This scam is almost too bizarre to be believed, but it’s really happening to holiday gift givers.

Who Is It Targeting: Consumers looking for great deals on holiday gift items

What Is It: A bait-and-switch scam where the product you bought online isn’t what arrives.

What Are They After: This scam actually happened to shoppers in another country, but it still serves as a warning to US consumers about how low scammers are willing to sink to steal your money. This scam is bizarre in that the thief went to a lot of trouble to make his victims think they were buying a flat screen television; he went so far as to construct a fake TV out of plywood and black plastic sheeting, apparently lacking the know-how to just cut and paste pictures of a television off of other websites and pretend they were his.

What really serves as a warning, though, is the fact that the sale was advertised through a popular Facebook group. Just because you think you know people on social media doesn’t mean they’re genuine. Our social media connections can become lifelong friendships, but at the end of the day, they are still strangers.

How Can You Avoid It:

  • “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” This is especially true when you’re offered a high-priced piece of electronics for pennies on the dollar.
  • Limit your online shopping to trusted retail websites or auction sites that offer a measure of protection for their users.
  • Make sure your payment method is secured as well.

If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530.

Find more current scams and alerts here.

For full details of this scam check out this article from Coconuts Manila.