Beware of IG shopping scams

Aug 16 2022.

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Alert everyone you know. Instagram boutiques that are run by fraudulent individuals are on the rise! They are on a roll by instaScamming customers, and the complaints raised against these business pages are circulating on social media. While there are many genuine and cool insta shopping experiences, some Instagram boutiques are caught red-handed selling fake products with huge price hikes or caught cheating customers by accepting payments and blocking them. Ripped-off consumers are sharing conversations made with the said Instagram business on social media saying, “Beware of this … Instagram page.” Such fraudulent Instagram businesses are notorious for stealing product images from other legit businesses and posting them as their own. Customers who are unaware of the legitimacy of the said brand will tend to proceed with their purchases only to be scammed and ripped off with no product in sight. 

Imagine the horror when online shoppers who are willing to spend their valued money on products that interest them or aspire to buy branded high-quality goods, receive fake, low-quality items, or in worst cases, are unavailable to even trace the business. *Sweeni was expecting high-quality branded exclusive makeup products when she paid nearly Rs.30,000 to an online-based Instagram boutique, but Sweeni received replicas and duplicates of the brands which arrived with no barcodes. Some of the items were damaged and not in usable condition. Since she shared her incident on social media, many people had responded to her post and the replies are filled with people who have faced similar fraudulent activities of this same business via Instagram. 

When *Sweeni confronted the said business page which she made purchases from, the ‘seller’ responded by justifying that “the products will not be able to find elsewhere.” Sweeni also stated that she exchanged DM’s with another disappointed customer who had been faced with this same scenario after allegedly paying a sum of Rs.80,000 on the trust of purchasing authentic genuine products. On the boutique’s Instagram page, all posts have their comments disabled and the items they’re selling seem to be images taken from branded websites rather than product images from the local seller. The page boasts a “Grand collection of authentic beauty products” and all of the products are described as “branded” and displays logos of high-end brands like Estee Lauder, Huda Beauty, Bobby Brown, and Yves Saint Laurent. 

Anytime you see Instagram pages showcasing products with comments disabled, simply means trouble. Creating a profile with a name of a new business or venture, then uploading images of products sourced from branded legit websites while proceeding with conversations with interested potential customers. Behind all of this is likely a misleading individual or group of scammers working towards deceiving customers and then taking their money after purchases. These sorts of Instagram scams have seen a significant increase during the pandemic.  Here are a few ways to spot a possible fraudulent Instagram business. 

Keep an eye on the interactions
It is possible that scammers can purchase Instagram accounts that have thousands of followers or buy followers from various sites. To spot this one can identify by seeing that these paid followers do not interact with the posts by liking, commenting, or viewing any videos if any. If the page has thousands of followers yet the interactions are fairly few, it is quite possible that that page is fake. By taking a look at the followers, you can identify that these fake followers will have longer usernames and no posts on their respective pages. A fraudulent user can also delete comments made on their posts as a means of hiding negative comments and or complaints made to them. When you view a post and it shows 5 comments, but once you click on it, shows only 2 comments means the rest have been deleted. On the other hand, disabling comments entirely on all posts means, the scammer does not want people commenting with complaints on their fraudulent activities. 

Identifying the business name and its legitimacy
Instagram allows users to inquire about the previous names a business page has had and the date of creation of the page. If this has changed more than two times within a brief period, it is surely suspicious. To see this, the user needs to enter the desired Instagram business page and click on the top right corner menu dots and choose “About this account”, there you’ll be able to see the date of account creation and the frequency of the name changes. 

Finding out the source of the images
With the mighty power of Google, users can now track any image to find out where it was sourced from. To do this, you must have the image saved from the Instagram boutique to verify this. The user can go forth with this from the PC or any smartphone device. The user can simply take a screenshot of the required image, access the Google search engine, and assess if the image was taken from any other site that doesn’t belong to the said business page.  By following these steps and identifying that the Instagram page is fake, the important thing to do is report the page by clicking on the “spam” option. This way Instagram has a record of the accounts that are potentially fake.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Fazmina Samat

Wifey. Mommy. Daughter. Sister. Ice cream. Movies. Date nights. Bookaholic. Foodie.

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