TULSA, Okla. — Online and social media ads are supposed to represent the products being sold.
But a woman was surprised by what she received in the mail after her purchase from a social media ad.
The 2News Oklahoma Problem Solvers tell us about misleading social media ads as we begin our countdown to the 12 scams of Christmas.
Shay Haynesworth was served up an ad for a rainbow Christmas tree and she jumped at it.
A few weeks later her package arrived.
She told us, "I love rainbow everything, and so I'm like okay, a rainbow Christmas tree, why not? This should be fun"
But it wasn’t what she expected.
It was shock and amusement when it finally showed up.
Instead of a 6-foot tree, as was pictured in the ad, it was a foot-tall tree that resembled a feather duster.
"Like seriously? Who is responsible for this?"
Shay paid $34 dollars with shipping. She didn’t try contacting the company or returning the item, figuring it’s a lesson learned.
And that’s what these website creators are banking on, according to Tyler Moore, a Computer Science and Cyber Security Professor at the University of Tulsa.
"We're all trying to save money and it would make sense, but I you see a very low price associated with a store you've never heard of, you should think twice before you go there and make that purchase."
Dr. Moore says customers like shay are lucky to receive anything at all, or at in her case, a counterfeit that looks nothing like what was pictured.
"It's pretty simple, stick to websites that you know, e-commerce sites that you've used to buy things, and think twice before going to a new site."
Before ordering anything from social media ads or unfamiliar sites, look at the contact page, is there a business address … google it to see if it exists.
Is there a working phone number? Email?
And use a credit card when shopping online.
As for Shay's tree, she says, "it's the worst thing I've ever seen in my whole life."
While it’s nothing close to what she ordered, Shay said she’s keeping the tree.
" I'm determined now. Like it’s mine, I might as well. I’m going to get the ornaments i was going to put on it, now I'm defiant, I'm getting that tree up."
Shay says she has what she calls a $15 "whatever" limit. That’s what she’s comfortable losing if she wants something but isn’t familiar with the website.
But be careful — because with some of these sites it’s not just money you’re losing — you’re also handing over personal and payment information.
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