Online scams target trusting Facebook users

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ROANOKE (WSLS10)-- Online scams have been a problem since the start of the internet, but a new kind of website is targeting casual Facebook users with deals that are too good to be true.

If you're a woman on Facebook, there's a good chance that you've seen the advertisements before-- a nice dress or flattering swimsuit from a website that you've never heard of. The items will be marked at great prices, often $15 or less. Recently, the scammers have started targeting men as well, using photos of watches or other high quality items for just a fraction of what you would expect to pay.

People who have ordered from these sites say they've learned you never know what you're going to get. In some cases, shoppers do get exactly what they ordered. For many others, what shows up on the doorstep is much different than what's seen in the pictures. There are entire websites and Facebook pages dedicated to shoppers who have ordered online, receiving items that look nothing like the pictures.

"They take images off everybody else's sites," says Julie Wheeler, President of the Better Business Bureau of Western Virginia. "When people order them, the company is actually in China. They go and buy fabric they think looks like the picture, sequins that look like it and just put something together. The sizes bear no resemblance to sizes you would think they would be. The colors aren't what they should be... Just horrible nightmare stories. And you can't return it."

With high school proms underway, prom dresses have become one of the biggest issues. Experts say bathing suits are also becoming a major problem as both men and women get ready for the summer.

Wheeler says if you plan to order online, there are several things you should check first.

"Are you going to be able to get in touch with them if you have a problem," asks Wheeler. "Do you have a physical address that you can actually say, 'The business is located at this address?' Check with us and see if we have any experience with them."

Often times when these sites pop up on Facebook because they're promoted, not because our friends actually like and share them. For just $5, the companies can pay to sponsor their posts-- receiving thousands of additional views and even more Facebook "Likes."

If you do buy something that turns out to be a fake, get in touch with your credit card company. Sometimes you can dispute the charge with them to get all or part of your money back.