You want to buy an iPad for Christmas. The problem: scammers know it too and are waiting in prey for you this holiday season. Here are some tips on how to safely shop for tablets online without falling victim to hoax high-tech Santas.
Fake iPads often originate in China — that’s the word from MarkMonitor, a firm warning consumers of something called “brandjacking.” This scam essentially relies on harried consumers who spot a photo of an iPad, but miss that the online ad fails to mention “Apple” or even the product name.
“As we head into the holiday shopping season, consumers should beware these ‘brand impersonators’ who are hidden in plain sight while brands need to be extra vigilant in foiling those who seek to profit at their expense,” says company CMO Frederick Felman. Such scammers track hot trends — such as everyone and their mother wanting an iPad — and pounce.
But you would never fall for such tricks, right? According to MarkMonitor, there is a minefield of fakes online that can be difficult to avoid. In July, the company found 23,000 iPad clones, counterfeits or illegally-imported gray market tablets. More than 8,000 sellers were hawking iPad clones from 15 manufacturers. The group also found 6,600 counterfeit sites visited more than 75 million times each year.
That was one day in July. You can guess how many fake sites will be selling faux iPads now.
Another tip is to stay with known sites, such as Apple.com or Amazon.com. Of course, this requires you to plan ahead and not wait until the last moment – which is what the scammers count on. Phishers hope you’ll be too busy entering your bank’s url to notice the typo sending you to a fake site. Scammers also count on you being too busy looking for an iPad to never notice the Apple brand never appears in the online ad.
It is ironic most of these fake iPads originate from China, because the country is also Apple’s second-largest market. So, while it is making money assembling iPads in China, Apple is losing money to that nation’s counterfeiters selling fake iPads. While fake iPads for Apple may just be a cost of doing business in China, it could ruin your holiday – so beware, and make sure you’re only buying the real thing!