Special Report: Facebook Fraud - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Special Report: Facebook Fraud

(WTVM) -  Last December, we began an investigation into a Columbus business that customers were furious with after not receiving items they ordered on Facebook.

Brandon Etheredge has been following this story since the beginning and has tricks to help you avoid becoming a target in his special report #FacebookFraud.

It’s like throwing money down the drain.

“I have never thought to check the Better Business Bureau for a Facebook business but I can guarantee you before I order again I will check,” said customer Katy Montgomery.

With more than 50 million businesses operating on Facebook the dangers continue to grow.

People from across the country sent in letters begging for help after they say Columbus-based business Swoon and Co. took their money and never sent the merchandise they were promised.

Messages from multiple states accuse the company of refusing to respond. They even blocked some customers from their social media pages, and one says the owner stole their money

Customers are falling victim now more than ever because it’s easy for these cyber salesmen to hide behind their computer screens

“If I had bought all of my Christmas presents from her I would have been in serious trouble and had a very skimped out Christmas because of it,” Montgomery said.

However, when we spoke to owner Jen Pierce in January, she told us they were taking care of those customers.

“We have already guaranteed free items to those customers and they have been notified of this, so if they didn’t receive their package because of weather or didn’t receive their tracking number before Christmas, we have notified them,” said Pierce said.

“Mrs. Jen included a nice little handwritten note about sorry for the delay here's 50% off your next order and there is no way I will ever use that,” Montgomery said.

There are things you can do to protect yourself from people looking to take advantage of you

“If you don’t recognize the name of the company you are doing business with, research it,” said Major Gil Slouchick with the Columbus Police Department.

Research can be as simple as Googling a business. For example, if you look up Swoon and Co., It doesn’t take long for our investigation to show up in the results.

But if you have already fallen victim to one of these companies, you have a couple of options.

 “Facebook likes to know if there is someone taking advantage of consumers on their site,” said Kelvin Collins. “So you can also go to Facebook and alert them to the company”

It is as easy as going to the company’s page, clicking a button, and hitting report.

There is also legal action you can take against companies looking to take advantage of you.

“The consumers also have several options,” Collins said. “They can go to small claims court if they can’t get it resolved through the BBB.”

Unfortunately, these businesses target people across the country and that is what makes it hardest for the police to patrol.

“If you get ripped off of and you’re in Columbus, Georgia and you buy something from a business that's in Kentucky Hawaii or Afghanistan because there are some that are overseas and you spent $250 and you want us to put somebody in jail, it's not gonna happen,” Maj. Slouchick said.  “We don't have the resources to send people to Canada or Kentucky.”

Another thing that makes this case difficult is that according to Muscogee County, these businesses don’t have to have a business license, meaning they don’t answer to anyone. But as we found out, there are some new developments into Swoon and Co.

“We do know that some of the state agencies are looking into the company and we are providing info there so very likely a consumer could get a call from another agency that’s working the issues,” Collins said.

Copyright 2017 WTVM. All rights reserved. 

Powered by Frankly