Costco members have been victimized a lot lately. Recently there was a cashier who was caught stealing credit card numbers and using the members’ personal information to go on shopping sprees, running up hundreds of dollars. And now, if you accidentally type in one wrong character while trying to do some online shopping, you run the risk of being scammed once again. When Costco member, Allen Stern, mistakenly added an extra ‘O’ while typing Costco into the web address line, he was taken to a site that looked identical to Costco’s real site and it even included the company logo.
Feeling confident that he had found his way to Costco’s real site, he didn’t hesitate when a survey popped up on the screen and he took it right away. He then learned the hard way that he shouldn’t have taken those extra steps. The survey promised a free bottle of face cream if he paid the cost of shipping. Well, in order to pay the cost of shipping, he was required to include his credit card information.
As soon as he saw additional charges on his credit card, he contacted Costco, but they couldn’t help him, as he was ripped off by a fake website.
Evidently, there is a name for this type of criminal activity. It is called “typosquatting,” which means that criminals will buy website domain names that are very similar to the popular sites, and then they will attempt to steal your money when you log on.
When you think about this, it’s a pretty clever idea, considering it is very easy to accidentally punch in a wrong key. And once you are brought to a site that appears to be the real deal, you forget about the fact that you punched in the wrong key.
The site that Mr. Stern was taken to was actually Costoco.com, and after Clark.com conducted an investigation, they learned that it had ties to Russia and was registered to a man living in Moscow, named Vladimir Snezco.
If you are ever interested in finding out who registered a website, there is a free tool that can be used. It is called “Whois Lookup tool.”
Apparently, this isn’t the first time this has happened and criminals have registered names falsely with other companies including Southwest, Netflix, Google, Verizon and several others. The chance of a criminal getting a customer to punch in the wrong name accidentally is pretty high considering these sites are used so often and amongst the most popular.
While the “Costoco” site has been taken down since Mr. Stern’s incident, it’s best to be cautious about false sites going forward. Always be aware when punching in the site’s name and be sure not to take any surveys that appear to be out of place. It’s as simple as double-checking your spelling.
The video below shares more information about how to be cautious when it comes to shopping online.
One commenter shared his/her feelings about only shopping online…
“That’s why I prefer to go to the STORE and buy my stuff.”