ALERT! – Fake Costco Coupon, Facebook Ad Scam
According to Costco the fake coupon is not new and has has made a return on social media. Facebook posts are tricking viewers to click on a link to a website not connected to Costco. Cyber criminals are enticing victims to surrender personal information in return for the fake coupon.
“Despite several posts out there, Costco is NOT giving away $75 coupons,” the company said in a Facebook post on November 12. “While we love our fans and our members, this offer is a SCAM, and in no way affiliated with Costco. Thanks to our fans for letting us know about this recurring hoax!”
As the holiday season begins to kick off Costco isn’t the only retailer being used to perpetrate a scam. Scammers love to use the name of retailers who who are both popular but rarely, if ever, offer coupons or cash discounts.
According to scam expert Steve Weisman, some scam artists will ask for your credit card number. Scammers will also encourage the victim to share the coupon on their own social media feeds, “which makes the phony coupons look more legitimate when they are received by your friends,” Weisman said on his blog, Scamicide. But at the end of the day, “The coupons are worthless and you get nothing but the opportunity to become a victim of identity theft.”
Facebook is being used by scammers to push products that they don’t own. Scammers work by finding interesting or popular products from crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo. They then steal the item’s details, photos, and videos and market them as their own using Facebook ads. Victims who purchase the products are often ripped off by not receiving the product or getting a cheap knock-off version.
Experts are warning Facebook users to adhere to the rule of; “If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is.” Many of the products advertised by these scammers are offered at incredible discounts.
The scam is extremely hard to spot because it uses authentic images and video from the real website. In addition there are literally thousands of theses scam ads on Facebook.
Another issue with this scam is that Facebook may not be helping to fight the crime. While Facebook’s advertising policies strictly prohibits ads that promote “products, services, schemes or offers using deceptive or misleading practices, including those meant to scam people out of money or personal information”. But actually getting Facebook to take action maybe tricky.
According to some users they have tried to report the scam to Facebook. They report that Facebook has done very little and many of the scam ads are still running on the platform. Users reported getting generic responses from Facebook that say that the ad does not violate “community standards.” But others have been able to report the ads and comment on pages.
Facebook launched their Ad Activity Tab last year to combat just such activity on its platform. The tool encourages users to provide feedback about ads and pages in order to root out bad actors. However, this specific scam prevention tool isn’t proactive and user may already be victims of the fraud before reporting it.
The bottom line is be careful when buying online and from merchants you know nothing about. Avoid prices that are just too good. Research the retailer and product. Buy from reputable merchants and use your credit card not your debit card online.
Here are a few websites you can use to check if a merchant and website is legitimate.