Recent events around the Wilko retail chain are sad for its customers, but may also expose folks to financial dangers. Scammers use the news about shops and stock liquidation due to financial issues as a basis for a huge amount of shopping scams. Let’s find out how they work, what are their dangers, and how to avoid such fraudulent sites in the future.
Wilko Shopping Scams Emerge As Business Struggles
Hard times happen in every business, and retailers appear to be the most susceptible to problems over the last few years. Supply chain issues, lockdowns with sharp decrease in consumer demand, inflation surge – all this poison any retail chains. And those that had previous issues experienced compounded effects. Earlier, US-based Bed, Bath & Beyond chain went bankrupt due to the impossibility to go profitable and get any funding. Wilko was expected to be the next, because of unsolved financial struggles since early 2022. In early August 2023, the company announced massive layoffs and store close-outs, needed to ease reaching profitability. Excess goods stored in warehouses are also going to be sold.
But what is woe for company employees and management is a way to earn money for rascals. Fraudsters chose the topic of warehouse stock clearance to bait users into ordering stuff at their sites. These websites look similarly to a real Wilko page, and sometimes even have the legitimately-looking URL. Nonetheless, all this is a complete fake – hackers simply take your money and vanish. In rare cases, they can actually send you a package, but you won’t find anything even remotely resembling your order. Boulders, cheap trinkets worth a nickel, empty bottles – that’s it.
Who is in danger?
Wilko is the UK-exclusive retail chain, so that’s not much of a chance for someone to be interested in buying their stuff abroad. For that reason, the main audience of all these scams is in Britain. And be sure, stuff like household goods, homeware, kitchenware, cleaning products, garden supplies and the like at a huge discount is a desired thing for a number of people.
Key places where crooks promote such scam sites are advertisements in social media. Upon launching campaigns in Facebook, they opt specifically for users who are interested in goods they offer – just like proper ad campaigns do. This makes it quite hard to weed out for target users. Fortunately, there are several notable elements present on each of such sites that clearly say that it is a scam.
Ways to Tell Wilko Shopping Site Is a Rip-Off
- Website information. It does not appear on the exact page, but using free domain lookup services you can easily find some facts about it. Among other things, check out for the registration date. Scam sites commonly exist for a couple of weeks, rarely longer. Then either a hosting or the fraudsters shut them down. The latter happens when they’ve scammed enough people and it’s time to go. If the site started days ago, and there’s no info about its owners, while it is pretending to be a representative of the Wilko chain – beware.
- Domain name. If you’d have a business, would you pick a domain name close to its name, or an unpronounceable thing like afaobmy.com? That’s a rhetorical question. Aside from using mismatching names, such pages commonly use the cheapest top-level domains possible. Things on .site, .online, .shop or .store domains cost pennies, but are not likely to be picked for legitimate businesses.
- Contact information. Normally, you will find several contact emails, phones or even a link to a support service that is ready to answer questions and resolve issues. These pages, however, have only one email address mentioned as a contact, and it is not a responsive one. Some variants of Wilko sell-off scams do not even bother creating a legitimate look and do not offer any at all.
- User feedback. Genuine sites, even if they are not running for a long time, have feedback right on page or on specialised resources that collect feedback about such places. You won’t find any reviews on the exact site, and places from the outside will likely be full of people curious about their undelivered goods.
- Offers. Well, sell-off of warehouse stock supposes lower prices – you can often see 30-40% discount on these events. But 80-90% offs, even though they may sound miraculous, are not true. There is also a repeating header seen on numerous similar scam websites that offer free delivery if your order exceeds a certain sum – £50-70. The sum is relatively small, though due to the discounts, it can take numerous items to meet the number. This creates a psychological trick, when the victim is eager to order and pay for all things more quickly and get the ordered stuff, forgetting about any concerning indicators.
List of sites noticed in Wilko clearance shopping scam campaign:
Seeing any of these red flags is a reason to think of stopping any further deals with this site. Unfortunately, if you have already paid for something, it is likely that your money is lost. Still, there are steps to take if you fell victim to a scam.
What can I do as a victim of the Wilko Stock Liquidation Scam?
Bad things can happen to anyone, scams are just another possible scenario. And not the worst situation, to be honest – there are a lot of things you can do once you uncover it. They are mostly related to making your friends and authorities aware of the scam, and trying to get your money back.
First of all, contact your bank. Despite being mentioned the last, it is the first step to do, as banking operations are time-sensitive. Gather as much payment information as possible from the transaction with the scammers. Then, reach out to your bank – by phone, email/online support, or even come an actual branch. Ask them for a refund for the transaction to the scammers. This may require the info I’ve just mentioned, and some time to complete. Nonetheless, there is a high probability of success if you do this in less than a week after the fraudulent transaction.
Notify the authorities. Online hopping scams are as outlaw as any real-life scam. Notifying the corresponding authorities will at least speed up the website shutdown by the hosting. It also gives additional clues that may help to find and punish the scammers. This may need more time than any of us would desire, but will still happen at the end.
Tell your friends, colleagues and relatives about the scam. The more people are aware of the fraudulent site, the less likely scammers are to find new victims that easily. If your friends tell the same story to their friends, the effects increase even further. By raising awareness, you will probably save someone a hundred pounds or even more.