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Link: Scammers’ New Way of Targeting Small Businesses: Impersonating Them - WSJ

Darn Tough Vermont, a maker of merino socks, doesn’t advertise discounts, and its markdowns are modest. That made it all the more surprising when ads started popping up on Facebook and Instagram promising large discounts on the 20-year-old company’s products. The ads carried Darn Tough’s logo, images, photos and wording, all scraped from the company’s website. “The more you buy, the more you save,” a banner across one ad promised. At the top was the address darntoughonline.shop. There were few clues that the ads were fake, said Ryan Dahlstrom, global director of digital commerce for the Northfield, Vt., company. “They’d find an old ad we had run,” he said, “flip a 75% or 80% badge over that image and throw it up as a sponsored ad or a sponsored post.” Shoppers who took advantage of the special offers didn’t receive Darn Tough socks—or anything at all. Many called Darn Tough’s customer service line to check when their merchandise would ship or to inquire if the discounts were legit. “Half of my day, five days a week was spent tracking down these websites, taking down these websites,” Dahlstrom said. Platforms would sometimes take down bogus postings in days; other times, the process stretched for weeks. Mark Lee, chief executive of MarqVision, a brand-protection company now working with Darn Tough, said some ads retargeted consumers who went to the original Darn Tough website, while others were aimed at shoppers who searched for socks or used other specific search terms. The fake websites could only be reached by those receiving the bogus ads, making it tougher for Darn Tough to find them and take them down, he said. Meta said it uses technology to prevent fake ads from being posted and to detect and remove them from Facebook and Instagram. “It’s against our policies to run ads that deceptively try to scam people,” a Meta spokeswoman said. Darn Tough and some of its customers have taken to social media to warn would-be buyers about the fake listings. Some fans have even incorrectly posted warnings on some of Darn Tough’s official postings. “It became very clear,” Dahlstrom said, “that the consumer has a hard time differentiating between real and fake.” #


Yoooo, this is a quick note on a link that made me go, WTF? Find all past links here.