Fake sales ads trick customers into losing money


There are ads for all kinds of products on social media. Some are legit. Others are just a setup for thieves to take your money. Our KPRC 2 Investigates team explains how to spot the difference and how some people are tricked.

“It showed her riding the scooter around the house and then outside,” Alvin resident Donna Dobberstine said.

A good deal on a scooter was exactly what Donna Dobberstine was looking for.

“It was advertised for $99.99,” she said. “I decided to go ahead and do it.”

Weeks later, when she had heard nothing, she sought to find out where her PayPal payment had actually been sent.

“I googled the name and it is an individual. And of course that raised a big red flag on me,” Dobberstine said.

There was no scooter and his money was gone.

If the sale ad sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Jennifer Salazar from Better Business Bureau tells us that scooters and other medical equipment are common items that thieves use in fake advertisements. The first warning sign is a super cheap price.

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“I know we’re all looking for a deal, especially these days. But there’s a reason behind it,” Salazar said.

Salazar says if you see an ad, find the actual company and call them to see if the deal really exists.

Never enter your health insurance information on a sales ad or website

Never enter your health insurance information into any type of sales ad or website. Some of these fake advertisements may ask you for your personal information in order to take advantage of the offer.

“It could say like for more information or to redeem a coupon or something, enter your information here,” she explains.

Thieves can use your health insurance number to collect fake payments. Keep in mind that medical equipment may be something you can get for free anyway.

“A scooter could be durable medical equipment. Sometimes Medicare can pay for that if you get it prescribed by your doctor,” Salazar said.

(You can contact your doctor to see if you qualify and request a prescription for durable medical equipment.) Dobberstine hopes sharing her story will prevent another unsuspecting person from falling victim.

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“There are a lot of older people with disabilities, and they don’t have a lot of money, so it may seem like a good deal to them too,” Dobberstine said.

We helped Dobberstine find the right people at PayPal, and she was able to get her money back. You’re more likely to get a refund on something like this if you use PayPal or a credit card for the purchase.

The Better Business Bureau has an education program to help teach people how to avoid scams. The BBB often visits communities to hold classes on various topics. You can request a presentation or volunteer, to help raise awareness of the ever-changing ways thieves try to trick us!

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