Gary Stevens November 30th, 2018

8 Ways To QUICKLY Spot a Fake Website

The Internet has made life and shopping convenient. A little... too convenient, perhaps. Yet at the same time, it has given modern-day con artists a versatile tool for ripping off the unsuspecting and unwary. Today’s internet scammers, just like the charlatans and snake oil salesmen of yesteryear, are after one thing: your money. New research from Bromium reveals that cyber crime in 2018 is projected to yield criminals more than $1.5 trillion. During the holiday season, the number of fraudulent websites will increase. Cyber criminals are unscrupulous, but they’re also creative. They excel at making fraudulent websites look like the real thing. If you plan to shop online (who doesn’t?), pay close attention to the following and you can start detecting a fake website in about five seconds.

1. Poor Grammar and Spelling

Major retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot, and Best Buy spend millions of dollars annually on marketing. This includes spending money on experienced copywriters. Spelling, punctuation, and grammar are checked and rechecked by editors before it goes live. Typically, cyber criminals do not have the time, resources, or mastery of the English language to avoid these errors. If a website has odd phrasing, questionable punctuation, or incorrect spelling throughout its copy, alarm bells should be going off in your head. Chances are that the site is fraudulent.

2. If the Deal Is Too Good to Be True…

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are some of the best days to get deep discounts on the products you have wanted all year. Retailers offload goods from the current year to make way for the next year’s models. But they are still in the business of making money. If you visit a site and see the latest iPad Pro on sale at a 95% discount, know that you have a 99% chance of never seeing the thing after you pay for it..

3. Look at the Website's Connection Type

A website with the “HTTPS” tag is more secure and trustworthy. A site that has the “HTTP” tag is not. It’s that simple. With the former, a site has gone through security certification that the majority of illegitimate sites ignore. There are a few things to keep in mind:
  • Sites with “HTTPS” connections can still be unreliable. Use the connection type in conjunction with other forms of verification to determine if the site is trustworthy or not.
  • Verify that the payment page is a “HTTPS” page.
  • Click the padlock on the upper left corner of the URL to verify the details of the site, such as the encryption used.

4. Check the Domain Name

A favorite tool of scammers is to create website addresses that are close but not exactly the same as large brands or companies. They hope that you will not notice that has been replaced by or that has been replaced by They are betting that you’re going to skim over the address bar and the domain name. This is one of the reasons why it’s important to double check your address bar if you are redirected to a commerce site from another page.

5. How Old Is the Domain?

Amazon was founded on July 5, 1994 in Seattle, Washington. Its website was founded on October 31, 1994. This information is easily available using the Whois Lookup domain tracker Any site founded in 2018 claiming to be is fraudulent. The same is true with other websites. Cyber criminals hope that their victims either do not know how to or simply will not research the age of the last-minute fraudulent sites they put together around holiday time. They hope that their real-looking websites will be enough to trick people into handing over their personal information. When you look up a website and see how long it has been in business, you get a good overall sense for its veracity.

6. Run a Virus Scan

A website that has more pop-ups than legitimate content should be viewed suspiciously. While the mere presence of ads on the site shouldn’t be taken as positive proof of fraudulent intentions, this could be an indication that viruses, malware, or phishing attempts lie in wait. Make sure you’ve had a recent virus scan and don’t be shy about running another one just for kicks. It’s easier to stop malware at the gate than try to root it out after it’s in your system.

7. Only Use Secure Payment Options

Legitimate e-commerce websites should offer standard payment options, including major credit cards and PayPal. If you are being asked to purchase your new iPad using a money order, a wire transfer, or some other form of unsecured and non-refundable payment, run away. This is true even if the rest of the site looks legitimate. Look for approval by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or similar organizations. While hackers often think to include a shoddy replica sticker proclaiming their safety, rarely do they bother to link it back to the actual issuer. Hover your cursor over the sticker and see where it leads.  

8. Take Basic Steps To Secure Your Computer

Even cyber security professionals find themselves inadvertently visiting fraudulent and potentially dangerous websites, so it’s reasonable to expect that the same thing will happen to you. However, there are some basic measures you can take to secure your computer and its contents. For example, keep up with system and software security updates. Updates can seem like an annoyance, but they are designed to cover security holes that cyber criminals have found. This includes keeping your OS and all other software that runs on your computer up-to-date. Choose a strong, no-logging VPN service to keep your data private when surfing the web. Through data encryption, It prevents cyber criminals from learning information such as your location and internet usage habits. It allows you to safely navigate the web anonymously. Keep your firewalls enabled. They serve as a barrier between your computer network and the Internet. They protect your computer by stopping threats from entering the system and preventing threats from spreading between your devices. Adjust your browser settings. This allows a high level of privacy while you browse and will prevent websites from tracking your movements by blocking cookies. Many safety options are disabled by default. You may be unwittingly exposing yourself more than you think each time you browse.

The Bottom Line

Online shopping is an awesome experience as it allows you to search for what you want from the privacy and comfort of your home. Millions of online transactions are made yearly with no issue. Don’t be afraid of shopping online, and don’t be afraid of fake websites. Simply empower yourself by knowing what to look for and use common sense. If it doesn’t feel right, run away. By doing these things, you will be able to take control of your online experience. Photo by Negative Space from Pexels

Gary Stevens

Gary Stevens is a front end developer. He's a full time blockchain geek and a volunteer working for the Ethereum foundation as well as an active Github contributor.


  1. The internet is an amazing place and you can use it for a countless number of worthwhile activities. But, much like anything else in life, there are some dangers. Don’t let that dissuade you, as long as you stay vigilant you’re not likely to run into many problems. Just stay on the beaten path, trust websites that have made an investment in authentication and be careful if you ever get the sense that something might be off.

    The biggest clue to whether or not a website is legit may be how you got there. A common lure to fraudulent websites is through email, sometimes cleverly concealed as a warning about a breach in your security.

  2. I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. Thanks a lot for keeping great stuff. I hope that you continue to do your work like this in the future

  3. This is a great post. I like this post. Many many thanks for this post. Really this post is so helpful.

  4. Great to share this information thanks..
    I am really happy to say it’s an interesting post to read. I learn new information from your article

  5. I spot a fake website with the help of using the above techniques. But how I block/report the website URL.
    Can you suggest me? I am waiting for your response.

  6. Great and informative article!
    It is great to know about these latest trends and technologies being j developer it’s important to stay updated with small changes and latest tech trends and all. You have covered up great insights here which are helpful for developers to know. Thanks a lot for sharing!

  7. Very useful information and I dont know others but it helped me a lot, people now a days are scared of buying stuff online because they have to submit their card details. Thanks for this info will be blocking the fake websites in future.

  8. I am really impressed by this blog post as I believe this is the basic and foremost information that you need to know before entering or working with any website. Wish to see some more such informative updates from your blog. Thanks.

  9. I am new to web development field and this information is very crucial and must have knowledge for any developer. I will be sharing it with my community. Thanks a lot.

  10. Thanks for sharing about the Cyber Crime and how we can stop it…
    I am really happy to say it’s an interesting post to read. I learn new information from your article

  11. The most exciting textual content on this thrilling topic that may be observed at the internet…thanks

  12. Yes!
    I am totally agree with you. This https word in our domain affect website very positively. I just implemented this technique on my own website as well.

  13. Great Blog. There is a lot of security tools to prevent and detect fake sites. And this is a strategy to help each other to prevent harmful attacks.

  14. Awesome expected post you shared here, I will require it many times, and here the outstanding selection of topic also makes me more jolly, please hope more blog post we get from you. Thanks advances!!!

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