“I saw this ad on Facebook for masks to protect against the coronavirus. I clicked on the link and it looked very reliable so I entered my credit card number and ordered several of them. It has been weeks and I haven’t received anything. I went back to Facebook but the ad has disappeared. The phone number (to a foreign country) is disconnected. What can I do now?”
Every day we get calls and emails from consumers who are cheated by popup ads on Facebook. Many are from older folks who don’t know how to check out the company or the ads; they just figure if the ad is on Facebook it must be legitimate.
There are scores of scams on Facebook. In the cases of simple rackets like popup ads that are “too good to be true,” BBB tries to track down the selling company, but the victim may only have and email address or phone number, both useless. We can then counsel the victim on how to file a charge back with their credit card company. They often ask us why Facebook allows scam ads on their web site, and we know that the company tries to monitor this situation and remove the junk ads; but the volume of these scams is astronomical.
Biggest Facebook scams we see include:
· “Friend” requests. You get a message from a “friend” telling you about a great deal or even a government grant program (“Coronavirus stimulus $10,000 grant you never need to repay. Call (XXX) XXX-XXXX and they can arrange the grant. It worked for me! I got the money!”) These messages are often complete scams. Don’t assume your friend sent them; their address book was probably hacked and the fake message sent out looking like it came from them.
· Surveys. They seem innocent and often have a gift card or nice prize for participating. But they are used to harvest information about you for identity or account theft.
· Requests to verify your Facebook account. In general, any message you receive over the internet – including Facebook – asking “verification” of an account number and wanting your information is always a scam.
· Bad sellers on the Facebook Marketplace. Never buy an item on the Facebook Marketplace unless you can physically inspect it. If you are making a purchase, arrange to meet the seller at an appropriate safe location like the police department parking lot.
Let’s not forget cat scams. BBB has often warned about puppy scams where consumers think they are buying purebred puppies from distant breeders over the Internet. The majority of these breeders are fakes and consumers are cheated out of thousands of dollars trying to buy the non-existent puppies.
We recently learned of a Toledo consumer who sent money to a breeder – supposedly in Richmond, Texas — to buy a purebred Sphinx cat.
After they sent the “breeder” the fee, they were notified that they needed to send an additional $750 for a shipping crate which was refundable when the cat arrived. They realized it was a scam and refused. They demanded a refund but got nothing.
The “breeder’s” web site has now disappeared. BBB ScamTracker currently records 54 consumer complaints all over the country against fake cat breeders, each of whom lost money. Each “breeder” is different; they open a web site, scam a few victims and them disappear.
BBB urges anyone buying a cat or puppy from an online breeder to travel to the site and see the animal in person. Never trust a fancy web site; they are often highly convincing, and up to 85% of them are fake.