/ Money

Scam watch: stung by fake shoe ad

A fraudulent Facebook ad posing as a luxury retailer tricked this victim into parting with their cash. Would you be able to spot it?

When an ad appeared on a Facebook user’s timeline appearing to be for luxury shoe shop Russell & Bromley, they clicked through and placed an order.

The three pairs of shoes they had apparently purchased came to a total of £72 and were paid for by credit card.

The confirmation email arrived 30 minutes later, but things were clearly not as they seemed. It was written in broken English and made no mention of the products they’d supposedly ordered.

Guide: how to spot a scam

The victim contacted their card provider immediately, cancelling the card and ordering a new one. It transpired that the £72 had been charged in Chinese yuan, so they’d actually paid £93.

Unfortunately the payment couldn’t be stopped, but they have since applied for a refund.

As for the advert, we’re told it continues to appear on both Facebook and Instagram, despite efforts made to report it.

Russell & Bromley itself is aware of this scam and has placed a warning on its website. It is actively working with its legal partners to shut down illegitimate websites.

Proliferation of fake ads

We’re hopeful that the card company refunds this victim, and have advised that a chargeback claim is possible as the shoes never arrived.

Chargeback means you can get your money back (in many cases) if goods and services aren’t delivered, or are delivered but not as described. It applies to debit and credit card payments.

Many credit card payments qualify for an even stronger, legally enshrined protection called Section 75. Unfortunately, this payment doesn’t as the goods cost less than £100.

We’re concerned about the proliferation of fake ads on social media and other websites.

Facebook told us it takes action to stop fraud ‘wherever it appears’ and is investing in a new tool for reporting scam ads.

Have you spotted this fake shoe ad on social media? Have you seen anything similar? If so, get in touch in the comments.

Comments

If a product looks cheap, perhaps that should ring alarm bells.

It would not occur to me to purchase anything via Facebook, any more than agreeing to part with money if I receive a nuisance or scam call.

If victims are refunded by card companies then I hope that they will attempt to recover the money and in this case perhaps Facebook should foot the bill for not checking that the seller was legitimate. eBay has not been without criticism, but many of us are happy to use it for smaller purchases.

Exactly. A sensible shopper would make some enquiries to see if the “outlet” was genuine and where it was located. Russell and Bromley at least 18 months ago put online warnings about fake and fraudulent websites. The problem is people don’t seem to think and then act irresponsibly. We then give them their money back, so its almost a “can’t lose”.

Card companies are partly responsible if they continue to give credit card facilities to these criminals but I imagine it is very difficult to prevent them getting new facilities, probably under a new name, even if they are caught out. Is there any way round this?

Morning Malcolm. Let’s be careful with the way we refer to people who have unfortunately lost money to scams like this. This is, after all, a victim, and Which? is here to help educate, inform and prevent it from happening to others.

I completely appreciate that people need to be extremely careful when shopping online, but we must look out for those who are not yet ‘digitally’ savvy in what’s been quite a big change to lifestyles and shopping habits in the last 15 years alone.

@gmartin, George, well I’m suggesting that with such a huge price difference between the “offer” and normal price for R&B shoes the prospective “sensible” purchaser would think twice about how genuine the offer was – perhaps too good to be true? I’d suggest they are victims of impulse without due consideration. I do want to see people educated, but we have had many years of online shopping and many warnings of fake and fraudulent offers. R&B themselves warned of fake websites 18 months ago. So my personal view is that giving money back (our money, of course) when people act in response to such an extreme offer without due thought does not encourage a future responsible approach. I realise that card companies have a responsibility to repay under many circumstances.

We hear regularly of people who have lost money due to a scam when they have responded to an offer that was too good to be true. I’m afraid I can’t tread on eggshells and say “oh dear” when I believe they have been irresponsible.

I absolutely agree that there’s an element of personal responsbility that people need to take in these situations, and I’m certainly not suggesting that we say ‘oh dear’ and move on – education is absolutely paramount. What I am asking though is that in responding to stories such as this we consider the vulnerability and impact on the victim, for whom being defrauded will be a troubling and emotionally difficult experience.

I’d also like to see people being more savvy when it comes to offers that are, quite clearly, too good to be true, but not everyone will have the level of understanding of the way in which the internet, adverts and social media works.

An elderly friend of my mother’s very recently fell victim to a posted catalogue scam. When she realised what had happened she felt absolutely terrible. We’ve also discussed similar experiences, such as Johanna Butt’s unpleasant struggles after a Bitcoin investment scam: https://conversation.which.co.uk/money/celebrity-bitcoin-scam-facebook-experience/

By working together we can increase the level of understanding people have and help expose these scams to a wide audience. We can’t reach everyone, but the more we discuss and help educate and publicise, the more good we’ll be able to do.

@gmartin, well George, I see a Convo as a place to make an honest (personal) response to an issue, hopeful politely, courteously and inoffensively. I suggested here that, in view of the huge price disparity, a bit of checking before paying would be best – education. I have made known in other places my own views on automatic compensation, what I see as personal responsibility in regard to fraud, overdrafts, scams and so on. I expect that not all will share those views but I express points of view that I hope will generate a debate, rather than simply sympathise with every predicament that is put up for discussion. I don’t see that as a way to make acceptable progress.

However, you are in charge of the Convo and if you feel presenting a particular point of view is out of place you can remove it.

I agree with everything you’ve said there, Malcolm. I don’t think expressing those views is out of place at all. What I would ask, however, is that in our initial reactions to these stories we do remember the human side of these scams – the difficult admissions of experiencing fraud and the feelings that come with it.

Always available to discuss further by email on any subject 🙂

Sorry George, but I agree with malcolm here and John who says:
I do not accept, as a generalisation, that people who buy goods on line are not internet savvy.

Had this been about one pair of nameless shoes, more sympathy might have been forthcoming, but it was 3 pairs of named and what are normally very expensive shoes that are only sold directly by R&B so the buyer had to have some idea that something was not right and decided to take advantage of it.

The worrying aspect is that with the expectation of reimbursements when things go wrong, people knowingly take a chance on dodgy transactions.

Phil says:
29 August 2019

Three pairs of shoes for £72?

I wouldn’t give Facebook too much credit they needed a kick in the backside from well know consumer advice personality -Martin Lewis via a defamation law suite filed in April last year who was fed up with the vast number of scams including showing his image in a fake advert .

He withdrew it after promises of Facebook cleaning up its act and introducing the above,applicable only to the UK at the moment (see what I mean ?).
£3 million donation to CASA ( citizens advice scam action + adverts ) .
Citizens advice -phone-0300-300-3003 ,wont put email link as its only HTTP not HTTPS (why ?) ?
Advice –install -HTTPS Everywhere on your browser.

This was in last month’s W? magazine and was discussed briefly on 18th July.

I will repeat what I said then.

You will be lucky to buy one pair of Russell & Bromley shoes for £72 let alone 3 pairs, even in the sales. You can also only buy their shoes directly from them.

This is a good example of a too-good-to-be-true offer that people will take a chance on knowing there is a good chance of a refund if anything goes wrong.

The easier the reimbursements, the less responsibility people take for their actions.

This is an old scam and facebook put out a scam alert nearly a year ago:
https://www.facebook.com/296196564495682/posts/fb-instagram-online-russell-bromley-shoes-scam-from-china-fb-page-called-madelei/306608770121128/

Russell & Bromley also warn people:
https://www.russellandbromley.co.uk/help-Counterfeit_Websites

Just to add to this ,Facebook allowed MS,s Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users friends without consent and gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read Facebook users private messages.
Facebook “partners” were allowed the same info gathering as Facebook itself,this was a two-way street ,interaction in both directions ,but about a dozen companies went beyond the “non-identifying ” limits enabling to see users contacts with friends –even after 2014 when Facebook said (due to complaints ) that it was ” stripping all applications of that power”.

As of 2017 -Sony-MS-Amazon and others could obtain users email addresses through their friends and allowed Spotify -Netflix and the Royal Bank of Canada to read,write and delete users private messages and see all participants on a thread,Yahoo could read real-time feeds of friends posts ,even the “exalted ” The Times (one of 9 media companies ) had access to users friends list for an article sharing application (stopped in 2011 ).

The USA has no general consumer privacy law and with future “integration ” with US laws and customs in this country people better “gen up ” with US law .
There is much more but the US report is pretty long and detailed, by the way Russia,s Google Yandex is in collaboration with Facebook including Facebook,s unique user ID,s ( does Congress know ?), I removed Yandex browser from my system many months ago as its just as info gathering as Google .

This would be a conversation to pick up in the Lobby, Duncan. While privacy issues with Facebook are a very valid concern, they’re not really on topic for the discussion in this space.

Isn’t this website looked at by the general public Jon ?
This sounds like a policy decision just to promote a conversation rather than teaching the public by giving information so that a more informative public can reason for themselves a given situation and so come to a reasoned conclusion .
Has Which ? now reached the stage of us becoming “information bots ” so long as that information complies with a set political/economic policy and is so restricted that they are constantly referred to joining Which ? as a paid member to obtain any more detail .
Helping the public IMO is making them achieve a more judgemental position ,or is that restricted to— see Which ? -x-y-z ?
If so it brings into question the raison etre of the whole website (Which Conversations ).
I perfectly understand Which making money —I am for it ,and yes I believe in capitalism with a small “c” but to what end is this website ?
It should attract young people yet they are constantly put off by being criticised for grammatical errors for one .

We ask in the Community Guidelines that you keep comments to the subject being discussed in the conversation. This helps keep the space organised, so people can find and join the discussions they are expecting to join. In this space, it’s scams on Facebook.

The Lobby’s there specifically for when you want to move off a specific topic into a new one. People can still see it, and if it generates discussion then we can then start a dedicated conversation about it.

Thank you for your reply Jon but I am struggling to find what I said is “off topic ” when I directly indicate Facebook the details above obtainable from a US government service website / US tech. websites where US citizens are freely given information directly relating to any wrong done to them .

I then take it that only basic information is given to the public in the UK rather than criticise/blame a giant US conglomerate ,in other words moan about it and don’t act or advise the general public to contact a NGO etc who many posters in the past have criticised as being ineffective —strange ?

If Which ? advertises a convo relating to a subject close to the public’s heart a flood of posts are received in that convo but putting replies into the Lobby is not going to get much interest in relation to the main convo on that subject as most of the public will not go there but (naturally ) look for a reasoned reply in the main convo.

Let’s park this here and pick this up by email, Duncan.

Of greater concern to me in this case is that the customer was given no prior knowledge that the trade would take place in Chinese currency at considerable extra expense. I had assumed it was against the law to conceal such information. It is quite clear that Facebook are not conducting adequate checks on the businesses they host and the jurisdiction and currency conversion implications should be part of the screening.

I do not accept, as a generalisation, that people who buy goods on line are not internet savvy. A tiny handful might be innocent and unaware, but not those searching for bargains and looking at any unlikely website to find them.

If any product requires a fitting for size and fit, shoes must be the most important. Only if it is a repeat order would on-line purchasing be acceptable.

I endorse Malcolm’s comments on this one.

Jacques Bonnin says:
31 August 2019

Simple enough. Do not trust Facebook for adverts…

John Baden says:
31 August 2019

There are an increasing number of adverts for polo’s on Facebook claiming to be official Premiership Football Club items & also F1 team polo’s. I regularly report these as a scam, but Facebooks advert reporting tool does not allow you to say they are fakes. Majority of the top clubs only sell items from their own shops/website. So why are Facebook not picking up on these fake goods.

Paul Pearson says:
31 August 2019

There are some self righteous people involved in this debate!

You are so right, Paul. It’s almost as bad as people being judgemental. 🙂

Rev N Jenkins says:
31 August 2019

I was the victim of a Facebook scam to buy Clarks shoes from Clarks eu. They were cheap but all the photos were of Clarks styles and I assumed they were last years stock or something . I dont always think as clearly as I used to and I foolishly bought them with a debit card. I got an email from the company saying that the name would appear in my statement as something different which made me a bit uneasy. Then another email saying it would take 6 weeks to process. Finally I received a small package from China containing a cheap fake Cartier bangle. I didnt make the link initially, but then contacted my bank to ask about a fraud refund. I have heard nothing. Facebook should be the ones who are penalised since they are making money from these fraudulent advertisers.

Neil says:
31 August 2019

No innocent people in this case. A known scam should be blocked. Gullible or greedy people, giving money to criminals makes the world a more dangerous place. If they paid on a credit card give them their money back but block their card for a month. Then fine the platform, Facebook in this case, the same amount. And while we’re at it, ‘sign in via Facebook or Twitter,’ should not be a thing – it loads too much security reliance in one place and exposes the account to tracking and data harvesting.

The US FTC has approved a $5 billion settlement against Facebook for violating users privacy (reported July 12th) which is less than 1% of its roughly $580 billion market capitalization–NYT.
Unusually this caused a share value increase of about 2 % to around $205/share,
the deal is being reviewed by the US Justice Dept. and restrictions attached on how Facebook “treats its users ” ( The Wall Street Journal ) -paywall involved .

I agree with Neil on the “sign in with” etc but that is nearly universal now.
Watch out for Disqus I use it to log into several US /UK websites , it tracks you round the globe so I can log in in the USA etc and it knows who I am so I don’t need any special login just use the one appropriate to the UK.

Robin says:
1 September 2019

Lot’s going on with this scam. First of all, I am so pleased when people subject to scams bring to all our attention what happened. That’s brave, helpful and brings awareness to us all, regardless of whether we perceive we need it or not.
Now to social media ads, they are paid for and have been accepted by Facebook, Twitter etc, our laws are out of date and need to make them liable for any fraud perbitrated from one of their ads. This would focus their attention on the scrutiny they do before accepting an advertisers money.

Agree Robin but that would require high moral values usually only found nowadays in an Abbey with good monks.

Williamina Duncan says:
2 September 2019

That’s like a company called Gracemomo.com they advertise jackets but when you order the jacket it’s nothing like the picture on their website it looks cheap and when you try to ask for a full refund and return item they fob you with it’s to expensive to send we will give you 3 dollars and you keep the jacket also on parcel package it states Southall as return address you need to return back to China by tracked and it cost £13.00 to send it i have warned others on Facebook and Twitter about this company don’t trust i have pictures of the actual jacket you get also a saved image of the jacket they advertise they are not the same jacket they are a rip off company i had a lady contact me with the same trouble i had so peopl out there be very careful

Christine says:
6 September 2019

Hmm, I tried to get a bank refund when I was sent a different item, a cheap generic chinese showerhead, not the well reviewed water-saving model I had ordered as shown on the company’s web site, by a company that turned out to be fake, using a fake address as return on packaging. To recover my money, I was told by NATWEST I needed to get expert statements verifying the difference. I still can’t imagine how I could have done this and suspect legal statements would have cost more than the showerhead. I could have provided images and my order details but NATWEST weren’t interested. Not so easy.

Beverley Lotz says:
6 September 2019

I bought some shoes from Hugofireshop in June . They arrived and were absolutely not as advertised , I only got a return address through PayPal and returned them to China , there was no mention of them being from China in the original advert. I still haven’t received a refund .

If you returned them to China to a Chinese company then you will not receive a refund Beverley , China has an official government non-return policy ,their government says that those who export Chinese goods for the public ,and by that I mean those not part of the Chinese company but foreigners are the ones that are legally liable .
Your complaint is with the seller -Hugofireshop .
They sound like a .com company on the web and not a normal company in the legal sense I cannot find it on the British government,s company finder.
Do they sell via another company ?

It is worth checking on website sellers before parting with money. Hugofireshop.com does not seem worth dealing with if comments like this are to be believed. https://www.scamdoc.com/view/22743

Rjays says:
7 September 2019

I recently inadvertently bought an item through an advert.
When it came to paying the cost of postage was so ridiculous that I deleted everything and DID NOT submit the order. As soon as I came out of the website there was an email thanking me for my order.
I got straight onto the credit card company to stop payment but not only was I too late I was surprised that you can no longer stop a payment. However, I did discover that the company had not charged P&P. What then really disconcerted me was that when the package arrived it was from China, the website suggested that it was coming out of America! The item I was buying was not expensive but it was all the other issues which worry me.

How its done Rjays –just one of many Chinese websites using US (some UK ) sellers to sell through them (small version of Amazon ) thereby overcoming the Chinese government legislation which does not allow refunds for Chinese companies to the general public but puts the onus on “exporters “/third parties .
Americans have not been slow to take this up ,well it is the Home of Capitalism , 1000,s of young enterprising Americans are making money $$$$ from this-
https://www.waystocap.com/en/sell