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The business of fear in Corona times - how to protect yourself with trustees

April 28, 2020

The crisis and the opportunity of the scammers

While the Corona crisis is hitting many industries financially hard, fake shops and online fraudsters are experiencing a real boom. They take advantage of the danger of the virus and the fear of people connected with it. Many entrepreneurs react to the outgoing danger of infection from Corona by wanting to provide protective articles for their employees. Hygiene articles and above all respiratory masks are in greater demand than ever before in times of Corona. Before Covid-19, it was possible to buy face or breathing masks as well as disinfectants without hesitation via reputable Internet platforms. Now, however, the demand is far greater than the supply, resulting in long delivery times and bottlenecks. Many buyers therefore search the Internet for alternative suppliers. Fraudsters take advantage of this and recognize their chance for quick money. Often the goods are defective or are not even delivered after payment. The Federal Criminal Police Office also registers that "...on the Internet an increasing number of counterfeit medicines and medical products such as protective masks and hand disinfectants against Covid-19 as well as alleged tests for home use are offered".

When you have paid, it is already too late

As a buyer it is difficult to identify Fake-Shops and to evaluate the quality of the expected goods. The fraudsters usually have a serious-looking website and also appear authentic in their communication. However, the fraudsters want money without performance and so for most fraudsters the means of payment is the focus of the criminal activity. On fake shops you can usually find an overview of several payment methods, but at checkout you can only pay in advance. If the buyer pays for the goods in advance, it is a tough and often futile process to get his money back.

Trust is good, secure payment systems are better

The safest payment method is still cash payment upon receipt of the goods. However, this is not an option for import transactions. In these cases, you can protect yourself with a digital escrow service. Here the money is not transferred directly from the buyer to the seller, but parked in an escrow account. The money remains there until the buyer has received and checked the goods ordered. he step-by-step procedure of an escrow service obliges to fairness, because the buyer shows that he is liquid and the seller has to fulfil the promised performance to receive his money. This process prevents one party from ending up without money or goods. Otherwise, offers and sellers must be evaluated according to common sense. Stiftung Warentest therefore recommends checking the seller for ratings, imprint, seal of approval and real prices.

We have created a guide, with which you can more easily recognize fake shops.