue a cease and desist letter. Send one to the site administrator or domain registrant and ask them to discontinue the illegal conduct (using a domain search tool like ICANN or DomainTools). Continue to the following step if you don't receive a response or the response you're looking for.
Send a cease-and-desist letter to the CMS platform
Send a cease-and-desist letter to the website's CMS platform. This could be a lesser-known platform or ones like WordPress, Shopify, Wix, or Webflow. A bogus website can also be reported to the domain registrar (such as GoDaddy or NameCheap). If the registrar is not the host, they might be able to assist you in finding the host.
Demonstrate to the website host
Only if you can show that a website is fraudulent when you report it will web servers take it down. Send screenshots of anything that doesn't appear right, including misspellings, dubious links, bogus addresses, domain name variations compared to the correct domain name, etc. Web hosts will cooperate with you to remove the site if it is phony because they don't want unlawful websites on their network.
Continue gathering evidence if a web host initially declines to remove a website due to a lack of evidence. If feasible, try chatting with the fraudster online and take screenshots to expose them.
Make contact with Google
The next step in taking down a website is to submit it to Google if you're still having trouble. You can report content using a tool provided by Google, and if they determine it to be incorrect or unlawful, they will look into it and remove it.
The hardest aspect of taking down a bogus website is realising the con artist might launch another one the next day with a different domain name. Protecting your brand online requires ongoing vigilance, whether it's from phoney websites or social media impersonators. The Acviss staff monitors websites and accounts for damage around-the-clock, 365 days a year.