Brand owners work hard to build up their business names. But the Internet is full of scammers. Many wrongdoers infringe brands with counterfeits, damaging their reputation and forcing companies to spend millions to fight back. This fight is not easy and anyone who says there is an easy way to identify scammers is just not telling the truth.

Brand protection requires analysis. And analysis requires data.

Our mission at DomainCrawler is to provide data for that kind of analysis, helping brands to protect themselves from cyber fraudsters. In this short article we are exploring how to identify websites that sell fake goods using our Domain Research platform.

Step 1: Use HTML Tags

Meta or HTML tags are snippets of text that describe a page’s content; the meta tags don’t appear on the page itself, but only in the page’s source code. HTML data includes meta description, meta keywords, H1 titles etc. In simple terms, this data reflects up to 90% of content of site’s front page. Being able to look through the HTML data can be an immense help to those companies that fight illegal or harmful content, as well as brand infringement and abuse of trademark rights since these tags often contain the names of the brands in order to be visible to search engines.
Let us say, we want to identify online stores that sell counterfeit goods. In the majority of cases, scammers, webshops selling counterfeits tend to use popular keywords in the HTML tags which attract the attention, like brand’s name + outlet,  sale, or 50% off
HTML Content_filter
With the help of the Domain Research database, it’s possible to collect the HTML data of over 1.4 billion sites. So by typing a name of a brand and the word sale into the HTML content filter of the Advanced Search tool you will be able to identify all the websites that contain these words in the meta-information. 
It possible to narrow down the search by setting sub-filter to the Exact phrase option, so the system will return only those domains that have the exact match.

Step 2: Make your search precise

There are two important features here that are worth mentioning. 

First, there is an option to add a sub-filter and set it to Exclude words mode. This is a quite helpful feature to exclude false positive results. For example, if you exclude the word blog it will help you to narrow the search – the system will not return topical blogs thus simplifying the task of identifying scammers.

Secondly, it is possible to enable fuzzy search. Fuzzy string searching or approximate string matching is the technique of finding strings that match a pattern approximately rather than exactly. In simple terms, it means that a search engine will be able to respond adequately to your query even if it contains a misspelt word. Or a misspelt brand name in our case. Internet fraudsters often use misspelt brand names to trick consumers into buying fake goods. So Adidas becomes Abidas or Adibas, etc. With Fuzzy search enabled it is possible to find all of that.

Step 3: Process the list of results

As a result, you’ll have a list of domains for further investigation. The system will return not only domain names but also their IP-addresses, mail servers, registrars and other information that you opt to include.

Domains in the list are clickable so you’ll be able to look through the detailed information: a complete overview of DNS, WHOIS, HTML and other data that can be found in our database. That means that you can identify IP-address and the name servers, learn registration information like name of the registrar, creation and expiration dates and so on. Also, you can find out what technologies are used on that website. This information might help identify other scam websites that have connection to the one detected: share the same IP or NS, registered on the same day with the same registrar, etc.
list of results

Why not just use Google?

The fact that this is only a three-step process may give an impression that it’s easier than it is in reality. That’s why one might ask – why can’t you do this kind of research just with the help of a search engine?

First of all, it would take an eternity to try to find them via search engine because these kinds of sites would not appear near the top pages, since they do not look credible to them.

The second reason is that Google, for example, will assume that you are looking for actual shopping and will display results according to your geolocation.

And lastly, most importantly, is that you will not be able to identify scammers while they’re just building their link networks trying to increase the flow of link equity to their domains. Since DomainCrawler’s Domain Research tool is using backlinks to collect information, we are able to identify the surge in the number of backlinks to the website and hence detect scammers in the process of building PBNs. This feature allows businesses to prevent brand infringements which of course saves money and protects brand’s reputation.


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