/ Scams

I fell for a fake Clarks advert, now I want to warn others

Derek may have ‘only’ lost £29.93 to a fake Clarks advert on Facebook, but all scams take their toll, and these numbers add up. Here, he describes his experience.

This is a guest post by Derek, a member of the public. All views expressed are Derek’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.

Last month, I unfortunately joined the long list of commenters on Which? Conversation’s Clarks Shoes fake Facebook advert warning – I’d seen a Facebook Marketplace advert for ‘Clarks Outlet’ in December 2020.

Outlet stores were made famous in the USA for disposing of good quality, branded end-of-season products at heavily discounted prices. That was enough for me to believe that the advert, and the price, were genuine. Later I’d found out that, unfortunately, I’d fallen for a fake advert.

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Suspect currency conversions

I spent £29 on my Mastercard on what I thought was a pair of Clarks shoes from the Clarks Outlet. The order was never acknowledged, the payment was, but that email didn’t come from the Clarks Outlet; it came from a company based in France, which told me that the amount charged may vary from my £29 purchase instruction due to ‘currency conversion’. At this stage no company name, other than the presumed French payment-receiving-agent, had been admitted.

Alarm bells were ringing at this stage, and my credit card statement now showed a charge of £29.93 as a USD conversion. It took a while before a tracking document arrived, which did appear to be from a genuine tracking agency. However, it showed that after an initial one week delay, my order had arrived at an airport in China, and then after a further week’s delay, it had moved to Hong Kong.

And then, like so many others, I eventually received a tiny carton (way too small for a pair of shoes) via Royal Mail and showing the tracking number I’d been given for my shoe order. But, it contained a likely-fake pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses, shipped from Guangzhou, China.

Recovering my money

I asked my bank’s fraud team to investigate and recover my £29.93, but had limited faith in its energy and ability to do the right thing. However, to my surprise, the payment was frozen and it does now appear that they’ve managed to prevent the fraudulent transaction from going through.

Guide: how to get your money back after a scam

£29 may be a small amount to some people, but to others it can be huge – sometimes the difference between being able to pay the bills. I’m glad it was stopped (i.e. frozen so far), but I want to help warn others that just because an advert might be from a brand that you know and trust, you might not know “who’s really placed this ad there”.

Sadly many social media sites do not appear to offer any route for conned customers like me to be able to report these fraudsters, so I’m grateful for the opportunity to help get the word out. I’d like to see Facebook and others do far more to prevent these fake adverts from appearing in the first place, let alone prevent other innocent people from falling victim.

And when real people discover that they’ve been conned–as I was on this fake Facebook Marketplace advertisement, Facebook should make it possible (rather than impossible) to be able to feed news of these scams straight back to them via an auditable Facebook fraud-reporting process.

Hopefully my story, however small, can help others, and prevent small sums like £29.93 from adding up.

This was a guest post by Derek, a member of the public. All views expressed were Derek’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.


Comments

I started buying online many many years ago – possibly 20 years? I have used numerous sites, including ebay and have not to my recollection ever had a problem.
I always buy from British based sites, check out company details, read TrustPilot reviews etc. I don’t use Amazon as I find it difficult to differentiate between British and overseas suppliers.
I would never, in a million years, buy via a random advert whether it be on social media or a Google ad. Facebook and Google appear to have the same view – let anybody advertise, take their fees, do not vet etc.
This leaves the public open to any and every kind of scam. I also avoid “discounters”. If an offer appears to be too good to be true it usually is. Unbranded goods without guarantees from uncontactable overseas suppliers – you’ll get what you paid for?
It’s definitely possible to buy just about everything online and have a satisfactory and safe experience, but it has to done properly, with due consideration and research on the part of the buyer.

I had a bad experience with a company called Eenany, which advertised a mini saw on Facebook. Thinking this tool would be useful I placed an order. The good appeared to be coming from America as the currency was in USD but there was an automatic converter on the order page. The cost was 31 USD.

After about 3 weeks I had not received anything so I contacted the advertiser to see what had happened to my order. They took a while to reply but told me that I seemed to have received the good, which of course I hadn’t. I complained and the reply I got offered my compensation of FIVE USD. I refused their offer and warned them about online fraud. I got a reply back offering me TEN USD. Again I rejected as I wanted a full refund and eventually they came back with a FINAL offer of FIFTEEN USD.

Luckily I had paid for the item through my PayPal account and their resolution centre refunded me the whole amount but had I paid through some methods I would have lost the money altogether.