Customers who buy from the sites either receive nothing, counterfeit goods, or have their credit card details stolen. Criminal gangs in Asia are believed to make millions of pounds from the fraud.
Officers from the Met’s central e-crime unit, working with the body responsible for domain names in the UK, Nominet, removed the websites, which included Australiaugg4shop.co.uk, hotlinksshop.co.uk and etiffany-shop.co.uk
Central e-crime unit head Det Supt Charlie McMurdie said: “This is the biggest operation of its kind in the UK. Where people are placing their credit card details onto an internet site and that site is being controlled outside of the UK by criminal networks, then there’s the obvious potential those details will be used for other fraudulent activity.”
The criminal gangs try to make the sites look as legitimate as possible by registering a domain name with “.co.uk” at the end. They use false details or hide behind anonymous e-mail addresses when signing up, and are almost impossible to trace.
The scammers were targeting Christmas shoppers, according to the Financial Times, which also says Internet fraud is estimated to be worth $50 billion a year globally.