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18 Dec 2019

Tech seller taken offline following Which? reports of scam fears

Tech retailer website gpfintech.uk has been suspended and taken offline by its hosting company following a Which? member tip-off

A site selling popular branded TVs, cameras and baby car seats has been taken offline after a customer was repeatedly urged to reattempt his payment via a less protected method.

Which? member, James Jardine, told us he bought a TV from gpfintech.uk on Black Friday using his credit card, only to later receive emails from the site claiming the major sales event had caused a payments backlog.

Fife resident James was twice urged to re-attempt payment by bank transfer, with different account details at different banks provided on each occasion.

The website host company has now suspended it pending an 'explanation' from its client after Which? reported James' experience and other inconsistencies we spotted on the site.

Payments made by bank transfer offer customers less protection than those made by card.

Tech deals with a scam sting in the tail

James had been seeking a particular LG-branded TV, and patiently tracked prices through a comparison site. Finally on Black Friday he saw an excellent offer from gpfintech.uk. He paid the £1,250 price with a credit card and received a confirmation email.

Later he received a second email, asking him to pay directly into a bank account as 'Black Friday rush sales' had left them with 'alot [sic] of pending and outstanding payment to clear'. An account number and sort code were provided.

Fearing a scam, he then contacted his card company, who cancelled his card after hearing his experience - and, thankfully, no money had been taken.

Then he received another email, again exhorting him to follow 'management direction' and pay by bank transfer. This email contained a different set of account details to the first email.

At this point, James contacted Which? about his concerns.

The website's home page displayed TVs, cameras, buggies and scooters

All the telltale signs of a scam site

The claim about the payments backlog is very dubious - modern payment systems are capable of handling lots of card transactions simultaneously.

Many other things about gpfintech.uk don't add up. Its stated company name, 'GF Tech Ltd', can't be found on Companies House (although there are companies registered with very similar names, and there's no suggestion that they are linked).

Then there are the two sets of bank account details provided at different banks, and the fact that the website was only registered on 30 August 2019, despite website claims that the firm was founded in 2000.

Before it was taken down, the site also contained 'lorem ipsum' dummy text on one page.

We contacted GP Fintech/GF Tech Ltd via email and web chat, but it didn't provide a response to our allegations.

The site contained 'lorem ipsum' dummy text

Taken down, for now

The website's hosting company EKM told us it had contacted its customer [the person or people behind the site] for an explanation. As of Monday afternoon it hadn't received a satisfactory response and so the site remains suspended.

However, it warned that it's possible for the customer to transfer the domain away from EKM to another provider in order to get it back online.

If you have been scammed use our guide to get your money back after a scam. Your next steps will depend on how you were parted from your cash.

Stay safe: how to spot a scam retailer online

Major sales events such as Black Friday are a magnet for scammers. Follow our tips to stay safe when shopping online:

  • Sticking with retailers or marketplaces you know and trust is your best bet for staying safe.
  • Read the website address carefully. Scammers sometimes register addresses that are very similar to those of popular retailers.
  • If you're taking a chance on an unknown retailer or marketplace, watch out for fake reviews. There are some telltale signs, such as different reviewers using very similar phrases.
  • Pay for bigger purchases via credit card where possible as this gives the strongest protection. Paying by debit card or PayPal also offers some protection.
  • Beware of any deal that sounds too good to be true. It probably is.

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