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Scam warning: fake Clarks Shoes websites

We’ve been made aware of fake adverts for Clarks Shoes circulating on Facebook. Here’s what you need to keep an eye out for to avoid being scammed.

Update: 15/06/2020

Despite our warnings, these fake Clarks adverts keep popping up on Facebook.

We continue to report them and, fortunately, we’ve been able to get Facebook to block another scam site from its platform. A spokesperson told us:

“Fraudulent activity is not tolerated on our platforms and we have blocked this website. We urge people to continue to report any suspicious posts or ads to us.

To help with this, we have created a dedicated Facebook scam ads reporting tool in the UK so people can directly report scams as soon as they see them. We have also donated £3 million to Citizens’ Advice to help consumers avoid scams”

We’ll continue to monitor fake adverts appearing on Facebook, and report them as soon as we spot them.

Fake Clarks adverts: 04/03/2020

Thanks to a previous Which? Conversation regarding fake adverts for luxury shoe shop Russell & Bromley, we’ve been made aware of similar Facebook adverts for Clarks Shoes that have unfortunately found a number of victims.

Concerned by the reports we were seeing here on Which? Conversation, we put the word out on Facebook itself to gather further evidence:

Help wanted: we've been made aware of fake adverts for Clarks Shoes appearing on Facebook. Have you seen this scam? Do you have a screenshot? If so, get in touch in the comments.

Posted by Which? on Wednesday, February 12, 2020

 

In the comments we found others familiar with Anthea’s experience – they’d bizarrely received a fake scarf instead:

We made Clarks aware of these dodgy adverts and websites. A Clarks spokesperson said:

At Clarks, we take the reliability of our online presence and the safeguarding of our customers extremely seriously. We were made aware of several fake sites by our brand protection partner Safenames at the end of January and acted immediately to get them taken down.

Any customers with concerns relating to any of these sites should get in touch with our customer care team for support.

When choosing to shop online, we recommend always checking for the official domain authority before completing your purchase, which is clarks.co.uk for all our UK-based customers”

We’re pleased that Clarks has taken action to get these sites removed.

Facebook has previously told us that it takes action to stop fraud ‘wherever it appears’ and is investing in new tools for reporting scam ads.

Last year, we called on it to do more as fradulent ads continued to appear.

Social media advertising

The scammers know that people will have grown accustomed to seeing genuine adverts on social media platforms – they look to exploit that credibility by posing as well-known brands and celebrities that may have already gained your trust.

If you see an account you don’t recognise advertising a brand you do – treat it with suspicion.

Research is essential before you make a purchase; check the URL of the page it’s taking you to, Google the names of stores or offers you don’t recognise and, if you’re still not sure, reach out to a brand directly via its official channels to verify any adverts or offers you’ve seen.

If you’re worried you’ve been scammed by adverts like this, let your bank know what’s happened immediately and read our guide to getting your money back.

Have you seen suspicious adverts for brands such as Clarks? If so, let us know who’s being impersonated in the comments so we can help warn others.

Comments
Donald says:
27 March 2022

Scammed last week for two pairs of shoes on Instagram. Site looked exactly like clarks

Anurag says:
1 April 2022

Better half just got scammed by a Facebook advert for Clarks shoes.
Beware of below Link or any similar one.
https://www.clakrflagship.shop/Clarks-Delana-Varro-p12109458.html
Hope she gets money back.

[Moderator: this website appears to be a scam website. We’ve retained the URL to help you identify it, but we’ve redirected the link to our guidance on how to spot fraudulent website. ]

John O'Meara says:
2 April 2022

Clark Shoes adverts still up on Facebook

Needs stopping

Anne white says:
5 April 2022

I have just been scammed by the site Clarks Service, or http://www.clarkspecify.shop I should have known better, the offers were too good to be true. Hopefully get refunded by my bank, but why why why does this still happen on massive sites like facebook who should be vetting these scammers. I will never buy off a site advertising on facebook again.

[Moderator: this website this could be a scam website. We’ve retained the URL to help you identify it, but we’ve redirected the link to our guidance on how to spot fraudulent website. ]

Mrs I Fahy says:
5 April 2022

I’ve been duped too. It did really look like Clarks’ advert – said it was because the factory was closing down. I spent about £20, but of course they have my card details. My bank did contact me to say that some suspicious activity appeared on my account, a rather revealing dress purchased in Malaysia or somewhere like that £30. Needless to say my bank declined the payment

If you purchased the shoes from a fake website selling counterfeit goods, I would encourage you to report the site to The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC)

https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/collection/phishing-scams/report-scam-website

It’s quick to a report a site and the NCSC will investigate and remove scam websites. Consumers are encouraged to report suspicious sites, even if they are not certain it is a scam. The NCSC will check the site and take the necessary action.

the offers were too good to be true. Hopefully get refunded by my bank,…..
I wonder why the bank should refund (unless they can get money returned from the vendor) when the offer was too good to be true? Taking a chance involves risk, and responsibility for that risk.

Vicky says:
5 April 2022

I paid £17 today to ‘Clarks.’ Facebook should be made accountable for transmitting this fraudulent stuff. The receipt was from an outlandish organisation in the US, ?false, which alerted me, and I had my card stopped immediately by my bank.

I attempted to contact Clarks yesterday, by telephone, intending to provide them with the URL of a fake website, just in case they were not aware of it.

Clarks do not publish a telephone number on their website which I find extremely disappointing. A quick google search revealed a valid telephone number which I called, but this was answered with a pre-recorded message advising that Clarks DO NOT accept incoming calls and instead customers should contact them using the contact forms on their website!

What is wrong with these large retailers and why do they feel the need to prevent customers from engaging with them directly. In terms of a business model I find it totally unsatisfactory. From a customers perception it simply gives the impression that Clarks DO NOT want to ‘speak’ with their customers. From a customer service perspective, this policy of not allowing customers to call them directly is just awful. Many of us prefer to pick up the phone and speak with someone and if we cannot, perhaps we will choose to make our purchases with a retailer who is happy to speak with customers. I firmly believe that retailers who restrict contact methods are likely to frustrate and alienate customers, which in turn could impact their business growth.

Come on Clarks, you can do better.

Although I was unable to speak with anyone at Clarks, I did use an online contact form to advise them of the fake website. It remains to be seen whether they will acknowledge the correspondence.

UPDATE:
Just received the following acknowledgement/reply from Clarks:

Thank you for getting in touch with Clarks.

We are currently experiencing a high volume of contacts. We apologise for any delays that you experience when trying to get in touch.

We aim to get back to you within 7 working days.

WOW – not what I expect from an established retailer such as Clarks!!!

The phrase “currently experiencing a high volume…..” of calls, contacts, emails has been used for a number of years. I have been on hold for 40 minutes trying to speak to a DWP department, 30 minutes to my doctor’s surgery, and when my son dialled 999 to get an ambulance and the phone rang for 9 minutes before it was answered.

Any organisation genuinely wanting to help it’s customers and clients would have addressed this “current” problem a long time ago. The excuse has worn so thin it is transparent. Perhaps Which? could instigate a campaign; it would save many a lot of time spent hanging on the phone when they would be doing something more productive.

Completely agree malcom r. Covid has been used as reason by many companies for long wait times or difficulty getting in touch, but that is wearing a bit thin now.

When many customer service staff were working from home, the overall level of service from a variety of retailers fell to an unacceptable standard. Many companies have made the decision to close offices and allow staff to continue working from home, but this is to the detriment of consumers.

Customer Service should remain at the forefront for any business and yet it seems retailers are happy to take our orders, but provide appalling customer service thereafter.

In my view, the senior staff who are making decisions about how they serve customers need a good shake.

Hi George, no it’s not the site in Anne’s post, but a different site, http://www. clakrflagship. shop

When researching the site earlier today, the site was not visible, but shortly thereafter the site remains live.

I have reported the site to The National Cyber Security Centre and have also contacted Clarks directly to make them aware of it.

Thanks George, that’s good to know. If Which? could also contact Clarks directly to make them aware of the site, that would be beneficial.

If Clarks receive multiple emails about the same fake website, it might encourage them to act swiftly.

George, its worth noting that when searching for the site using a search engine, the site is not always visible, which may lead some to think the site has been pulled down.

However, having bookmarked the site, I can visit it directly, so can confirm the site remains live. If an Ad with a redirect appears on social media sites, as it stands, consumers will continue to be redirected to the site.

Thanks George. Policing these sites remains an ongoing challenge and although changes in Legislation will go some way to tackling the problem, greater consumer awareness and encouraging consumers to be suspicious of Ads and extra vigilant when redirected to sites should also help.

George, I am astonished this fake site remains live.

My understanding was the organisation hosting the site have a legal duty to take fake sites down the moment they are advised and especially in circumstances of copycat sites, counterfeit goods and Trademark or brand infringement.

Assuming Clarks have advised the hosting company this is a fake site, I would have expected the site to have been pulled down by now.

Is there anything further that can be done to have this site pulled down?

George, no need to apologise and sorry to hear you have been unwell with Covid.

I hope you are over the worst and feeling better.

It sounds like you have experienced quite severe symptoms, which I imagine were rather unpleasant – sorry to hear that. I hope you have a speedy recovery.

Thanks ever so much for following up with the fake site. Look forward to your response.

Hi George, from what I can establish, the site is no longer visible. Whether it has been pulled down by the hosts or blocked by the search engines is unknown, but most importantly consumers can no longer be redirected.

Thanks for your help.

Debra says:
19 May 2022

Maybe to reduce costs after covid to keep the company afloat? People in stores are always happy to take calls and help as best they can.

Having contacted Clarks to advise them of the numerous fake Ad’s and websites in circulation, I received the following reply:

“Thank you for taking the time to contact us.
I can confirm that the website you have provided is unfortunately not an official Clarks website.
In the UK the only official Clarks websites are http://www.clarks.co.uk and http://www.clarksoutlet.co.uk. The official Clarks website for EU residents is http://www.clarks.eu/en/.
I have raised this information with our Domain Team, they will investigate this further with the intention to have the site removed.
Thank you for bringing this site to our attention.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact us. On behalf of Clarks, please accept my apologies for any inconvenience caused”.

I have also suggested to Clarks that perhaps they should email all existing customers advising them to be aware of fake sites and suggested that perhaps an announcement via social media would be beneficial.

This is great, thank you for the update on this @wingman

You’re welcome.

Maria McMahon says:
27 April 2022

Hi can someone help me? I think I may have been scammed by a site pm Facebook clarkshotstyle.com….. unfortunately I’ve spent a lot of money and nothing has arrived. When I tried to connect to the site it says its not available. Please what can I do?

Maria McMahon says:
27 April 2022

PLEASE HELP
I think I’ve been scammed on Facebook by a site clarkshotstyle.com. Unfortunately I placed an order for quite a lot and have received nothing. I tried to access the website page but its saying not recognised. What can I do???
Hs anyone else fell for this?

Hi Maria, sorry to hear you made a purchase on what seems to be a further fake Clarks website.

Assuming you paid by Credit/Debit card, you should contact your Bank or Card provider immediately. Explain what has happened and I am sure your Bank will be happy to assist with recovering your money. If you did pay by Card, you should also ask your Bank whether they recommend your Card should be cancelled and a new Card issued to avoid the risk of any additional unauthorised transactions.

If you paid by Bank Transfer it may be more difficult for your Bank to recover the money, but contact your Bank immediately and advise them of the situation.

Cherrie Sweet says:
21 May 2022

I have just been scammed by this Clarkshop it says Clarkshop UK but it is China is there any think I can do getting money back

Cherrie — You could contact your bank or credit card company and ask if they can reverse the payment but if the transfer has completed it is unlikely that anything can be done because a Chinese company is not bound by UK legislation. There is no protection for the use of a credit card under £100 and these ‘sellers’ make sure the price is lower than that.

Here is advice from Which? https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/how-do-i-use-chargeback-abZ2d4z3nT8q

Even if you are unsuccessful, the bank may provide very useful advice.

I think I have just been scammed by Clarks outlet? I thought the shoes were very cheap? I must inform the bank today.

Anyone wanting to buy a pair of Clarks shoes on-line should visit no other site than the official Clarks Shoes website. The price will be the same as it is in their high street and retail park outlets. No one has yet identified a reliable source of cheap Clarks shoes.

I believe that proper control of domain registration could do a lot to prevent scammers setting up lookalike websites with similar web addresses and profiting from unwary customers.

To set up a website you need to lease a domain name for a year or longer. Here is an example of how to do it making use of 123.reg, a major British domain registrar, now owned by GoDaddy, a huge US company: https://www.123-reg.co.uk/domain-search/?domain=clarks.co.uk

This shows that clarks.co.uk and clarks.com are not available (both are used by Clarks) but there are some similar alternatives. clarksgroup.co.uk is advertised at 79p for the first year. Alternatively you could have clark-s.co.uk and clark-s.com

Scammers make use of photos, logos and other information taken from genuine websites to build their own.

Registrars seem to act promptly when illegal activity is reported but by then, many people may have been scammed.

I have found that web browsers/search engines are diligent in controlling the use of “official site” terminology associated with company names. It is best to go straight to the company’s official website if you want Clarks shoes, but, of course, that is probably not what people actually want; what they really want is shoes at a price that is too good to be true. And clicking on a link in social media is probably the simplest way of finding an advertisement for such goods; it could take forever browsing through search engine results for the particular website seen on social media if it even exists. It is a fact of life that almost nothing can be done to prevent fake websites and rogue offers from appearing unless the social media hosts are forced by law to strictly control and investigate every single item that is posted on their platforms, and I guess that isn’t going to happen. So, as ever, buyer beware, and look before you leap.

There is no doubt that some people are tricked. For example, some pay additional costs to renew a passport or driving licence.

I don’t doubt that many people are lured by seemingly large price reductions, but as I have suggested above, there is something that can be done by domain registrars to reduce fraud. Maybe a tradesman named S. Clark could usefully have a website clark-s.co.uk but allowing this to be used by someone selling shoes is asking for trouble. Responsible companies often lease similar domains to protect their customers, and the cost of doing this is very small.

I agree. Domain name control is the strategic way for website owners to prevent misrepresentation. The consumer can only fall back on the tactical process of checking a website thoroughly to ensure it is authentic.

Unfortunately, setting up spoof domain names in an attempt to mimic reputable traders and then selling them on to crooks became quite a substantial industry when on-line selling took off. As a side-line, many major traders were held to ransom by the spoofers to buy back or extinguish the pretend domain names.

Wherever there is an opportunity, a criminal will be found close by. It is a shame that people continue to get tricked and deceived by fake websites but at the low prices involved the lesson for the future is perhaps not too hard to bear once the initial pain of being ripped off has subsided.

wavechange says: Today 09:26

Responsible companies often lease similar domains to protect their customers, and the cost of doing this is very small.

Which? has done the same, buying up almost all the domains with ‘which’ in the title.

Thanks Ian. I was not aware that Which? has done this.

John wrote: “…many major traders were held to ransom by the spoofers to buy back or extinguish the pretend domain names.”

If these domains are being used for illegal purposes I hope they are closed down promptly. Most of those that are reported on this page have already gone.

I would like to see domain registrars asking about the proposed use when a domain is leased so that, for example, ones similar to clarks.co.uk and clarks.com are not used by a trader to sell shoes.

If my name is Clark or Clarke, I own a shoe shop and supply online, why should I be prevented from using an appropriate domain? There are so many possible variations and combinations that I see it as neither practical nor fair, no more than having bank accounts with similar names for good reasons.

While dealing with domains may be expedient, I suggest that addressing the fraud directly is the way we need to develop. It seems social media should be one target, with the aim to have them remove fake links as soon as they are verified. Even then I expect the scammer will post another slightly different name. Gradually people may be persuaded to become less tolerant of such posts, source the websites they need directly, but fraud is, I believe, like all crime a problem that can only be mitigated to some extent but not solved.

malcolm r says: Today 10:29

If my name is Clark or Clarke, I own a shoe shop and supply online, why should I be prevented from using an appropriate domain?

That’s an interesting question and to answer it I suspect we have to substitute why should I be prevented with “What would I have to gain?

Using an identical name (albeit with a different domain label) can lead to confusion on the part of users, and is unlikely to be viewed as legitimate by the first company to register the name. It can also lead to some unintentional humour, such as when Who Represents, a database of artists and agents, chose whorepresents.com, or when Experts Exchange, a programmers’ discussion site, used expertsexchange.com, both of which can be avoided by the use of hyphens.

However, it’s hard to see why any legitimate business would want to risk confusion and possibly lost revenue by naming themselves almost identically to a well-known company. It’s far more likely they would be seeking to gain from the cachet enjoyed by the original owner.

Overall, however, I tend to agree that fraud has always been with us and always will. Education seems the only truly effective solution.

Malcolm – As I have said there would be no problem with a tradesman registering a domain similar to the domains used by Clark’s but if someone wanted to sell shoes online, that case should be judged on its merits. I have looked up some of the domain names used by scammers and some have been registered recently, suggesting that they have been registered with the intention of carrying out scams.

If we simply wait until a domain is misused rather than trying to foresee what could happen it’s similar to leaving our house or car unlocked and waiting until someone takes advantage of this before taking action.

I was involved in setting up a new website recently, so that people can now buy membership of a society and purchase merchandise online. There were no questions about what commercial activity we had planned.

Websites track everything we do, and I frequently get told I am leaving a website and asked if I want to continue to leave.

Therefore, it should be relatively easy for the likes of Facebook to intercept clicks to external websites do a check on them and present the user with a scam report and a warning of caution.

Yes, there is a great deal that could be done to protect people online and adapting existing technology to provide a warning should be easy.

In the same way that domain registrars could be more careful about leasing domains, Facebook should have more responsibility for checking that it is not hosting scam advertising.