Confessions of an Online Fashion Scam

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By Jade Garcia, PR Coordinator

You’re browsing Facebook and see an ad on the side of the screen with the shoes you’ve had your eye on for a while. You glance at it because it’s just an ad. But then you do a double take because the website is selling it for a lot less than other retailers! You get so excited about the deal that you decide to put two pairs into your shopping cart and click the checkout button and enter your debit card to purchase them both.

The next day you check your email to see if your purchase has shipped, but you never received a confirmation email. Back on the website you find a phone number. When you try calling, it rings and leads you to a voicemail. Next you check your bank account to see if they charged you for the shoes. Instead there’s a random transaction from a company you have never heard of before. What’s going on?

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This is just a scenario of what could happen to you when you run into an online purchase scam.

Consumer Experience

A consumer reported to Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest that she experienced a similar scam on sportsfanatic.co.

“I first saw their posts on Facebook ads- which now I know that should’ve been a sign,” she said.

She adds that she went to the Sports Fanatic website and saw the BBB shield, but never clicked on it to see a review.

When a couple weeks passed with no confirmation email and no package arriving with her sweatshirt, she tried looking up their phone number. She didn’t see one on their website so she emailed support@sportsfanatic.co. When she never received a call or email back she looked at her bank account and noticed a fraudulent charge listed as Summit View LLC.

Luckily, this consumer reported the incident to the BBB Scam Tracker and her bank. Through her bank, she was able to get her money back and change bank accounts so this business couldn’t charge her again. By reporting this scam to Scam Tracker, she warns other consumers to look out for these online shopping scams.

 

To dodge these scams, BBB warns to look out for the following red flags:

Spot Look-alike Sellers

 Watch out for URLs that use the names of well-known brands along with extra words or letters. It’s easy for scammers to mimic a famous retailer’s website. Even the confirmation email can be deceiving and seem legitimate. Check out retailers at bbb.org before you shop.

Look for the BBB Seal.

Some websites are misusing the BBB seal. To check if a company is truly accredited click on the blue BBB torch icon and you should be redirected to bbb.org to view the company’s business review. If not, it’s likely a fake.

Advertisement on Social Media

Forty percent of the scams reported to BBB Northwest were advertised on social media or used it as a means of contact. Remember, anyone can create a Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account. Check to see if the social media accounts have links to websites to make sure the business is legitimate.

Security Settings.

If the site is secure there should be an “s” in “https://” and a lock icon in the address bar on the purchase or shopping cart page.

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Still not sure if the site is a scam or not? Before checking out and typing in a form of payment, make sure to follow these tips:

Unusual Forms of Payment.

Be wary of anyone who asks you to pay for purchases using prepaid debit cards, gift cards, wire transfers, third parties, etc. These payments cannot be traced and cannot be undone.

Declined Card at Purchase.

Multiple consumers have reported to BBB that when they make a purchase on the site, their card claims to be declined and within hours their cards are charged several times.

Be Wary of Signing Up for an Account.

Some websites require credit card information when creating an account. By creating an account and providing personal information, it may mean signing up for an unknown subscription, charge or for scammers to hack your card information.

To find out more about scams or to report one go to BBB Scam Tracker.

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January Scam Wrap-Up

Scam Computer Key

The following are scams that were reported to Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest in January. In most instances names and locations have been omitted to protect the victims’ privacy.

ALASKA

This month there were 17 scams reported in Alaska with an estimated $6,100 lost.

Utility Scam

An Anchorage resident reported someone impersonated Municipal Light and Power in order to steal $300 from them. They claim they received a call from someone saying they needed to pay their electricity bill or they would be disconnected. The caller told them someone would be by their home in a few hours to disconnect the power if they didn’t pay up over the phone. After getting off the phone with the person the victim called back to say they were not with that utility company. The person on the other end of the phone preceded to pretend to be someone else. The Anchorage resident ceased communication.

Online Purchase Scam

An Anchorage man reported he lost $4,650 when he tried to purchase a Cockatoo for $1,400. The man claimed he was told to use United Pet Express to ship the bird. When he contacted the shipping company they informed him he needed to make a $2,400 deposit to cover any issues with delivery, which he did. Before the bird was shipped he was told he needed to pay $750 to cover the birds’ shots. Finally, he received a message from the “delivery man” stating he needed another $690 to drop off the bird and the refund. The man refused the pay any more money, and never received the bird.

OREGON

This month there were 83 scams reported in Oregon with an estimated $2,860 lost.

Counterfeit product

A Medford woman reports she lost $429 after she ordered two hoverboards from a California company for Christmas. The woman reports one of the hoverboards did not work. She called the company, but got a message stating the voicemail box was full. She emailed the company three times and got a response from customer service asking what was wrong with the machine. After explaining her problem, she never received a response. Her order did not come with a return address and repeated attempts to contact the company have not been answered.

Rental Home scam

A Gresham woman reported she lost $400 in a rental home scam. The woman reports she found a Craigslist ad for a rental house in Portland. The landlord said they lived in New York and requested she send a deposit via MoneyGram to his personal assistant and then he would send the keys. The women sent $400, but never received the keys.

IDAHO

This month there were 106 scams reported to Scam Tracker out of Idaho with an estimated $17,775 lost.

Facebook friend scam

A Caldwell man reported a fake Facebook friend tried to con him out of thousands of dollars. The man states he received a message on Facebook from who appeared to be an old friend of his. The friend said he had won $150,000 through a Facebook contest and the Caldwell man was also listed as a winner. He was told to send a message to “Agent Terry Williams” with “Non-Governmental Organization.” The man did this and was told by the “agent” that in order to receive his funds he would need to pay up. The man states: “He then sent me a list of amounts I could claim as my winnings starting at $100,000 and going up to $600,000. The catch here is that you pay $1,050 to claim $100,00, up to $10,500 to claim $600,000.” He was also told he needed to keep the contest a secret. The man became suspicious and reported the incident to BBB Scam Tracker.

Tax Collection scam

A Boise man reported he received an automated voice message claiming to be the IRS and he had a lawsuit and federal arrest warrant issued against him. He was told to call a number immediately. The man knew he did not have any legal action against him and did not call the number. He then reported the incident to BBB Scam Tracker.

MONTANA

This month there were 14 scams reported to Scam Tracker out of Montana with an estimated $300 lost.

Passport service scheme

A Manhattan woman reported she lost $178 when she tried to expedite the passport process for her five-year-old. The woman used an online service that told her they could help rush the process on obtaining a passport for her child. However, after paying the fee she contacted the National Passport Information Center and was informed the child had to be present at the office in order to obtain a passport and the information she was receiving from the business was not accurate.

Online Windows Support scam

A Deer Lodge woman reported she was almost victim of a tech scam. The woman reports she was working on her computer when she received a notice with a Microsoft logo telling her she had a virus and to call 877-767-7342. The woman called the number and spoke to man named “Bruno Williams.” He asked to do a diagnostic test to her computer remotely. The woman became suspicious and hung up on the man.

WASHINGTON

This month there were 200 scams reported to Scam Tracker out of Washington with an estimated $9,600 lost.

Online pet purchase scam

A Spanaway woman reported she lost $505 in a pet purchase scam. The woman reports she purchased a puppy from http://www.modestshihtzu.com via MoneyGram. The woman states once the seller received the money they requested additional funds to transport the dog in a special crate. When she refused, the seller told her they would deliver a dead puppy at her doorstep. The woman ceased speaking with the seller, but have received threatening emails from them.

Pierce County Sheriff Imposter Scam

A Buckley woman reports she received a call from someone claiming to be with the Pierce County Sheriff. The woman reports she received a call from a “Lt. Parker” who told her a warrant had been issued for her arrest for failure to appear for a civil duty court in December. She became suspicious when the caller told her she needed to purchase $1,975 in MoneyPak cards and to call the “Sheriff’s Treasurer” to give them the confirmation numbers so she wouldn’t be arrested when she went to the sheriff’s office to sign some paperwork. The woman contacted her local police department and confirmed the call was a scam.