What lurks beneath…

While catching up on Facebook earlier this morning, a friend of mine had posted a snippet of his blog which appeared in my newsfeed..  When I finished the end of his blog post, I was greeted by a cluster of links to other news stories:

Image
The offending clump of links…

One of these caught my attention..  not because I’m desperate, but because it reeks of a scam, and I’d hate for people to fall for this rubbish..  so hopefully after reading this, you’ll recognise the scam for what it is, and how to avoid getting caught up in one in future…

Before I continue – as my dear friend repeatedly tells me, he has absolutely no control over the adverts that appear in his blog.  If he wants to remove them, he has to pay an additional fee over what he already spends every month on preparing the material for his blog and which he can’t justify spending more just to remove adverts…  and I for one don’t actually blame him.  However, given the nature of his blog and it’s target demographic, I’m concerned that some of his readers MAY be suckered in and fall for some of the dodgy tactics used by these ‘advertisers’, and others like them…

Advertorial

Ever read a newspaper and seen a big full page story about some manufacturing company and how they’re creating lots of jobs and providing such a great service for the surrounding community?  Usually complemented by a number of small display advertisements for their products and services, and sometimes even companies associated with the company in the article..  Well, look closely and you’ll see it’s an “advertisement feature”.  There’s no journalism involved..  it’s all PR..  designed to convince you that it’s a great news story…

Now look closely at the ‘story’ here, from that advert above about the journalist exposing secrets of how to get an iPad for only £17…

Exposing the advertorial..

Right..  Lets analyse this then..  Firstly, the strapline which claims

EXCLUSIVELY for you: the secret to huge savings online“.

It’s not exclusive for you.  It’s not exclusive at all…  anyone who clicks on the link to that ‘story’ is given the same information.  How is it exclusive?  Then it’s followed up by more psychology tricks..

“the secret” and “huge savings”.  Feeding our desire of greed, and again enforcing the idea that it’s exclusive..  it’s a secret!

Are you hooked yet?  No?  Ok, we’ll keep reading…

As seen in:  The Sunday Times, BBC, The Observer, London Evening Standard, Daily Record

Oh..  so it’s not that exclusive after all?  Or has it never actually been seen in those publications?

Let’s examine the reporter..  Claire.  She looks intelligent.  She’s wearing glasses, that makes her look intelligent doesn’t it?

Claire - our intrepid reporter.  Click for an eye-opener!
Claire – our intrepid reporter. Click for an eye-opener!

I wonder what kind of glasses they are?  I can’t tell..  I wonder if she got them here:

http://www.porzky.de/
Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 15.24.40

or here:

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 15.25.51

Or maybe she got them from this gift store:

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 15.26.59

Either way, she’s obviously a bit worried about the quality of the materials, since she apparently wants “to get a WHMIS [Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System] certificate” for herself:

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 15.31.00

If you’d like  to see where else our lovely Claire pops up, do the Google Image Search for yourself and see..  you can click here if you like:

Google Image Search for Claire

Well, I don’t really want to question her personal life, but it appears to me that she likes to get around a bit…  Or maybe it’s just a stock photo and “Claire” isn’t her real name, and guess what – she’s not really a journalist either…  Dear me..  who would try to convince us otherwise??  Oh yeah…  somebody trying to sell us something.

Lets get back to the text…

“As I’m sure you’ve noticed”

Nope..  Can’t say that I have..  What am I missing out on?  I’d better read on…  (They’re still trying to hook you here.)

“..to make sure the great deals offered by these websites were really real.  And what better way than to test it yourself?”

So – they know people don’t trust these sites they’re advertising, so they’re going to make sure the deals are real..  but it’s so simple apparently, you can even test them yourself..  yes, YOU can test them yourself..  there’s no better way than YOU testing them to confirm they’re legit.

“I wanted to buy a new Apple iPad 3, so it was me who was in charge of the test.”

Well, first off – there’s no such thing as an “Apple iPad 3”..  It’s “The New iPad” or “3rd Generation iPad”..  Honestly, you’d think a journalist would at least get trademarked product names correct…

Secondly, the phrase “it was ME IN CHARGE of the test”… empowering you, the reader..  if this young woman can be in complete control, then SO CAN YOU!!    Otherwise, you’d be stupid, no?  and YOU’RE NOT STUPID….

So..  Who is conning us here?  Well, it should jump out at you..  Can you guess yet?

Lets have a look at the next paragraph – which instantly gives it away:

“I started to do lots of research to see which auction website was the most reliable, and therefore, the most appropriate for my test. After hours of research, I came to the conclusion that, thanks to its wide range of products and its great reputation, MadBid was the website to test. Usually, on these sites, you need to buy credits to bid on auctions against other users online, and if you win, you’ll enjoy a huge discount on the product price. MadBid was offering a limited bonus at that time: 100% extra free credits, on your first credit purchase. This was ideal for me, so I bought the credits required to fully test the website. I think the aim of that offer was to gain brand knowledge and prove to people that they could save a huge amount on their auctions. “

Wow..  so hours of research and “Claire” could only come up with ONE site to test?  I thought this was a phenomenon taking Europe and North America by storm..  Anyway, here’s some more of those hooks..  phrases like “wide range of products”, “its great reputation” – trying to convince you that it can be trusted and you’ll find everything you’re looking for.

Oh, they were also offering a limited bonus of 100% extra free credits when “Claire” signed up..  but this was a limited offer.  Limited.  Ooh, it’s limited..  someone managed to get a bargain that was limited…HANG ON…  The offer is still on, I just noticed in the middle column on the page, in red, to catch my attention:

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 16.02.47

How kind of them to make it convenient to spot..  it was only just to the right of the text I was just reading.  I might easily have missed that offer if it weren’t positioned so close to “Claire” bragging about getting 100% extra free credits. (see what I did there?…  I said free.  Hang on… FREE.. no, hang on.. 100% extra free credits.  that’s better.  Hammered it home yet?  You can get something FREE..  but it’s LIMITED, so you’d better hurry..  oh my god, the offer expires TOMORROW!!!!  There’s no time to lose, I’d better sign up now otherwise I’m going to be the only one who misses out…

If you visit that page on Wednesday, I reckon it’ll say the offer expires Thursday.  Let’s see.

Do you notice how many times MadBid is written in this article, and how EVERY MadBid mention is a hyperlink to the MadBid website?
I mean, they’re not trying to use subliminal message techniques to make MadBid stick in your mind, are they?  You must be MadBid to think that.

Now then..  lets have a look at “Claire’s” bargains..  What did she buy?  Remember – she’s TESTING the site for a review..  so just like any normal person does, she’d probably be starting off with a small purchase, you know, to test the water..  so lets see..  wait, hang on..

‘I started with an auction on an item I really wanted – a Samsung LED TV 50″‘

Wow.  I mean, that’s one to go for isn’t it?  You’ve never dealt with this company before, and for your first purchase you go for a luxury item like a 50″ Samsung LED TV.  She must be MadBid  if she thinks she’s going to end up winning that.   Pardon?

“To my surprise, I won it, after a quite short auction!  I paid only £57.90 for an HD TV that’s worth more like £779”

Oh.  Well, I guess that’s egg on my face eh?  Beginners luck I reckon.  But isn’t that an item we’d all desire?  A 50″ LED TV from a big name brand like Samsung, for less than 10% of it’s retail price?  a saving of over £720!!  YES!!  WE ALL WOULD!!!

Anyway, well done.  Bet you can’t do that again!

“To make sure it was not just a fluke, I decided to try on another product, and once again, I was surprised to see that I won!  And this time, the savings were ever greater!”

Oh my..  even greater savings..  what’s better than saving over 90% on a £779 TV??  Saving over 90% on a £1,500 Apple MacBook Pro, that’s what!

“I ended up paying £140 for a MacBook Pro that costs £1,500. Quite impressive! There is absolutely no doubt for me, no ordinary retailer can offer such great deals!”

Imagine being lucky enough to save £1360 on a laptop..  and not just any laptop, a luxury brand laptop..  As well as over £720 on a TV..  That’s over £2000 she’s saved, and remember – “there is absolutely no doubt for me” says our trusted journalist Claire..  “No ordinary retailer can offer such great deals!”.

I must say, I’m well impressed with Claire’s luck and skill at winning two auctions on the trot…  Especially considering other people haven’t been anywhere near as lucky, as this report by Mark King in the Guardian suggests:

http://www.theguardian.com/money/2012/jan/28/penny-auction-websites

If you think it’s too difficult and might be a tad confusing, don’t despair..  “Claire” goes on to give us detailed instructions on how to use MadBid – but not before enforcing a few positive thoughts about her experience after she WON the items, and did not have to wait as long as she thought to get her purchases..  “It was simply amazing”.  Totes.

Anyway, on with the detailed instructions, where we are kindly reminded that the EXCLUSIVE offer of 100% extra free credits expires tomorrow…

Now, shall we see this lucky winner here..  Lets do a Google Image search on him and see what we find… (Click the image to see for yourself)

Blimey..  old Jason gets around more than Claire..  what do we see…  Pages that include matching images show :

Jason Meeks – Los Angeles, CA according to Weeklyprizewinners.com–net.com (now there’s a URL to ring your neighbours alarm bells,  not just yours!)

Jason Meeks – Dublin, according to dailyprizewinner.net

Jason Meeks – Hobart (Tasmania) according to bonuscreations.com

Jason Meeks – Sydney, Australia, according to bonuscreations.com again…

Jason Meeks – Perth,  according to globalsurveypanels.com

Jason Meeks – Seattle, according to visitorgift.com

Jason Meeks – Worcester, according to poker1911.blogspot.com

Jason Mercato (ooh, perhaps Meeks is getting too common?) – New York, NY according to welovetunes.com

And if that’s not enough to convince you that MadBid  is an amazing experience (not my words), what else can they do to convince you?  Well..  how about we diss the competition?  If the savings aren’t going to make you spend your money with MadBid we will just put you off shopping via eBay..  with some handy YouTube videos in our “Related Posts” section:

eBay employees on strike
eBay employees on strike: “Consumer dissatisfaction. Users are shocked by the poor quality of service and fee increases on eBay.”

What??   I must see what they have to  say about that..  oh hang on..  it doesn’t link to anything..  perhaps it’s because it’s a lie and the video doesn’t exist, and eBay staff AREN’T on strike…

Not content with one?  Lets have another:

eBay, too developed to worry about its users?
“More and more users leave eBay, whose growth collapses.”

So not only are they saying the eBay users are dissatisfied, they go on to say eBay doesn’t even care about you…

Well…  my advice?  Avoid penny auctions like the plague..  you’d be MadBid to trust anything their advertising says…

Oh – and just in case you don’t think it’s their advert, have a look here:

http://uk.madbid.com/from/02

There’s our Claire again… she seems to be spelling her name without the ‘e’ now..

All the images are hosted on the same server as the regular ‘MadBid’ images..

Really..  ANYONE who uses this kind of outrageously false and grotesque advertising won’t get any of my business.  I really hope you don’t fall for the lies either.

Addendum:

I forgot to mention the “comments” in the original advert..  Notice how they’re ALL positive?  Except maybe for Nadia, who is asking questions many of us would probably ask too..  I wonder who they are..  lets Google Image Search their avatar:

Lets see who Nadia really is..

 Oh look..  it’s another stock image from another eyecare website..  Who’d have thunk it?  Needless to say, the comments are all bogus.

and sure enough, the offer continues to extend by 24hrs every day you visit the link. Total scam.20140220-202345.jpg

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