I’m usually quite cautious about most things, especially buying on the Internet. But one late evening, in a moment of weakness while scrolling through Instagram, I will admit that the scamming trolls got me! Almost.
It was an average late evening while watching Instagram stories that an advert popped up in between. A Ray-Ban advert for a flash sale of up to 90% off sunnies. Looking back now, of course that seems ridiculous. But don’t judge. I think it was a combination of deliriousness and the fact that the Internet somehow knew I had been on a hunt for exactly that: Ray-Ban sunglasses. Besides that, with online stores like Wish and Joom, the 90% didn’t seem that far fetched.
I sat up in my bed and clicked on the link to the website. And there it was! Hundreds of Ray-Ban designs at 90 to 97 percent off. Yes, I know, the penny still hadn’t dropped yet! But I’ve already told you the end of the story so you have to imagine this in the moment when everything seems perfectly normal, and frankly a great deal I could be potentially gaining in on. I scroll through a couple of designs and even search the website to confirm it’s legitimacy (a warning from my half asleep sister, who I woke up in excitement.) The site offered free delivery if you ordered 4 of more pairs of sunglasses. This was great! A pair of sunglasses for my whole family. In one last final attempt to make absolute sure the site was creditable I decided to proceed to the checkout to see if the sale prices shown where actually going to appear on the final price. But in order to do this I had to fill in my details. Without thinking I quickly (automated) filled in a few of my details. I specifically remember choosing the option that said ‘One-time customer, do not create account’. (I’m paraphrasing, but you get the point). Finally at the checkout, everything did just that. It checks out.
To make one final, final check, I exit out of the site, and click on my Google to search for Ray-Ban and click on to the site. A completely different website. One with without a 90% sale or buy 4 for free delivery. A website that I had become quite familiar with, and now as the mud began to clear from my eyes I realized that I had just been scammed.
Still in disbelief that I had fallen so hard for this ‘amazing flash sale of up to 97%, I started typing: Ray-Ban sca… and before I could even finish the words, Google suggested exactly what I didn’t want to see. There it was. Hundreds of pages of websites warning against this very same Ray-Ban scam that happens all over the world. And in that moment I was SHOOK! I couldn’t believe I had fallen for something that, at the time was like the perfect opportunity as if aligned by God himself, but now seemed so obviously a scam.
Now, in that moment where I just wanted to kick myself, I went back to the fake Ray-Ban website to see where could I have missed all the signs. Only now, I’m signed in. And there’s a password I didn’t create, and an entire profile I didn’t fill in. Luckily I hadn’t gone so far as to fill in any credit card details, but now these scammers had my name, address, telephone number, email and blood type. Not really, but basically. If I wasn’t fully awake earlier, I was now! As there wasn’t an option to delete the account, I decided to edit my details with the most amount of gibberish on the planet. I didn’t even create a fake name, because I didn’t want the chances of a Rebecca Noodle in QuQu to suddenly get an email notification. These scammers didn’t deserve to win.
All crisis avoided, and my heart rate normalized, I continued looking at this fake website. And here are a few lessoned learned:
- Sometimes for these scammers English is not their first language so there can be tiny grammatical errors. And when I say tiny, I mean I had to read majority of the About Us page before I noticed anything.
- These fake websites don’t own their own domains. So when you first click on the link the URL at the top will have another name and then you will be redirected to the intended page. This is because they sometimes use domains that are no longer in use.
- There are no return policies or no refunds allowed. I read a few stories online where people had ordered through one of these fake Ray-Ban websites (there’s more than one) and when their order arrived, it was a complete counterfeit and then there’s nothing you can do.
- There is no contact number or address. A small feature you can completely miss.
- The layout is slightly… odd. Not as professional and stylish as you’d expect from such a high-end brand, but also not like child’s play. The scammers really work meticulous to replicate the original website.
Moral of the story: Stay woke!!
Have you had any experiences being scammed online? Share your thoughts in the comments below.