Jacuk, of Springfield, Pa., was among the dozen people from across the country who were left holding the bag after placing orders with Oscoop.club, an Albuquerque online store, according to the Better Business Bureau.
The BBB’s regional office, based in Albuquerque, said it conducted an investigation after receiving 12 complaints from people who ordered from the site but never received their purchases.
Most said they had bought iPads and claimed the items were purposely sent to the wrong address and then returned to the company, the BBB said in a news release.
The BBB said it was unable to contact Oscoop.club and that letters sent to its address near Lomas and San Mateo were returned by the U.S. Postal Service. An investigation showed there was no such business at the address, the BBB said. The website has been taken down.
Jacuk said in a phone interview that she found the site by doing a Google search for used or refurbished iPads. She used a debit card to order the item, and received a tracking number.
She said the number appeared to be a valid United Parcel Service tracking number, and Jacuk was able to watch her son’s birthday gift travel first to Hawaii, then to Albuquerque. Sometimes when she checked, the package appeared to be back in Hawaii, she said.
Another customer told the BBB in a written complaint, “I ordered a product I never received. They provided a USPS tracking number that showed it went all around the USA.”
She said she never got the iPad, and she was never able to reach the company, despite sending it more than 30 emails. When she tried to submit a form to the company’s customer service page, she got an error message in response.
Jacuk said she does a lot of online ordering, and “this has never happened before.”
“You don’t think of these things until they happen to you,” she said. “It feels very violating, and it’s scary because it could have been a lot more money.”
Jacuk said she had to cancel her debit card and her bank account number and redirect her direct deposit and other payments.
“It’s taken me three to four months to fix the issue,” she said. “It was a nightmare.”
Jacuk says she wished she had tried contacting customer service on the Oscoop website before ordering anything. The responding error message would have been a tipoff, she said.
With the holiday shopping season around the corner, the BBB and the Federal Trade Commission offer this advice when it comes to online ordering:
• Use only reputable sites.
• Look for indicators that the website is safe by ensuring the address bar has a lock icon in the upper left-hand corner. That’s a sign that the website is encrypted and secure, although there are no guarantees.
• Always read the return and shipping policies before making the purchase. If the site doesn’t include that information, “then it’s probably not a good idea to make the purchase,” the BBB says.
• Pay by credit card. That way, the transaction is protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act, which allows you to dispute charges under certain circumstances and temporarily block payment while the creditor investigates. (Another benefit to credit cards: if someone uses yours without your permission, your liability is generally limited to the first $50 in charges.)
Contact Ellen Marks at email@example.com or 505-823-3842 if you are aware of what sounds like a scam. To report a scam to law enforcement, contact the New Mexico Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 844-255-9210.