The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Online shopping has grown in popularity due to COVID, laziness and convenience. However, I don’t usually shop online because I’m afraid of getting scammed…so I decided to go out on a limb…and then I got scammed. Ironic. Let me set the scene for you. I’m scrolling on the internet looking for shoes, and of course I get tracked by cookies, and in no time, my Instagram is filled with shoe ads. This one particular ad from, “AllStarRelease,” pops out to me exclaiming, “Jordan 1 reverse mochas shoe raffle,” so I mindlessly enter, and the next day the user messages me to tell me I won. Of course, I check their profile to make sure they’re legit and unfortunately they check all my boxes. They have an address, an email, a website, real-life user interactions, and 22,000 followers. Hook, line, sinker. I Apple Pay them the money, and in 5 minutes they ghost me!! Tragic.
After the fact, I realized what I did wrong, so here is a list to ensure that you don’t get scammed like me!
- Check their follower’s profiles
Yes, this task is very tedious, but from far away, a profile can seem very legit because they look like a real person. However, in 1 minute you can tell if they’re a bot by how recent the account was made, how many followers they have, and if they have a profile picture. If they have no profile, have 2 followers, and have a link in their bio stating, “click here to win $2,000,” they’re fake! However, some profiles are better at hiding their fraudulence so beware!
- Click their address
The account had an address in their bio so it looked legit to me, but I foolishly never clicked it before I sent them money. After the fact, I clicked the link, and their “store location,” was in a parking lot…So yeah, make sure to check the address of the store before you buy anything.
- Follower amount
Of course small accounts with 5 followers is easy to dismiss, but when I saw the account had 22,000 followers I felt very safe. How could 22,000 people mislead me? Wrong! Although a lot of the accounts were real, when I looked back again, a lot of them were bots or new accounts…probably bought followers.
- Fact-check their email
After they didn’t send me my USPS tracking number, I messaged their email that was connected to their profile…I was still in denial. After writing a long and lengthy complaint, I clicked “send” and my email immediately got bounced back due to, “non-existent email.” Of course the email was fake!!
- Deadline pressure
Once I started messaging the user, they kept telling me there was a deadline which really rushed me. I got into a stressful mental state because I really wanted the shoes because I “won” the raffle which made me look past my better judgement. If an online seller is pressuring you with an impending deadline, something may be up with the legitimacy of their business!
Once I realized I was scammed, I blocked AllStarRelease, their phone number, and I reported them on Instagram, to my bank, and to the FTC. The FTC does investigations on scammers, and although they won’t get your money back, it helps people in the future. I also reported their account to the police, but due to VPNS and shady IP addresses, it is extremely hard to locate scammers.
Although I learned a very expensive lesson, I now know to be more protective and cautious when online shopping because chances are, you won’t get it back if it’s fraudulent. So next time you see an Instagram ad with a deal you can’t resist, make sure the profile is legit before you buy from them. Be careful out there and don’t be a scammer’s next easy victim!