EXCLUSIVE – Second retail website scam revealed

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EXCLUSIVE - Second retail website scam revealed

Mystery deepens over ‘fake’ sites

By Gary Cooper

Following the cloning of UK MI retailer Dawsons Music’s website by a bogus site claiming to sell Epiphone guitars at spectacularly low prices (revealed exclusively in MIN on 12th October https://www.musicinstrumentnews.co.uk/2017/10/12/exclusive-dawsons-site-cloned-epiphone-scam/) a second mystery website has appeared, this time claiming to offer underpriced home recording equipment.

The alarm was sounded on Tuesday by UK microphone specialist Sontronics, which had been contacted by its US distributor, asking about the low prices for its products on the newly launched website www.musicstudioweb.com. As Sontronics’ Communications and Media Director, Lisa Coley, told MIN: ‘The prices this site is claiming to sell our microphones at are crazy. In fact my immediate reaction was to joke that we can’t even make them for that sort of price!’

Sontronics isn’t the only leading manufacturer to have its products listed. German headphone and microphone maker beyerdynamic has its DT770 headphones listed for sale at just 39 Euros but, curiously, the product’s number alone is shown – the headline refers only to ‘DT 770’ making no reference to beyerdynamic. Similarly, Focal’s Alpha 50 monitors (ostensibly on offer for 46 Euros) only carry a reference the manufacturer in the text, not the headline – suggesting the possibility that the site owner is trying to avoid drawing search engine attention to itself. Other brands whose products are mentioned include Zoom (an R16 digital multitrack recorder on offer for 70 Euros). Alesis (Elevate 5 Mk II monitors for 39 Euros) and Boss (an RC 202 loop station for 52 Euros).

As with the earlier site (www.epiphonebuy.com – now unreachable), unauthorised chunks of the ‘about us’ text have been lifted from the Dawsons Music site, but this time there is no mention of Dawsons, presumably as a result of the swift action the UK retailer said it was taking when MIN spoke with its MD, Mark Taylor, in October. Dawsons Music is not connected in way way with either scam site but the use of the same text, albeit slightly modified, suggests the two scam sites are at least connected, if not actually owned, by the same proprietor.

Meanwhile, pointing to either a lack of familiarity with English, or a hasty construction, the FAQ section on the new site is the same as that on the guitar site and irrelevant to the home studio gear it claims to be selling.

FAQ copied from previous bogus site
FAQ copied from previous bogus site

Scamadviser.com’s research lists the owner of the new site as Markx Karel at an address in Hattem, Holland, while the fake Dawsons site was registered in the name of an Italian owner from Anzio, but neither registration can be relied on for accuracy. Scamdaviser points out that the 13 day old site is hosted on a Seychelles-based server connected with spammers and fraud sites and that all the contact details listed refer back to free email accounts which can be easy to obtain and more or less untraceable.

The real mystery is what the site owner hopes to achieve. As with the Epiphone ‘offer’, credit card details are not immediately sought. Users have to register before they can buy. It is possible that card details would be asked for after registration but MIN cannot confirm this.

As before, we would ask MIN readers to please contact us if they spot any similar sites or curious web activity so that we can investigate and alert the trade to potential abuses.

Contact news@musicinstrumentnews.co.uk if you are suspicious of similar activity.