KPRC 2 Investigates: Fake sale ads trick customers into losing money

What you and your aging loved ones need to know about fake ads

There are ads for all kinds of products on social media. Some are legit. Others are just a set-up for thieves to take your money. Our KPRC 2 Investigates team explains how to spot the difference and the way some people are being tricked.

“It showed her riding around on the scooter in the house, and then outside,” said Alvin resident Donna Dobberstine.

A great deal on a scooter was exactly what Donna Dobberstine was looking for.

“It was advertised for $99.99,” she said. “I decided I’d go ahead and do it.”

Weeks later when she hadn’t heard anything, she looked into where her PayPal payment was actually sent.

“I Google searched the name and that came up as a private individual. And so of course, this set off a big red flag on me,” said Dobberstine.

There was no scooter and her money was gone.

If the sale ad looks too good to be true, it probably is

Jennifer Salazar from the Better Business Bureau tells us scooters and other medical equipment are common items thieves use in fake ads. The first warning sign is a super cheap price.

“I know we’re all looking for a deal, especially in this day and age. But there’s a reason behind it,” said Salazar.

Salazar says if you see an ad, find the actual company and call them to see if the deal really exists.

Never enter your Medicare information on a sale ad or website

Never enter your Medicare information into any type of sale ad or website. Some of these fake ads might ask for your personal information in order to take advantage of the deal.

“It might say like for more information or to redeem a coupon or something, enter your information here,” she explains.

Thieves can use your Medicare number to collect fake payments. Keep in mind, medical equipment might be something you can get for free anyway.

“A scooter could be durable medical equipment. Sometimes medicare may pay for that if you get it prescribed by your doctor,” said Salazar.

(You can contact your doctor to see if you qualify and request a prescription for durable medical equipment.) Dobberstine hopes sharing her story will stop another unsuspecting person from falling victim.

“There’s a lot of elderly people handicapped people, and they don’t have a lot of money and so this might seem like a good deal to them too,” said Dobberstine.

We helped Dobberstine get ahold of the right people at PayPal, and she was able to get her money back. You are more likely to get a refund on something like this if you use PayPal or a credit card for the purchase.

The Better Business Bureau has an education program to help teach people how to avoid scams. The BBB often goes into communities to hold classes on various topics. You can request a presentation or volunteer, to help spread awareness on the constantly evolving ways thieves try to trick us!

About the Authors:

Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.

Award-winning TV producer and content creator. My goal as a journalist is to help people. Faith and family motivate me. Running keeps me sane.