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The Register is reporting a social engineering spoof by the group Scam Detectives who offered fake “Golden Tickets” to the royal wedding next April for £250 ($388 USD). There were 160 site visitors on the spoof site in 12 hours willing to buy the fakes.

(Click on graphic to enlarge)

“Scam Detectives used a free online website building package top set up a spoof site – – only minutes after the announcement of the royal wedding. The site was promoted using social networks, adverts on classified advertising websites and spam posts on popular forums” Register writer John Leyden wrote.

Scam detectives, set up about a year ago, said its goal is “To reduce the number of people taken in by online scams every year and stop YOU from losing your hard earned money.”

The stunt is a great awareness raiser, and presents the problem that Internet shoppers always face: how do you spot a fake site?

Scam detectives’ web site provides some approaches in the details of its investigation of another ticket-selling scam:

— On the site purchase page, try inputting fake data, such as all zeros for a credit card number. If the site accepts a random number and gives a notice that your purchase is on the way, it’s a site set up to steal credit card numbers. A legitimate site will tell you the number is bad.

— Look for contact information on the web site. If there is very limited information or no way of contacting the site owners about problems, something is fishy. A site might list contact email addresses, but if they are fake, you don’t want to do business there. Scam Detectives mentioned that there is a web site set up to check the veracity of email addresses: (Though for some reason it lists valid Yahoo addresses as bad.)

— Check the “whois” listing for the date the site was set up and contact information. It the site claims to have been in business for years but whois date shows a registration in the previous few days or weeks, it’s probably a scam. New businesses go on line all the time, however, a recent registration date should make you check further.

— Do a search engine check for the site (or company) and see if anyone else has discussed it as a scam or as a site with irregularities.

From our experience, we would suggest that shoppers be especially careful of any web site that is advertised by spam email.

Register story: Monarchist marks fall for faux royal wedding ticket site

Tom Kelchner