If you happened to be surfing Facebook recently, you might have seen an ad for a garden shed that could usually sell for around $800 offered for just $66.99.
There was also an ad for a lawnmower that usually sold for $500 for just $99.
Both ads claimed to belong to Lowe’s, the home improvement store, but when contacted by CTV News, Lowe’s Canada said both ads were fake.
In a statement, Valerie Gonzalo, Media Relations Manager at Lowe’s Canada, said: “Lowe’s Canada confirms that this is a fraudulent Facebook post. Unfortunately, these types of posts are misleading for the consumer and we always take care to report them to our internal teams in order to block them. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
CTV News also contacted Facebook and a spokesperson for Meta, Facebook’s parent company, said, “We have reviewed the pages and they have been removed for violating our policies. We have various systems in place that help us detect and eliminate suspicious activity before it is reported. This is an ongoing effort that we are committed to continually improving over time. »
Online shopping has more than doubled in the past two years during the pandemic, as many people have shopped from home, and according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), there has been an increase in the number of people who say they lost money buying items. through social media ads.
“There has certainly been an increase in fraudulent advertisements since the start of the pandemic, but they have always existed,” said Janita Pannu, founder of OPIA Inc., a company that monitors social media.
Pannu said some ads are outright fake while others promise more than they deliver.
“There are scenarios where customers are paying for a product that never shows up or is very low quality compared to what they saw online,” Pannu said.
This is especially true for clothes that may appear as a luxury brand in an advertisement, but arrive as a cheap imitation.
The BBB said consumers should be careful when shopping for clothing and accessories because not everything you see online will look as good when you receive it.
According to the BBB, beware of advertisements on social media selling products that claim to support charities, offer free trial offers, sell counterfeit products, or use apps and websites of unknown origin.
“You just want to make sure they have clear shipping and return policies and if they don’t have it on their website, that may be a red flag and something to avoid,” Pannu said.
If you’re tempted to buy a product through a social media site, do some research first. Try a Google search of the product and company name with the words complaints, reviews or scams and see what pops up as what you find may help you make your decision.
And if you see a price that seems too good to be true, it probably is.