Wedding Scammers on Facebook – buyer beware – how to avoid being scammed

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wedding scammers on facebookThere are a LOT of fake Facebook accounts featuring bogus wedding vendors who have stolen pictures and have fake items for sale posted on their pages. The creators of these fake accounts join wedding groups and forums and approach vulnerable brides looking for bargains. They take the money (mainly via bank transfer) and then the bride never hears from them again! The bride is left out of pocket as well as being stuck for a replacement due to time limits.

A Facebook group exists to name and shame these fake wedding scammers.

If you have been scammed by a wedding vendor on Facebook, post the details on the group or here in comments. Tell us of your experience so together we can STOP these scammers and work towards having the fake pages and profiles taken down.

As a word of caution: Ensure that everything you post about scammers you know to be true especially regarding professionals who have behaved badly because slandering them (talking bad about them) is an offence if found to be factually incorrect (also defamation) and you could find yourself in trouble. Which no one wants. Details here of the rules regarding online slander and defamation posts.

What are the elements of a defamation claim?

The elements that must be proved to establish defamation are:

  • a publication to one other than the person defamed;
  • a false statement of fact;
  • that is understood as
  • a. being of and concerning the plaintiff; and
  • b. tending to harm the reputation of plaintiff.
  • If the plaintiff is a public figure, he or she must also prove actual malice.

Is truth a defense to defamation claims?

Yes. Truth is an absolute defense to a defamation claim. But keep in mind that the truth may be difficult and expensive to prove.”

Another issue of course is that these scammers are likely stealing genuine people's photos from real Facebook pages and profiles. I will do my best to trace the images back to their original owner and let them know about the identity theft.

Tips for spotting wedding scammers on Facebook:

  1. How old is the page? Being new isn't a guarantee of it being a scammer (it could be a genuine start up business) but it is also an indicator and you should be careful and do some checks.
  2. (Advice from a fellow Facebook user) “Don’t conduct your transaction solely via text or FB PM’s. Get a proper contract/invoice which includes the business address and a landline number. Get receipts for payments. Do your research, Google the business, if it’s a FB seller check how long their account has been active etc.
    Any suspicions walk away, why take the risk.”
  3. Use free internet tools like ‘tin eye' (reverse image search) and Google's reverse image search tool (right click on the image and select it from the drop down menu) to see if the images have been lifted from someone elses page or website.
  4. The advice I have picked up from groups from people who have been scammed is that you should not pay for anything by bank transfer. Many of those scammed paid via this method. However different payment methods offer different levels of protection and it is good to know what these are especially as many reputable vendors only accept payment via bank transfer. *Page down for details of how secure various payments are. 
  5. Is the price too good to be true? This is a question you should ask yourself re everything you buy online. Not because it might be a scam but because the quality may not be as good as it appears. Check reviews carefully.

Payment methods and the security they offer

Source http://www.payyourway.org.uk/compare-payments/

What kind of security do I get when using this type of payment?

  • CASH        You will not be covered unless your home or travel insurance covers you for situations like theft. Cash machine withdrawals can only be made when using the correct PIN. If you have accepted counterfeit money, you are required to surrender the notes or coins on demand without getting them replaced.
  • CHEQUE       If   you tell your bank that your cheque book has been stolen, you won’t be liable for any fraud on your account; the cheque is only valid if it is signed by the genuine customer. If your cheque book is stolen or lost your bank or building society can put a stop on all the missing cheques.
  • PREPAID CARD       When paying in-store you will either be asked to enter your PIN or for your signature to authorise the payment. Check the card’s terms and conditions for fraud protection. Cash machine withdrawals can only be made when using the correct PIN.
  • DEBIT CARD           When paying in-store you will usually be asked to enter your PIN or your signature to authorise the payment. Consumer protection providing immediate refund will apply if you are an innocent victim of fraud – your claim needs to be made within 13 months of any fraudulent transaction leaving your account. You will be able to get a refund from your bank if the wrong amount is taken in a transaction or withdrawal – again your claim needs to be made within 13 months. If the exact amount was not specified when you authorised the payment and the amount exceeded what you reasonably expected to pay you can request a refund from your bank (your claim must be made within 8 weeks of the transaction). Your card may be cancelled or blocked if lost or stolen. For online and phone transactions, card companies and card accepting businesses use a number of different tools to help them spot a fraud. Cash machine withdrawals can only be made when using the correct PIN.
  • CREDIT CARD         When paying in-store you will usually be asked to enter your PIN or your signature to authorise the payment. Consumer protection applies if you are an innocent victim of fraud and you suffer any fraudulent loss. You will be able to get a refund from your bank if the wrong amount is taken in a transaction or withdrawal. If the exact amount was not specified when you authorised the payment and the amount exceeded what you reasonably expected to pay you can request a refund from your bank (your claim must be made within 8 weeks of the transaction). Your card may be cancelled or blocked if lost or stolen. For online and phone transactions, card companies and card accepting businesses use a number of different tools to help them spot a fraud. Cash machine withdrawals can only be made when using the correct PIN.
  • DIRECT DEBIT         You will be given notice of the amount to be taken from your account and when. The Direct Debit Guarantee offers an immediate refund in case of problems.
  • STANDING ORDER          Consumer protection providing immediate refund will apply if you are an innocent victim of fraud – your claim needs to be made within the 13 months of fraudulent transaction leaving your account. Payments require your authorisation in advance and your bank must tell you what information the payment will be processed on (e.g. account number and sort code). If you give the correct information and your payment goes astray your bank must make immediate efforts to trace the transaction and notify you of the outcome. In this case the transaction will be refunded. If you give incorrect information and the payment goes astray your bank must make ‘reasonable efforts’ to trace the transaction but may charge for doing so. However, they have no liability for getting the funds back. Claims must be made within 13 months.
  • ONLINE OR PHONE PAYMENT           If an unauthorised transaction is taken by a fraudster from your online or phone banking account:Consumer protection providing immediate refund will apply if you are an innocent victim of fraud – your claim needs to be made within the 13 months of fraudulent transaction leaving your account. Payments require your authorisation in advance and your bank must tell you what information the payment will be processed on (e.g. account number and sort code).

If money you send is transferred to the wrong account:If you give the correct information and your payment goes astray your bank must make immediate efforts to trace the transaction and notify you of the outcome. In this case the transaction will be refunded. If you give incorrect information and the payment goes astray your bank must make ‘reasonable efforts’ to trace the transaction but may charge for doing so. However, they have no liability for getting the funds back. Claims must be made within 13 months.If goods you paid for do not arrive, turn out to be faulty or are not as described:

Treat online and telephone transfers like cash: if you know and trust the other party it’s fine, but be wary if you’re purchasing something of high value. Credit and debit cards offer better additional protection if the product turns out to be faulty, not as described, or doesn’t turn up at all.

  • CHAPS            Payments require your authorisation in advance and your bank must tell you what information the payment will be processed on (e.g. account number and sort code). You will get a refund from your bank if you are an innocent victim of fraud. CHAPS. 
  • PAYPAL            The PayPal Buyer Protection ensures a refund if goods are or have been inaccurately described or do not arrive, provided the eligibility rules are adhered to and the claim is raised within 45 days of making your payment.There is no credit card consumer protection from your credit card issuer if you use your card to load up your PayPal account, although you would still be covered by the PayPal Buyer Protection policy. Buyers do also have the option of raising a chargeback if they used their credit card or Visa debit card to fund the payment.

If you have other tips to avoid online wedding scammers, please tell us about them in comments.

 

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