Beware fake Takealot scams on Facebook

Online fraudsters have scammed numerous South Africans on Facebook, claiming to be South Africa’s biggest online retailer Takealot.

This past festive season, several ads from “Takealot” with substantial discounts on various products, including TVs, iPads, hairdryers, and cooking appliances were doing the rounds on Facebook and Instagram.

Individual users on WhatsApp also shared the posts.

One of the pages advertised iPad Pro tablets for R60.

As a reference, the iStore currently charges R15,999 for an entry-level iPad Pro model with Wi-Fi-only and 128GB memory.

Therefore, that “deal” would amount to a discount of roughly 99.6% — an impossible discount.

Below are examples of some of the scam ads on Facebook and Instagram.

Takealot posted a warning to consumers in mid-December after it became aware of some of the posts being widely shared.

“We have been made aware of fraudulent promotions, job offers and posts doing the rounds on social media,” Takealot said.

“Please note that these posts are not official communication and are scams. We strongly recommend that you do not engage with them in any form.”

Takealot provided these basic pointers to spotting a scam in its name:

  • Takealot does not request payment to enter into its competitions.
  • Takealot does not charge for the delivery of prizes.
  • Customers don’t pay extra to unlock deals.

It also advised customers to consult its scams page for further information.

But based on comments on Takealot’s post, numerous Facebook users had already fallen for the scams.

Many said they provided their banking card details to the site and that amounts were being deducted from their accounts.

One showed multiple amounts of R49 being deducted from their account, minutes apart.

The scammers used Takealot’s official branding to try and convince targets they were legitimate, supported by myriad comments from what appeared to be fake Facebook users praising the deals.

MyBroadband found the scams were so prolific that even the Facebook search results page for “Takealot” showed their ads, as illustrated below.

Upon further investigation, we found various pages and groups posing as Takealot, including:

  • TakeAlot
  • Takealot Giveaway
  • Takealot Promo
  • Takealot deals
  • Takealot Delivery

There were a few telltale signs that the deals from these pages were not legitimate, aside from the suspicious pricing.

One of the obvious ones was that many of the photos of the advertised products appear to have been snapped in an actual retail store.

Among the comments praising the deals were also claims that they had visited the store and confirmed the offers were genuine.

Takealot is a pure-play online retailer, which means it does not operate any physical branches or stores.

Many of the pages were incorrectly categorised, with one labelled as an airline, while most also had small followings of a few hundred or a couple of thousand users.

In addition, the majority barely had any posts on their timelines. The accounts were seemingly only being used to run ads on Facebook.

Some users asked why Takealot had not yet had its official page verified by Facebook.

A verification badge, indicated by a tick in a circle next to the page’s name, provides a helpful form of proof that a page is official and run by a well-known organisation or individual.

MyBroadband asked the company why its official page had not been verified but did not immediately receive feedback to our queries.

Now read: The most common email scams of 2021 — and how to spot them

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Beware fake Takealot scams on Facebook