Jessica Davila is a big fan of Shark appliances. So when she needed a new vacuum cleaner, she grabbed her phone and went googling for a deal.
“It was about the second one down. And I clicked on the website because it said ‘flash sale’ and I was assuming a cyber deal or you know,” says Jessica.
The site offering that deal was “sharkcleanus.shop.” The tab says it’s the Shark Clean Outlet.
And it’s offering big deals: 70% off!
“So there was like $95 Shark vacuum cleaners. They were offering free gifts for a month. Like lifetime supplies of stuff, monthly gifts,” says Jessica.
She’d never used the company’s outlet store, so this site may have been the real deal.
And some businesses that allegedly check the credibility of websites say the page Jessica opened was potentially legit. But before getting cleaned out of her cash, Jessica contacted us.
And we asked Tim Helming from the internet security company DomainTools to take a look at the site.
He admitted - the deals look really good. Maybe too good.
“When you scrutinize the site a little more, you start to see some other things that are even bigger tip-offs,” says Tim. “Where you see things like broken language, just big grammar and spelling errors and things like that that a professionally produced site shouldn’t have.”
Scammers know that mistakes are often not found because consumers are using these sites on their phones. Small print can lead to big problems.
“A lot of the time, what gets us is that we’re moving so darn fast, we’re multi-tasking and those things make us less good at each thing we’re focusing on. So taking a little bit of time when you’re navigating around the web to make sure what you’re looking at is what it purports to be, that can really pay off,” says Tim.
Tim’s investigation found that where this site is hosted appears to have other questionable domains - or website addresses - linked to it, too.
“I saw that on the IP address where this domain was hosted there were a number of other domains that looked pretty sketchy. That is something that we often take as a signal that something is a little bit less likely to be legit,” says Tim.
We contacted Shark’s parent company right away and a spokesperson sent us a statement saying: “This site is not associated with SharkNinja and we are in the process of working with our legal team to have the website removed.”
And that’s good for Jessica, who can save herself and others from getting sucked into a bad deal.
“Too good to be true. Yeah,” she says.
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