(WSPA) — We all like a good deal, but sometimes that search can lead you down a dark road on the internet. Many shoppers are finding scam retail sites are becoming more deceptive than ever.
How you can spot a fake, in this 7News Consumer Exclusive: No product, no refund.
Not long ago, the going advice when buying online was to check for things like that trustworthy lock next to the web address.
Dawn Hansen found out the hard way that security is no longer foolproof.
BOGUS SITE HAD A LOCK IN URL
“It had all the check boxes to make it seem like it was legit,” said Hansen, referring to a site her 11-year-old son had found online.
Hansen says he had come across deal on a virtual headset that’s normally $399. At Antowor.com, it was one-fourth that, and he got excited.
“He was saving his money for mowing from Grandpa, and he came across one and it was $90 online, and everything on the site looked legit, it had refund policies, it said it was a secure site, an address, email to email them, all those kinds of things,” she said.
ADS ON REAL SITES CAN TAKE YOU TO FAKE RETAILERS
Shannon Aldana said she started on a legitimate site.
“I went to Best Buy and put in Samsung tablets,” said Aldana.
She said she saw cheaper offers in the “other retailers” section, which is how she helped her friend find a $96 dollar tablet, also on Antowor.com.
The checkout page even said, “secure payments.”
At $300 off, it would have been “amazing deal” as advertised on the site, that is, if it had ever shown up.
“I emailed them, called them, and left a review. They never contacted me back and the review disappeared,” said Aldana.
HOW TO SPOT A FAKE
A closer look turns up some major red flags.
Every product is in the $90 range, whether it’s a grill or a flat screen TV.
And the “About” section mentioned only beach towels but there are none for sale.
Then there’s the retailer’s Fountain Inn address, on Laughingtree Court.
7News visited the address and it turned out to be a home. The owner was understandably alarmed.
“How did they get my address, that’s scary,” said Carl Putnam, the home’s owner.
MORE FAKE SITES KEEP POPPING UP, MANY CONNECTED
Vee Daniel, president of the Better Business Bureau, said the scariest thing is that it’s one of 14 retail sites that appear to be connected.
They may sell different items from tires to purses to electronics, but all have well below market prices, the same web host, and identical “about section” language. Again on a product none sell: towels. Towels that, oddly enough, the site said are “absorbent without hair loss.”
“This one is definitely more than anything we’ve seen before. And I’m sure that that’s just a start, I would think that since they are changing the products out, they are probably opening more sites,” said Daniel.
And the BBB said, stealing photos, too.
In the attached video you can see an example of a Schwinn stationary bike listed for only $88 down from $650. That price is a red flag in and of itself.
To figure out where else the photo is on the internet, just right click on the photo to do a “Google Lens” search, and it shows the photo was taken from legitimate retailers still offering it for the $600 price range.
The confirmation emails that came to Aldana were comfort for only a few days.
ALWAYS PAY WITH CREDIT CARD NOT DEBIT
“If it’s too good to be true it’s probably going to be a scam. And if you do go ahead and do it anyway, always make sure you use your credit card. Because for her they automatically reversed the charges, and she’s good to go,” said Aldana.
Unfortunately, Hansen had used a debit card and is now out her money.
“It’s awful, it’s an 11-year-old kid who worked hard for his money, and you know you’re trying to teach him values to earn your money to pay for things like that, and it’s just, it’s sad,” said Hansen.
Hansen also had to change her debit card, since the scammers had that number.
7News and the BBB have reported these sites to the host. Antowor has been taken down, but new sites are popping up all the time, so buyer beware.