Online Advertising Scams – How to Avoid Getting Caught on Social Media

Over the past year or so there seems to have been a dramatic increase in online advertising that offers amazing items at amazing prices, but is actually a complete scam.

Imagine a shiny video ad that has all the elements of a brand new device, but is so cheap that you’re easily lured into clicking “buy” before you really analyze who’s selling and why.

A minefield on social networks

About a year ago I searched online for some new cargo shorts and a few hours later, like magic, an advert for exactly what I was looking for appeared on this popular social media site we should all stop thinking about. ‘use.

I opened the ad, looked at the promo, looked at the catalog and picked out a pair of shorts that arrived within about three months, despite the “express delivery” selection!

By then I had danced with the payment system to try and get my funds back but to no avail and had already bought another pair and left for the trip I had planned.

But when they arrived they were so poorly made it was almost funny and even though they were cheap I felt like I had been careless and was suitably annoyed with myself- same.

But lesson learned, right?


About a week ago I did it again and this time I knew immediately that I had made the same mistake.

The signs

As with any deception, the signs are not always present or easily apparent, but generally speaking these types of online fakes have a few characteristics that you might notice.

The main clue tends to be the company name which often appears to be the result of randomly entering a handful of scrabble tiles.

The names are meaningless, have no meaning in any language and are likely one of thousands of successful identities used to make sales before being banned or shut down to reappear with the same content, same bogus offers and same graphics but another bullshit name.

The text used for advertising can also be very poor English and this is another giveaway unless the company states that they are not based in an English speaking country.

Fraudulent adverts tend to give the impression that they are in the UK or US and not China (or anywhere else), but this deception is often a clue to the bigger lie (which you won’t receive not what they claim to sell).

The price is also a dead giveaway on some items.

For example, I once searched for silicone horror masks and my social media exploded with ads for amazing masks at great prices with videos that looked like a scene from Impossible mission as old men, demons, and Frankenstein’s monsters shed their faces to reveal an entirely different human beneath.

And the price was around $30 (plus shipping), so who could resist?

On this occasion, I was not tempted at all but many people fell for these false advertisements.

Knowing how silicone masks work and how much they cost, it was easy to see through this.

But plenty of people didn’t, and there’s a rich vein of pissed off Halloween fanatics who received thin, unpainted latex masks with cheap nylon hair stuck to their eyebrows or beards.

The cargo shorts I bought were around $20, so cheaper than the pair I ended up buying from a UK company, but there were some subtle differences in the pair from China.

They might fit a child, the buttons weren’t sewn where they were supposed to (and with very little thread) and the fabric wouldn’t be able to compete (in terms of quality and strength) with whatever you last blew your nose with.

They were so bad, it looked like I made them myself!

A surefire indicator that you’ve fallen for a fake ad is that after reading the website, the ad and online catalog in English (or your local language) change to Chinese characters when your purchase is complete.

That’s not to say that all Chinese companies are all scammers, but if they pose as a Western company with Western sites and then change at the last minute, you’re definitely not getting what you hoped for.

Stolen sites

Many of these tips require a bit of caution to notice, but late at night, after a few beers and a movie, it’s possible that “your truly” has recently snapped at an ad with a believable name, a funny but intriguing product. and professional graphics. , text and video.

The product appeared on my feed and, in this case, was unrelated to previous searches or interests.

It was a kitchen item that claimed to help roast a chicken in half the time with a clever method of infusing flavor using a comical, almost phallic device similar to the Beatles’ yellow submarine.

Turkey Stone
Image: TurkeyStone

It was intriguing enough to click on and from that moment I found myself watching a well-made video with top-notch graphics and a promise to send me one of the first models made.

So I clicked “BUY” with confidence (thanks, beer!) and was perfectly happy until I completed my purchase and was told my funds had been sent to a Chinese company, whose name was written in Chinese characters.

homer simpson
Image: Nicepng


Right away I knew it was all fake, so I hopped on my computer and looked up the product name, which was actually the exact name of the item they seemed to have ripped off.

Sure enough, I found their recently funded Starter with all the items that had been cleaned up and reused by the fake site, so I immediately contacted them to purchase the real deal while filing a claim with the payment system.

I lost $40 in total and will either receive an entirely different item or a bad fake in the future, but hopefully I’ll also get the item I wanted from the people who made and got them alerted to scams already sold after their crowdfunding campaign.

I don’t have much hope of getting my funds back but now I secretly hope they send me a scam.

Although, since it’s supposed to be placed in a hot oven (inside a chicken), the chances of me doing that are zero.

That said, if I get the real McCoy, I’ll be happy to report back with a side-by-side comparison.

Anyone can get caught

Seriously, that’s not just an excuse.

Not really!

We cannot be vigilant every second of every day and when beer, wine or whiskey is a factor, our judgment can be easily swayed.

That being said, allow me a few words in my own defence: the name of the store was made up of two English words that actually went together, so that particular tip didn’t exist and the click to the site revealed a presentation professional in perfect English, so the advice of “bad English” was also absent.

The real lesson (for me) is to never buy anything advertised on a social media site, as these platforms allow far too many blatantly false advertisements to reach their users and offer little or no protection before or after that people fall for these scams.

Of course, I made this same resolution over a year ago when I received my comic cargo shorts, but I managed to completely forget about it in the cold light of my phone and the wee hours of the morning.