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Forensic Website Investigation: Busting Fake Websites

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Cybertrace Team

August 26, 2022 · 6 min read

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How to Find Out Who’s Behind a Scam Website

While we all access countless websites every day for work and leisure, some of them are out to access us. Scam websites aim to steal thousands of dollars from unsuspecting victims, while phishing websites are after sensitive personal information. In either case, perpetrators use these for nefarious purposes, putting at risk your identity, finances and livelihood. To fight back against scammers and phishers, let’s look at key warning signs to keep you and your family safe. And if the crooks already got you with their dirty tricks, learn how Cybertrace’s forensic website investigations can help find out who’s behind the scam website. As global industry leaders, Cybertrace have successfully completed dozens of website investigations for a variety of clients. But first, let’s look at why fake websites are set up and how they operate.

Why do fake websites exist?

Almost all fake websites are after two things: your money (scams) or your personal information (phishing) to perpetrate further fraud. Thankfully, more than a hundred forensic website investigations by Cybertrace have revealed some common, easily recognisable patterns. Usually, fraudsters establish initial contact with their targets via unsolicited emails, calls, texts or via social media. They often use tactics like romance baiting whereby perpetrators profess their love, when all they’re really after is your money. Their overall strategy is to play on victims’ hopes or FOMO by promising great deals or incredible investment opportunities. Alternatively, they may deploy fear by foreshadowing or threatening grave consequences if their targets don’t take a particular action. Whatever emotional lever they use, their goal is to funnel victims to their fake website.

Not too long ago, fake websites were crudely made with poor quality images and plenty of spelling/grammar mistakes. However, as website design technology has become increasingly easy to access and use, today’s fake websites look stylish and sophisticated. Some appear so professional that they are almost indistinguishable from the real deal. Fortunately, Cybertrace’s experienced forensic website investigations team have plenty of tools at their disposal to pull apart fake websites. But what should everyday people look for when trying to figure out whether a website is real or fake?

Warning signs of fake websites

There are some basic warning signs when considering any online purchases, investments or personal information requests. For one, check whether the URL seems in any way unusual. Often, scammers try to fool victims by imitating trusted brands but including an alternative domain extension (amazon.org instead of amazon.com). They might also use slightly different spellings (amaz0n.com or amazons.com) to redirect targets to their fake websites that mimic the look and feel of the original. Forensic website investigations routinely look for these discrepancies, and so can you.

Furthermore, it pays to look more deeply at the fake website’s own information as well as online reviews by others. Regarding website information, we explored some of the tell-tale signs in a recent blog. Similarly, when it comes to online reviews, another recent blog on fake news and fake reviews helps shed some light. While these are important red flags, what if it’s too late and the crooks already managed to steal your money or information? You need a forensic website investigation.

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What does a Cybertrace forensic website investigation entail?

Forensic website investigations completely deconstruct the fake website with the aim of finding out who’s behind the scam website. This is a very technical and complex investigation and, as global industry leaders, Cybertrace have an exceptionally high capability with our website forensics. Whilst the offending website is the core focus of our investigation, Cybertrace will deliver a broad probe that also expands into corporate database and open-source searches, document analysis, investigative database searches and social media analysis, where applicable. We will leave no stone unturned to find the culprits behind the fake website.

What can a forensic website investigation find that I can’t?

Cybertrace Australia’s forensic website investigators are highly skilled at identifying, isolating and untangling webs of complex data associated with domains, websites and hosting accounts. Our team then link the digital leads with people, corporate entities, business partners and addresses. Due to the nature of the internet, our team can investigate websites hosted anywhere in the world and for clients from all countries. The team has deep experience applying their capabilities in support of various investigation types, including cyber fraud, scams, copyright and defamation. Due to the internet and criminal techniques constantly changing, our team ensure they constantly stay abreast of any changes and in many ways pioneer the art of website cyber forensics.

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What makes Cybertrace stand out from the crowd?

Members of Cybertrace’s forensic website investigations team bring an exceptional blend of investigative and IT skills to the job. Three of these core skills stand out in delivering unmatched results for our clients. Firstly, our expert analysts are adept at thinking outside of the box, following minute leads across multiple platforms and domains. This means they are constantly finding innovative means to cross-reference information and finding gaps in the scammers’ armor. All it takes is for the fake website fraudsters to make one single mistake and our investigators will find it. And they all make mistakes, eventually.

Secondly, their professional experience means that Cybertrace investigators are highly proficient in looking for and recognizing patterns in fake websites. These patterns might reveal the fake website developers’ likely geographical base, modus operandi and common tactics. Recognising patterns also allows our forensic website investigations team to link the fake website to other known scam operators.

This leads into the third core skill: intelligence matching. As global industry leaders, Cybertrace have an unparalleled track record of successfully identifying and reporting on hundreds of scam websites. In addition, our analysts have conducted dozens of in-depth forensic website investigations that allow our investigators access to a treasure trove of proprietary programs and files. Intelligence matching might thus tie a fake website to an already known criminal syndicate or reveal a previously identified offender.

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Sounds great. What do you need to get started?

For the best possible chance of finding who’s behind a scam website that defrauded you, contact Cybertrace today. Get our industry-leading forensic website investigations team behind you and turn the tables on liars, thieves and scammers. All we need from you to get started is the offending website’s exact URL as well as information on what they have stolen from you. Our expert analysts will leave no stone unturned and can even conduct multi-stage investigations to root out the perpetrators. If you have been a victim of fake website scams or phishing attacks, contact Cybertrace and take action today!

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