Insta-scammed: BBB warns of increase in scam activity on social media platforms

PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – As more people take to social media to buy and sell products, there has been an increase in scam activity on social media platforms.

According to the Better Business Bureau, online purchase scams accounted for 24% of all scam complaints in 2019.

“We do get a lot of reports of phony social media ads that lead to fraudulent websites,” said Danielle Kane, a spokesperson for the Better Business Bureau.

In 2019 alone, the BBB received more than 9,000 complaints about online purchase scams, for a total of more than $4.2 million in losses.

In Oregon, customers reported more than $36,000 in losses.

Heather Lee Owens said she became a victim after making what she thought was an innocent post on Instagram.

Owens said what appeared to be a business commented on that post, saying if she bought something from them, she’d get a discount and a mention on the business’ website.

She bought a $17 necklace, but after a couple weeks passed, the item never arrived, and although she called a number listed on the website, sent the company an email, and sent messages on the company’s Instagram account, the problem went unresolved.

“That’s when I realized that it was actually just a computer robot messaging you back,” said Lee Owens.

The Better Business Bureau recommends anyone looking to make a purchase from an online seller closely scrutinize the website, and pay with a credit card, if possible.

“You can contact the bank and dispute the charge if you never got the product. If it’s a counterfeit product, you can still try and dispute the charge,” said Kane.

Instagram did not respond to requests for comment, but on its website, the company said it recently started working with a third party vendor to spot and flag fake posts.

Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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