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.
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.
£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?.