Online shopping brings convenience but also risks if shoppers aren’t vigilant. Savvy consumers know that when an offer seems too good to be true, it likely is. One such online shopping scam making the rounds on Facebook is the “Macy’s Clearance Sale” scam. This elaborate ruse utilizes Macy’s branding and steep discounts to create fake shopping websites that steal personal information and money.
This article will dive deep on how this scam works, who is orchestrating it, how to spot it, and most crucially, how to avoid becoming another victim. Every online shopper should understand this growing threat targeting social media users with compelling ads and scam websites.
This Article Contains:
An In-Depth Look at the Macy’s Clearance Sale Scam Bilking Facebook Users
The scam typically begins with online advertisements on Facebook promoting clearance sales on big-ticket items like appliances, furniture, electronics, jewelry and more at unbelievably low prices on websites using the Macy’s name. However, these sites have no actual connection to the real Macy’s company.
The fake websites are carefully designed to impersonate and leverage Macy’s branding, logos, images and likeness to trick users. When victims purchase items through the scam websites, one of the following occurs:
- Receive nothing – The most frequent outcome. Orders go unfulfilled after payments are processed.
- Obtain knock-off or used substitutes – Inferior, defective or previously owned goods may arrive.
- Get completely different items – Random low-value products that don’t match the order often shipped.
- Payment and personal data is stolen – All information entered on the site is compromised for financial fraud and identity theft.
This scam network has fleeced countless Facebook users out of money through convincing social media ads and fake clearance websites. Read on to understand how to recognize this scam and avoid becoming the next victim.
How the Elaborate Macy’s Facebook Scam Works
The cybercriminals running this scam operation have established an intricate infrastructure to successfully pull off this clearance sale ruse at scale. Here is an inside look at how the rip-off works:
Step 1: Construct Fake Macy’s Website
The scammers use official Macy’s images, branding and content to create a convincing doppelganger website advertising major clearance discounts on high-end products that mirrors the look and feel of the real macys.com site.
Step 2: Create Compelling Social Media Ads
Eye-catching advertisements are crafted promoting clearance sales of up to 90% off luxury items on the scam website. The ads are optimized for engagement and distributed via Facebook and Instagram to target deal-seeking consumers.
Step 3: Drive Traffic to the Fake Site
When social media users click on the ads, they are redirected to the sophisticated fake website dressed up just like the real Macy’s site. The jaw-dropping prices strongly encourage rapid purchases.
Step 4: Quietly Harvest User Data
As unsuspecting shoppers enter their payment and personal information during checkout on the scam site, the criminals capture the data to commit payment fraud and identity theft.
Step 5: Profit Through Resale of Stolen Data
The scammers have no intent to fulfill any orders. Instead, they profit by selling the stolen user data on dark web marketplaces and using credit card numbers to make fraudulent purchases on other sites.
This highly refined process allows the scam ring to repeatedly dupe Facebook users into providing valuable personal and financial information through their network of fake clearance websites.
Who is Behind the Elaborate Macy’s Shopping Scam?
These types of slickly designed retail and ecommerce scams predominantly originate from organized cybercriminal enterprises based overseas, primarily in China, according to cybersecurity researchers. They operate vast networks of fake storefronts, payment processing channels, shipping operations and technical infrastructure to deploy their scams at a global level.
The level of coordination required to operate these online shopping scams allows the gangs behind them to inflict major damage to consumers and retailers. These groups have deep capabilities they leverage to rip off consumers including:
- Technical experts to build and manage networks of highly convincing fake ecommerce sites impersonating trusted brands.
- Digital marketing teams to create social media ads optimized to target and lure deal-seeking consumers.
- Merchant account providers to accept online credit card payments on the scam sites.
- Affiliates to resell the stolen personal and payment data.
- Overseas shipping contacts to mail cheap, random items to a small subset of victims.
- Regularly securing new hosting, domains, website templates and servers to evolve their tactics.
The capabilities of these fraudulent networks allow them to operate slick shopping scams on a large scale without being detected.
6 Ways to Identify the Fake Macy’s Sale Websites
While these scam networks go to great lengths to replicate legitimate online retailers, their fake clearance sale websites still exhibit revealing signs upon closer scrutiny. Here are 6 telltale indicators that a website is a total scam:
1. Prices That Are Too Good to Be True
When deals seem unrealistic, like 90% off big-screen TVs or jewelry, it warrants high suspicion. Macy’s rarely offers more than 20-30% off such expensive items.
2. Altered Domain Names
Scam sites will often use slight variations on the real Macy’s domain, like “Macyzs” or “Macys-Sale” instead of macys.com.
3. Logos and Branding Seem Off
Fakes may recycle old logos and use lower-resolution images that don’t match the retailer’s current visual identity.
4. Recently Created Website
A quick WHOIS lookup reveals many scam sites were only registered within the past few months or weeks, not longstanding stores.
5. No Working Customer Service Number
The site lacks a legitimate working customer service number, only dubious email addresses are provided.
6. Grammatical and Spelling Errors
Sloppy text with blatant grammar and spelling mistakes are prevalent on scam sites.
Being vigilant against these 6 warning indicators makes it far easier to distinguish fake clearance sale websites from legitimate retailers.
What to Do if You Ordered From a Fake Macy’s Website
If you made the mistake of ordering through one of the fraudulent clearance websites posing as Macy’s, take these steps immediately:
- Contact your bank and contest the charges as unauthorized. Halt any pending payments.
- Closely monitor statements and credit reports for further suspicious charges or accounts opened without your permission.
- Consider changing passwords on online shopping, social media, and email accounts to boost security.
- Submit complaints regarding the scam to the FTC, FBI, BBB, Facebook, and other relevant authorities. Provide as many details as possible.
- For credit card payments, request a chargeback to potentially reverse the charges and recover lost funds.
- Contact your card provider to update payment information and be issued a new card number to prevent additional misuse.
- Review all social media, email, and other accounts’ privacy settings to limit exposure of any personal data that may have been compromised.
Taking swift action can help victims contain the damage inflicted by fake online clearance sales scams.
How to Avoid Falling Victim to Ripoff Macy’s Websites
Savvy online shoppers must stay on high alert against fake retailer websites using social media ads and deep discounts to lure their victims. Here are some tips for avoiding these clearance sale scams:
- Be highly suspicious of Facebook ads promoting deals that seem too amazing to be true. Discounts over 25% off should raise red flags.
- Slow down – take time to thoroughly verify unfamiliar sites before entering payment information instead of jumping on a deal.
- Manually type retailers’ website URLs directly into your browser bar and bookmark real sites to avoid ads.
- Triple check site domains – slight variations like “macys-sale” vs macys.com indicate a scam.
- Search online for “scam” plus the website name to check for warnings and negative reports from other users.
- Review a site’s reviews, policies, contact info, and social media presence for signs of legitimacy.
- Use credit cards for purchases – disputed credit charges are easier to reverse than stolen debit card funds.
Exercising caution and verifying legitimacy before providing information can help consumers avoid online shopping clearance scams.
How to Identify This Scam on Facebook
Facebook is one of the main platforms scammers use to promote clearance sale scam ads and dupe users. Here are tips to spot the sham Macy’s ads on Facebook:
- Watch for too-good-to-be-true prices like 90% off electronics that should raise red flags. Real discounts are typically 20-30% maximum.
- Check the destination url – Click on the small “Facebook Ad” link to preview the site you’ll be directed to. Fake sites have slightly altered domains.
- Look for incorrect branding – Scam ads may use an outdated logo or images that don’t match the current Macy’s look.
- Research the ad buyer – Click on the Facebook Page name sponsoring the ad and look for indicators it’s an illegitimate page.
- Monitor for scam warnings – Check comments on the Facebook ad or posts for reports of the promotion being a fraudulent website.
- Evaluate page history – Ad sponsor pages that were just created recently should be viewed as untrustworthy.
Combining healthy skepticism with these tips when reviewing Facebook ads can help identify and avoid online shopping scams impersonating real retailers like Macy’s.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Macy’s Clearance Sale Scam
What is the Macy’s Clearance Sale scam?
This is a fraudulent shopping website scam that uses Macy’s brand name, logo, images, and likeness to trick customers. Fake Facebook ads promote clearance sales on high-value items at unbelievably low prices. However, it has no actual association with Macy’s.
How does the scam work?
Scammers create convincing fake Macy’s websites and post social media ads touting huge discounts on expensive products. When victims buy through the scam site, their payment and personal data is stolen. No real order is fulfilled.
What are some signs of the fraudulent sites?
Red flags include prices too low to be real, altered domain names, grammatical errors, mismatching branding, recently created sites, no working contact number, and more.
What should I do if I purchased through a scam website?
Immediately contact your bank to halt charges, close compromised accounts, monitor your credit reports for identity theft, change account passwords, and file complaints with authorities regarding the fraud.
How can I avoid these clearance sale scams?
Stick to the real Macy’s website, scrutinize unrealistic deals, research unknown sites thoroughly before providing info, watch for warning signs, and always use credit cards for purchases to better dispute fraud.
Can I get my money back if scammed?
If you paid by credit card you can request a chargeback. Debit card transactions are very difficult to recover. The faster you report unauthorized charges, the better chances of your bank reversing them.
Are other major retailers used for similar scams?
Yes, scammers also create hoax sites posing as Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Wayfair and more. Always verify site legitimacy.
The Bottom Line
The fake Macy’s Clearance Sale scam targeting Facebook users serves as a harsh reminder that if an online deal appears unbelievable, consumers should believe that it’s a scam. Savvy shoppers must stay vigilant against increasingly sophisticated ruses like this crafted to take advantage of bargain hunters across social media.
By understanding common online shopping scam warning signs and techniques for identifying fraudulent websites, consumers can avoid becoming victims. Always verify unfamiliar sites, check for subtle domain alterations, research deals that appear unrealistic, and stick to trusted retailers’ official websites. Stay safe online by following the recommendations provided in this article to keep your hard-earned money and information out of the hands of scammers.