In the previous blog post I provided information on how to tell if a website is fake, fraudulent, or a scam. I hope you will put that information to good use and not have to learn the hard way like I did.
May 18th, 2017 – Thursday Morning
When you start your commute to work with minimal traffic, you already know it’s going to be a good day. I drove with my windows down and let the wind and the crazy sounds of the highway twirl and dance along with the radio. “Today is going to be a great day,” I thought to myself as I made my exit and the wind continued to dance as Elvis sang to me through my speakers.
I reached the office early enough to make myself a cup of coffee, munch on some breakfast, and scroll through Facebook. As I scrolled and sipped, I saw the usual Facebook feed: ungodly amounts of memes, happy birthday posts, and politics. Everything I dislike about Facebook had swamped my News Feed that morning, but I continued scrolling with hopes something would grab my attention; and I wasn’t wrong.
My eyes became affixed on an advertisement for a 24 Hour Flash Sale for the most amazing pair of shoes! Two words: Elvis sneakers. The Converse styled sneakers had iconic pictures of Elvis’ on them, and were being advertised for 80% off! It was a deal I knew I couldn’t pass up. I quickly pulled my debit card and typed in my information as fast as I could.
The amount of excitement I felt after confirming my purchase had me shakin’ like a leaf on a tree. My wildest dreams were coming true that morning and not even the fluorescent lights of the office could dull what I felt. The sneakers even included an Elvis coffee mug and a tracking number.
Fast forward a few weeks and the thought of wearing those sneakers were always on my mind. I was planning outfits in my head for them, checking my mailbox multiple times a day, and thinking about whether or not I was really going to wear them, or let them sit among my other Elvis collectibles.
My excitement began to turn into frustration though because I never received the tracking number, although I did receive an email confirming my package was on its way. Their website appeared professional and put-together. The word “scam” never even crossed my mind. I shot them an email and impatiently waited for a response. Their website promised to return all missed calls and emails within 24 hours so I was content with waiting until tomorrow to get my tracking number.
A week later, and I had still not received an email back from them, so I decided to call them. The phone rang twice then was answered by an automated machine, “We’re sorry we could not accept your call at this time. All members are assisting other customers.”
Weeks passed and the number of emails and calls I made to them piled up. They quickly became the first number on my recent calls list and remained charted at number one for another month. My anger swelled and hopes of ever receiving the sneakers began to dwindle. I kept telling myself they got lost in the mail and would show up on a day I really needed them. I refused to entertain any other options.
I visited their site for the last time a few days ago when I was greeted with a message that the site was under construction and would be up again at an undetermined date. They provided an option to email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more, but I knew better.
I whined to my sister for the millionth time about how I had still not received them, and if it weren’t for her brutal honesty and investigative skills, I’d still be holding on to false hope of my Elvis sneakers until I breathed my last breath.
Without blinking, my sister got to typing away on her phone and within minutes started reading me reviews of other victims who had fallen for the scam. I was miserable, but was comforted by the thought of not being the only one. It has taken me days to cycle through disbelief, anger, and entertain the thought of revenge, to finally come full circle and start to heal. I blindly fell for a fraudulent website, provided them with my credit card information, and let them hold my heart in their hands while I patiently waited for my beloved Elvis sneakers.
My pride took a hard hit that night, and I am still coping with the anger and trying to come to terms with the reality that I will never see those sneakers. It was a deal too good to be true, and I wish I had known what signs to look for.
After hearing hundreds of other people say they too were victims of this scam, I began my own investigation into exactly what made Laid Back Loot NOT a trustworthy site. To me, and everyone else who made purchases through the site thought it looked legitimate.
I followed through normal protocol for checking the legitimacy of a website and was surprised at what I found.
The first thing that I reaffirmed was that there was contact information, a return policy, and not an overabundance of ads. Everything checked out. Not only that, but their URL contained HTTPS, which meant any information I shared with the website, like my credit card and mailing information, was encrypted and could not be intercepted or read by anyone but me and Laid Back Loot.
Next, I re-read the reviews and sympathized with others who had been scammed to help keep my passion burning. I checked Scam Advisor for an overview of Laid Back Loot’s website. The results are below:
The big red box wasn’t enough for me. My pride was still hurting because I knew I was better than falling for a site like this, and I still couldn’t shake the thought of never seeing those sneakers.
I dug deeper and looked at who issued their certificates and found someone called Let’s Encrypt. Now the strange thing is that I have been hearing more and more of Let’s Encrypt’s reputation being questioned for providing fraudulent sites with certificates; but we’ll get into that in the next article.
Throughout this endeavor, I’ve concluded that Scam Advisor’s tools are unmatched and would’ve saved me a lot of time and trouble if I would’ve just checked with them first. Before I bid you farewell and you enter the world of scrolling through Facebook and other social media apps and come across things you think you can’t live without,do your research before getting your hopes up.
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