Shoppers Duped by Online Retailers Selling Fakes

Some websites are advertising luxury products but are selling counterfeit items instead. The Better Business Bureau says consumers should do their research before paying.

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Amber Bass says she was duped when shopping online for high-end coats.

After seeing images of lavish, high-end coats, she made an online purchase.

"Both of them were beautiful coats," Bass said.

When her shipment arrived days before a planned trip to New York, she says she got coats of a lesser quality instead.

"I called it a rat coat, because it looked like it came from a rat," Bass said.

"It was a $2,500 sheepskin coat, one of our best sellers, and they got something that looked like a $5 bathrobe," said Gabriel Openshaw, the Vice President of E-commerce with Overland Sheepskin.

The company sells the coats Bass thought she was buying online.

It turns out, the images Bass saw were fraudulently used.

Openshaw says they've discovered images of their products have been fraudulently used on hundreds of sites.

"What they are doing is they are grabbing the exact same images and they are making up a price for it, that has no bearing on anything," Openshaw said.

Openshaw showed us images of a coat priced at $2,495 on their site being advertised on another site for just $83.

Overland Sheepskin isn't the only company whose images are being ripped off.

We found a long-sleeved print coat being sold on the website

When we did a reverse-image search, the image matched images on a fashion magazine spread for a high-end designer.

We reached out to and the website Bass used to purchase her items.

We did not hear back about why they are using photos from other websites.  

Cinthya Lavin with the Better Business Bureau of South Florida says online shops selling counterfeit goods ramp up during the holiday season.

"They sell these luxury items for 70% of the discount, if you see a suspicious discount, it is probably a counterfeit good," Lavin said.

The BBB says you should do your research before paying for an item online.

They suggest you do an internet search on the website's URL, look for the typos and grammatical errors on the site, and check for a physical address.

"If the price seems too good to be true, then it probably is," Openshaw said.

If you have been victimized by an online retail scam you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission and the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.

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