BEWARE of online advertising scams in South Africa
Has this happened to you? You receive a call by an online advertising agency misrepresenting themselves as the advertising division of Facebook claiming that they have picked up a lot of activity on your Facebook brand page and they can help you get more fans with exceptional advertising rates.
Oh, it’s so easy. You just pay us in advance to activate your company account, send your ad text and graphic you would like to use (it looks just like normal Facebook ads); plus you get your very own key account manager who will manage your ads every time! On the surface it sounds so authentic because the guy on the line speaks in a smart accent and dazzles you with how many impressions you can get in return. Whoa!! Sounds great doesn’t it?
If this has happened to you, you are one of thousands if not millions. If it hasn’t happened yet read on … this blog post might just save you a lot of bucks and a lot of stress.
Well, once they have got your attention and interest they ask you for some company details including your email address, even though this is just a sales call and you are now enquiring you are about to enter into a legal agreement without even realising it. How so? Normally here in SA when you do make a telephonic agreement, you are notified by the person you are talking to that the call is recorded and that you can conclude everything during this call. You either say ok, not right now, I have to think, or you proceed. With this type of scam there is none of that.
This is what happens: You chat and ask questions, and then the Sales guy says speak to blah who will be dealing with your account and transfers your call. Once you get through to blah you are again impressed with the smart and friendly accent greeting you. You are then also given a special url to follow to some secret website that does not appear in public search results. This voice will also claim it is so, because they do not wish their competitors to learn of their excellent pricing structures. It happens so fast then next you hear this call is being recorded, you say ok (what’s the harm in that?) you are enquiring based on the call you just received. The guy then says ok, so this call is being recorded for training and verification purposes. You hear training and you hear purposes. Ok great, you quickly think that’s ok because they are training their guys. The sad news is your call is being recorded and you have been tricked into a telephonic legal verbal agreement.
Once you realise this and try to back out, the call has ended and next thing you know you have someone from their legal department calling you. So quick!! Yep, they bully you all the way threatening legal action and blacklisting your business on ITC that you succumb to paying these fools just to avoid all the nonsense and spoiling of your business name. This boils down to extortion and you will get bullied by their long-arm tactics with the law. What they cannot get around is the fact that they misrepresent themselves.
The sad news is even if you pay them and go through with their so called advertising you do not get any likes on your Facebook page and you do not get any ROI. Traditional DIY Facebook advertising works like a charm, almost instantly you start receiving likes from fans on your page. Use these guys and you will be lucky if you even get one.
Ask for print screen shots of your ads and you will get nothing that is real. Only a faded print screenshot of impressions your ad apparently received. Dumbfounded you think social media advertising doesn’t work and you never try again.
IT’S AN INTERNET MAFIA SCAM!!! Pay us or pay the consequences!
After doing much research on this I found several resources where representatives of companies and business owners have complained and warned others against this.
Some South Africans have been so badly bullied and have apparently been told by this company that they would sour their reputation on web forums and complaint sites if they were not paid even going as far as threatening their entire web presence including destroying their business websites. They do this globally but in recent months it appears they have primarily targeted South Africa.
Please don’t be fooled and if this has happened to you or anyone you know please let us know in the blog comments or send us a private mail on our contact-us form. Innocent and good willed people, some with very small businesses have become victims of this scam and some still will if something is not done. Let’s get rid of these trolls!
Blog by Daniela Bascelli (Social Media and Digital Marketing Strategist | Trainer at Onyx Digital Team). Follow Daniela on Twitter: @danielabascelli and follow the team @onyxdigitalteam. For more information on our upcoming social media training and service offerings, please contact us.