In honor of my Caught Dead in Wyoming mystery series, my assistant Kay Coyte is writing for my newsletter and blog a series of consumer tips inspired by TV reporter Elizabeth Danniher.
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Do you ever wonder about what really happens when someone clones your Facebook account and sends out annoying friend requests in your name? Well, here’s one example.
On a Facebook page of a man sports enthusiast, community ambassador, college booster and all-around great guy(4.600+ friends), I was sad to see the spam ad shown below. This man died in late 2018 and this ad was the post below one about a road named in his honor. Surely the person who posted this had no idea what it was. In fact, I’m betting it was a cloned account request that the man accidentally accepted.
Disreputable e-commerce sites can get you by failing to deliver on goods or by delivering goods that don’t begin to resemble what was advertised. Other sites are made just to load your PC or laptop with malware or phish you for private information.
I didn’t check all these sites, but most of them are fake. Note: Don’t go there! I started by googling the letters before .com and that was enough to see several red flags.
PC World’s JD Sartain in June reported on the issue of fake commerce websites in the article, “Who owns that shady website? These tools provide the details“. Some of the advice, such how to search via the nonprofit agency ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) and other databases, is geared to the tech-savvy. But there’s some good, practical information here, too.
One of her recommended fraud detection websites is Scam Detector, a free service that bills itself as “the largest fraud prevention resource in the world.” If you want to see thousands of examples of how people are bilked by buying cheap goods online just read the comments at the end of Spam Detector’s list of scamming websites. Strangely, Scam Detector advisers often are asked where one can buy fake designer clothes online. They don’t provide such information, and I have little sympathy for those folks who want to wear (or re-sell) counterfeit goods.
But back to that Facebook ad, and likely ads that show up when you are browsing legitimate websites. One URL verification website I found, confirmed by the PC World report, was FakeiNet.com. I liked the simplicity of its site and the convenient, free Spam Finder prompt in the upper right of all its pages. FakeiNet also chronicles the latest spam e-commerce trends, including images of ads you’ve likely seen (adidas shoes, Nikon cameras, Ray-Bans, etc.).
Bottom line: One, be safe out there. Two, you get what you pay for.