Facebook Appears To Be Promoting Scam Tech Gear Ads For Holiday Shopping Season

Buyer beware, it has come to our attention that there are several websites advertised on Facebook that are scamming people into paying for merchandise that they will never receive. These scams appear to have started to show up about a month ago on Facebook, and there have been hundreds of comments from people reporting on various websites that they have bought into one of these scams and never received the intended merchandise.

BTMD Monitor Scam

The advertisement that brought these scams to our attention is hosted by an online retailer called BTMD Online, which claims to offer a high-end curved display for the low price of $69.98. At first, we assumed that this would likely be some sort of bait-and-switch deal, or a low-quality Chinese knockoff, but it turned out to be Massdrops's $549.99 Vast 35" Curved 3440x1440 display. As this was clearly too good of a deal to be true, we opted to research the retailer a bit further. Low-and-behold we found a rash of reports about several advertised websites on Facebook defrauding people out of their hard earned cash.

Through one source, we found a list of more than 100 websites that are rumored to be involved in these scams and over 300 reports by individual people stating that they had either saw these false advertisements on Facebook or had been tricked into buying into them. We found the retailer we had been searching for on the list, but with a different URL. The display we originally saw was hosted on www.btmd.online, but instead we see the same retailer with the domain btmd.myshopify.com, which has shut down since this list was published on December 11.

A website called Shopify.com appears to be closely linked to these scams, as several of these scams have myshopify as part of their domain names. A Reddit page dedicated to Shopify makes this abundantly clear, as there are several threads open that discuss fraud schemes, suspicious websites, and the sell of pirated materials.

3-in-1 3D Printer Scam
The reports shown on the source listed above, as well as additional reports posted on Trustpilot, indicate that these fraud schemes are not limited to tech products either. In addition to the display and a 3D printer, people have reported seeing products ranging from electric scooters to cookware. It also appears that many of these sites do not remain in operation long. Several of the shown of the list have already shutdown, and the www.btmd.online site we searched for earlier shows as being active for just one days.

Shopify Scam

Although we have not purchased anything from these sites and we cannot confirm with complete certainty that these are in fact scams, the large number of reports and suspicious nature of these websites and deals leave us concerned enough that we felt justified to write this PSA.

These scams are particularly dangerous at this time of year, when people everywhere are trying to stretch their financial resources and secure the best gifts possible for their friends and family. It also is unsettling that these schemes are being advertised by Facebook. Facebook reportedly reviews all ads to ensure that they are legitimate and don't mislead or pose a hazard to Facebook users before they are published. This has been a practice of Facebook for a long time, and gives many a sense that the ads are safe despite the strong evidence to the contrary.

If you are unsure a retailer suggested to you on Facebook is safe to use, here are a few things that you can check to help check if the site is legitimate. First, you should search the retailer's name and domain to see if there have been any concerning reports posted about them. Every retailer including Amazon will have a few critical reviews, but if there is a substantial number of negative reviews then you should probably shop elsewhere.

You should also check to see how long the website has been online. There are several websites that have tools to do this, which is how we were able to know that the www.btmd.online webpage has just been open for one day. Although there will be some new and legit retail websites that have just been open for a short time, many sites that are just a few days old should be be carefully scrutinized. If in doubt, take your business to a site that has been up and running longer.

We should also warn you against buying from any retailer that has the following contact information:
2.27 Romer House Lewisham High Street, London, England, SE13 6EE
Googling this contact information will return a list of numerous sites that all use the same information on their store contact page. Not only is this not a legitimate address, as Google Maps is unable to find the location when searching, the phone number is also not a real phone number and cannot be dialed. Any sites you see that share this contact information are not to be trusted.

As the Christmas holiday draws closer, be careful not to get pulled into any of these scams. And if you still need to get some holiday shopping done, stick to safe and reliable retailers that you know, even if the deal they offer isn't quite as good as what's shown on Facebook.