Website owners and customers should be aware of how to spot potential issues.

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Among those targeted recently was antiques dealer Luke Honey, whose website at was copied and a ‘mirror’ site set up with a similar name.

Honey said: “They lifted my information and photos and set up a copy-cat website offering huge discounts.

“I had it removed but they could easily set up another. Anyone who is sensible should be able to realise it was fake but some unsuspecting buyers could be tricked.”

He was able to get the rogue website taken down quickly after he reported it to e-commerce firm Shopify (which hosts his online shop) and The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

Links redirected

Separately, another dealer, who did not wish to be named, suffered a different recent attack where hackers had been able to access his website and add redirection links to other websites such as those advertising pornography and gambling.

He said: “Small businesses are really struggling to stay on top of all the ways scammers try to infiltrate websites.”

An NCSC spokesperson said: “Whether you’re a local antiques dealer or a large multinational organisation, you’ll want to do as much as you can to protect your brand.

“There are steps that business owners can take to reduce the chances of this happening.

The NCSC strongly encourages business owners of all sizes to familiarise themselves with the free guidance and resources available on the NCSC website, which includes bespoke advice on how to protect your brand from being exploited online.”

Some of the copycat websites advertised that payments could be made using companies including Mastercard and Visa.

A Mastercard spokesperson said: “We have zero tolerance for illegal activity on our network. When specif ic instances of potentially illegal activity are identified, we investigate the allegations and take action as appropriate to ensure compliance with both local laws and our rules and standards.”

A statement from Visa said: “Visa works behind the scenes to protect consumers from fraudsters. Worldwide, Visa has invested over £8bn in fraud prevention and cyber security in the last five years. Visa is committed to tackling fraud to help everyone pay with confidence.”

Advice for businesses

The NCSC’s Cyber Action Plan at provides organisations with a free personalised action plan that lists what organisations can do right now to protect against cyber attacks.

Advice for buyers

• If you think you have been defrauded, call your bank and explain the situation - they can often help you claim your money back.

• Study website URLs and check they don’t look different/strange.

• When purchasing pay on credit card so that you can make a claim if the goods do not arrive or are not as described (see Consumer Rights Act 2015).

By Visa and The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC)