Shoppers have been warned to avoid a spate of fake websites attempting to scam bargain hunters by pretending to offer heavily discounted goods from the collapsed budget chain Wilko.
Wilko is no longer selling goods online and has stopped all home deliveries or click and collect services after calling in administrators from PricewaterhouseCoopers on 10 August as it ran short of cash. Goods are only available to buy directly in one of its 400 stores.
At least 10 fake websites purporting to sell Wilko items at discounted prices – some of which carry the Wilko name in the website address – have sprung up after the retailer’s collapse. Administrators are attrying to get the sites shut down.
Some shoppers said on Facebook they had spent £100 on goods from fake websites and were concerned they would not get their money back or receive the items they had ordered.
At least one site was attempting to draw people in with a social media post offering a sofa for £4.99 and discounts of “up to 90%”, telling consumers that “because there are still a lot of goods piled up in the warehouse, we are going to sell at a super low price”. Wilko does not sell sofas.
Some shoppers said they had received emails confirming their orders but Wilko warned these were likely to be fake.
A spokesperson for the administrators said: “We have been made aware of a number of fake Wilko websites which are offering Wilko products at heavily discounted prices. These websites are not genuine and have been set up to scam users, the only legitimate Wilko website is www.wilko.com.
“We are in the process of working with the relevant authorities to have these websites removed. We would like to remind our customers that all Wilko sales are now in-store and you are unable to purchase items online.”
Scam websites use stolen images to appear official and may accept orders, and process payments, but never deliver the promised goods. Alternatively, they may send cheap imitations, random items or used or damaged goods.
Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, advises bargain hunters to do their research and look for online reviews of any website before buying for the first time. Scam websites can be reported via a specialist reporting service. Emails or texts offering big discounts can lead to fake websites and it suggests visiting the site directly to check it out rather than clicking on any link.
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Gareth Shaw, a deputy editor at MoneySavingExpert.com, said: “When buying goods online, it is always important to double check where you’re planning to buy from – scammers can spoof real retailers which can be very convincing. Always remember the old saying … ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’.”
More than 12,000 jobs are at risk at Wilko, with no bidder expected to take on the entire 400-store chain. Several buyers are looking at parcels of stores and it is hoped at least part of the chain can be rescued, with talks expected to continue throughout this week.
Interested parties are thought to include the Laura Ashley owner, Gordon Brothers; the Bensons for Beds owner, Alteri; and OpCapita, which once owned the now defunct Comet electrical goods chain. The likes of Primark, Poundland and B&M are thought to be interested in taking on some stores.