5 Ways to Spot a Pinterest Scam: Brides and Budget Shoppers, Beware
Pinterest is more than just a place to share pictures of tempting dishes and home improvement projects; it’s a breeding ground for scammers who especially love to prey on the pinners in the high traffic wedding section.
Scammers see the Pinterest wedding boards as an opportunity to lure in budget brides (or even those who don’t have a ring on it) with promises of expensive designer dresses at hundreds or even thousands less than boutique prices.
What's *really* important is whether or not these earrings can be worn with an updo at the reception.
But you know what they say about things that seem too good to be true…
Sites like Fish In the Sky, 9Lover, Milanoo, Wedding Dress Bee, and Dream Prom (among countless others) have hundreds of dresses pinned on fake accounts, which are then picked up by real account holders and repeatedly repined be real pinners, masking their origin.
Dig a little deeper, and you’ll find dozens of complaint boards chock full of incidents of poor quality dresses, refusal to refund money, and outright lack of product delivery.
The dresses are gorgeous. The prices are fantastic. The website looks well-made. How are you supposed to know when you’re getting a deal and when you’re getting conned?
Good for ad copy, bad for personal wedding planning.
Look at the pin.
The standard format of a scam pin includes 1) a description of the dress and 2) a generically-named board in lower case letters: wedding dresses, mothers, bridesmaids. Because pins are added in huge chunks, the scammer often cuts and pastes the description and doesn’t add personal information (e.g., “The lace around the middle will totally distract from my huge ass!”).
However, a scam pin may run through several real users who add those comments themselves. Go with your instincts on analyzing individual pins. The take-away here is that if it doesn’t look like a real person pinned it, it’s unlikely that a legitimate company is behind it.
Check out the pinner.
A Pinterest scammer takes other people’s pictures and names. There is rarely personal information listed in bios or pins, because that’s a waste of time. The objective is to get the most pins out into the Pinterest pool to increase the number of back links and hook the maximum number of victims, so personalization is left by the wayside. Pinterest scams are even becoming automated. The scam pinner rarely follows anyone (and is rarely followed), has generic names for the boards, and has tons of pins in the target categories… and nothing else.
To be fair, Isis Sterling sounds like a secret identity, and this whole thing could be bigger than we ever imagined.
Weddingdress as one word is also a tip-off.
Consider the name of the site.
So the pin seems legit, and the user has some other boards and personal information included. What if there’s really a good deal here? Before you whip out your AMEX, consider the name of the site. They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but when the site name is bizarre, you might just need to dig a little deeper. For example, how does 9Lover reflect a wedding dress site? What about Wedding Dress Bee? And my personal favorite – Reliabletrust Store.
After too many bad reviews reduce the number of referrals to the site, the scammers simply set up shop elsewhere with basically the same page design and a new name. Think about it: does it look like this name was developed by a marketing team or experienced entrepreneur? Nope, they were available domain names, and they’re often becoming generic enough to thwart attempts to ferret out reputation through Googling. That is, if you don’t know the right trick to get to the bottom of it all…
Consult with Professor Google.
Surely the free speech on the internet would have some information on these potentially sketchy sites, right? Yes… but only if you know how to look for it. If you simply Google a company’s name, you’ll come up with the original website (duh) and product listings from that website. Instead, search for specific keywords along with the site’s name such as “wedding dress bee scam” and “milanoo complaints” in order to find the message boards and blogs of the scammed. Of course, you’ll get results for just about any site this way, but when you see the volume of complaints levied against a particular brand, you’ll think twice about sending over your AMEX number.
Google search: Milanoo
The Google search results for keyword: "Milanoo"
Google search: Milanoo scam
The Google search results for keyword: "Milanoo Scam"
Scam sites have recently started to combat this by sending out press releases dismissing the idea of the company being a scam, which are highlighted in purple on the second image. These are fairly easy to spot, as the language is odd (often the result of a poor translation) and the arguments are FOX News quality: “I highly recommend shopping at Milanoo disregarding all the slanderous ‘Milanoo scam’ articles.” However, they’re popping up more and more in the initial results page, so click past page one.
Responding publicly is a popular strategy for buying time and preserving a brand's image a little longer.
Find customer reviews on independent sites.
Customer review sites such as Complaints Board and Reseller Ratings present an opportunity for those who’ve been scammed (or got bad service) to present their side; they also post photos of damaged/crappy products, sometimes next to the promised item.
Some of the scam sites have been responding publicly to the reviewers in an effort to maintain a façade of giving a crap. However, the original reviewer never comes back to state that everything was handled well, and it was all a big misunderstanding.
- Always pay by credit card rather than debit card or wire transfer. It’s much easier to dispute a fraudulent credit card charge with your company than try to recoup cash from the other types of transactions.
- If the price seems too good to be true, it is.
- Be wary of overseas transactions. Other countries are not always bound by the same laws, and even when they are, they’re far more difficult to enforce.
- If the company has not been in a business a long time, you may be better off waiting to benefit from waiting for reviews to come in.
Now that you have these killer tips for finding Pinterest scammers and will pass them along to anyone you’re worried might get sucked into one of these horrible deals, it should be harder for these companies to make money off the unsuspecting.
But there’s so much more valuable information here than simply keeping yourself protected.
What if you could go on the offensive?
Scam sites reach this level of popularity because they’re doing something right. Why let that great knowledge go to waste? Tune back in next week, where I’ll show you how to take the shady strategies used by these companies and launder them for your own legitimate business plan.
Until next time, keep expanding your brand!
Have you ever been scammed by a site like the ones mentioned here? Do you frequently see too-good-to-be true deals on Pinterest?