As the holiday shopping season gets underway, the state issued a warning about fake websites posing as legitimate New Hampshire small businesses.

State Attorney General John Formella said the fake websites will offer items available for sale at a deep discount and the option to contact the "sales department" to make a purchase using a wire transfer of funds.

"Victims of the scam are at high risk of losing their money, as scammers are often located overseas," Formella said in a statement.

In New Hampshire, these scams have been identified in the firearms industry and heavy equipment sales industry.

Websites will often look complete with social media pages that claim to be associated with a legitimate business. Scammers will sometimes purchase ads to direct you to their website.

When questions are asked, scammers will often be able to produce fake invoices, contracts, logos, and contact information to give the impression of legitimacy.

The scammers will also use phony email addresses to verify their website with groups like the Better Business Bureau, chambers of commerce, and Show Me Local.

Verify First

Formella suggested checking out sellers and websites before committing to a sale by asking for references. He also offered other suggestions to avoid fraudulent websites:

  • Watch out for deals that are too good to be true. A deep discount could be the sign of a scammer trying to lure you in.
  • If a deal does appear to be too good to be true, ask probing questions of the seller as to why the product is discounted.
  • Ask to speak to the seller over the phone. Ask detailed questions and thoroughly verify a seller before deciding to purchase the product.
  • Ask for references that can verify the legitimacy of the seller and contact those references.
  • Confirm that the seller’s contact information, including but not limited to email addresses, phone numbers, and physical addresses, is consistent across all platforms. If there are multiples websites listing different phone numbers, email addresses, or other information, be aware that some of the information may be fraudulent.
  • Visit the seller if possible. It is always best to see a product and meet a seller in person before committing to a purchase.
  • Check with local law enforcement or the Attorney General’s Office to see if any complaints have been filed against the seller.
  • Do not make a purchase if a seller insists that you pay via money transfer service or gift card.
  • Do not wire money to someone you do not know or who you have been unable to verify.

Scams can be reported to your local police or the Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau of the Attorney General’s Office at doj.nh.gov or by calling the Consumer Hotline at 603-271-3641.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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