‘Too good to be true’: The FBI has tips to protect Cyber Monday shoppers from scammers

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – An estimated 75 percent of us will do at least some of our holiday shopping online but just before you browse the sales, be aware that scammers are out in force attempting to turn Cyber Monday into cybercrime.

The Utah Better Business Bureau website has a Scam Tracker listing stories from fraud victims. A person from Wyoming describes buying a “realistic toy dog” from a pop-up ad only to receive a mass-produced plush toy from China, stating “I paid $29.98 for a stuffed small dog of less value than a carnival prize.”

That person was lucky compared to a couple from Idaho who describes paying $1100 for a puppy for their 16-year-old son. The pug never arrived and their money is gone for good.

“If something seems too good to be true, it probably is,” Special Agent Casey Harrington of the FBI Cyber Task Force said. “If it’s an unrealistic price then it’s probably not legitimate.”

Special Agent Harrington says scammers prey on bargain seekers with realistic-looking websites that might be just one digit away from the web address of a legitimate site.

“Make sure you’re looking at who sent you the email, where the links are actually taking you if you do click on a link,” Agent Harrington told ABC4 News. “Make sure the address in your browser matches the website you think you’re at.”

The Better Business Bureau recommends watching out for those phony websites and only shopping with trustworthy sellers on secure sites. They say to price check before you buy anything and use your credit card which can stop or refund fraudulent payments easier than debit or gift cards. 
Agent Harrington adds don’t let your guard down after the holidays have passed.

“Make sure to check your credit card statements in January and February because it may not be reflected until then so make sure you’re going through and analyzing your statements next year,” he said. “We also recommend maybe setting up alerts so that when certain purchases are made you get alerted and can know quickly when things are hitting your credit card.”

As for tracking down these scammers and bringing them to justice, Special Agent Harrington says it’s difficult because most are operating overseas.

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