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Online shopping scams target shoppers and businesses

Better Business Bureau out with ways to shop and sell smart
FactFinder 12 Investigators: Don't Fall For It
FactFinder 12 Investigators: Don't Fall For It(kwch)
Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 5:31 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The Better Business Bureau says online shopping scams continue to increase in number across the globe and they’re affecting businesses as well as shoppers.

The BBB released a study on Friday projecting more than eight million dollars will be lost to online shopping scams in 2021. Some shoppers will receive cheap knock-offs of the items they believe they’re ordering, other may receive nothing at all.

The BBB says many of these scams originate in China. The fake companies place adds on sites like Facebook, Instagram and other social media hoping to catch the eye of potential victims. Often the eye catching photos and videos of the products are genuine, but stolen from the sites of legitimate sellers. Denise Groene with the BBB says shoppers should do their research on a company before placing their order.

“Our study found that 70% of consumers who fell victim to these fake businesses found them through social media,” Groene said. “You have to understand as a consumer when you’re on social media, that scammers do use paid advertising to lure you in to buy fake products.”

Groene suggests doing a Google reverse image search using pictures of products found in ads before ordering from a company. If the image pops up on several sites, she says that’s a major red flag.

The BBB study shows that maybe the bigger victims in these types of scams are the legitimate sellers who have their reputations damaged and their hard work stolen.

“From what we’re hearing from businesses, it’s very challenging to get these fake ads taken down. Once a scammer does utilize those images. It really becomes very time consuming and kind of a cat and mouse game where they may take it down but then they may put another ad up there using that legitimate business’ items,” Groene explained.

The study lists examples of small businesses whose images were used in fake ads, where the business owners discovered their images were not just used in one fake ad but sometimes in hundreds of them. Each ad has to be flagged and reported individually, so successfully getting them all taken down can be never-ending.

The BBB suggests sellers heavily watermark the images used in their ads and on their sites so that any potential buyers responding to a fake ad can see where the image actually came from.

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