The link in the e-mail will take you to this site, which calls itself Ultimate Replica ("Luxury at an Affordable Price!") and sells counterfeit watches and other fancy stuff. According to EU Spam Trackers, the site's heritage can be traced back at least three years, and is the work of Alex Polyakov, one of at least 12 aliases that may represent a syndicate of people, though "he" has given interviews as one person. Impressively, he or they have been ranked as the world's largest spammer, accounting for 12% of spam traffic. Less impressively, Alex Polyakov has been linked to most conceivable Internet criminal techniques, methods and products, from illegal pharmacies to child porn. A number of the Web's domain registrars have blacklisted him, though a handful in China apparently still allow him to do business.
And now, possibly, some other registrar has given Polyakov a home. We'll be looking more into that in the coming weeks.
As for Ultimate Replica and its apparent sister site, Exquisite Replica, the watches are pretty nice-looking. On a site like this, though, you never know if you are looking at photos of the copies, or of the real thing. The site is straightforward about the watches' provenance -- it says so right in the name. There's a long list of brand merchandise on offer that's obviously counterfeited (trust me, you ain't going to get this watch for $124.)
Ultimate Replica also carries this disclaimer:
You can't actually prohibit someone, even if they are from a company trying to sue you for copyright violation, from looking at your web site -- unless you take steps to shield it from the public, like protecting it with a password. That kind of puts a crimp in the business plan, though. Also, there's no such thing as the Internet Privacy Act, and therefore, Bill Clinton didn't sign it -- though it has been customary for criminal sites to employ this tactic as a sort of precursor to claiming entrapment.We enforce if you are affiliated with or working for a brand name company mentioned either directly or indirectly, or any other related group, or were formally a worker, you cannot enter this web site, cannot access any of its files and you cannot view any of the HTM(L) files. If you enter this site you are not agreeing to these terms and you are violating code 431.322.12 of the Internet Privacy Act signed by Bill Clinton in 1995 and that means that you cannot threaten our ISP(s) or any person(s) or company storing these files, and cannot prosecute any person(s) affiliated with this page which includes family, friends or individuals who run or enter this web site.
Whether you want to buy a fake Rolex is up to you. But you'd be safer picking one up from the guys carrying suitcases of them around in various places around the world. That way you could hold the thing in your hand and see if it actually ticks (the best counterfeit watches do carry relatively sophisticated jeweled mechanisms made in China). Buying a watch over the Internet from a criminal syndicate is a bad idea for a variety of reasons, including these from The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (in their words):
- "they will find they have paid too much for a worthless product;
- they have no guarantee or after-sales service;
- they are risking their health as counterfeit products do not adhere to quality norms such as protection against allergies, radioactivity, etc;
- * they might well be questioned by customs authorities upon entering another country; their watch could be seized and they could easily be slapped with a fine."
WebWatcher's Beau Brendler is a managing editor for Consumer Ally, the former director of Consumer Reports WebWatch, former editorial director of ABC News.com and a longtime investigative reporter and editor.