RIP-OFF ALERT: Counterfeit goods being sold on the Internet are a plague for brand-name oriented shoppers around the holidays.

Federal authorities recently seized 150 domain names of organizations that were selling knockoffs as legitimate items online. But that's just the smallest tip of a big iceberg because there is this clamoring, especially among women, for designer shoes, sunglasses, purses, dresses, you name it.

I buy my sunglasses at the dollar store, and I wear them over my regular prescription glasses because I won't pay for prescription sunglasses. Yet my executive producer Christa tells me it's not uncommon for people who are devoted to brand names to pay upwards of $500 or $800 for a pair of designer sunglasses!

At prices like that, you can see the appeal of the counterfeiters who claim to sell designer stuff at really great prices. These phonies make knockoffs, set up websites and then sell their wares claiming they're the real deal. This is different than what goes on in Chinatown and New York. Everybody knows that's counterfeit and pays 12 or 15 cents on the dollar as a general rule.

The problem with the counterfeit websites is that people think they're buying real stuff and it's not real.

Remember this: If a supposed brand name is being offered at a huge discount, you know you're probably about to get conned.

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to save more, spend less and avoid getting ripped off. View More Articles

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