Facebook scam steals Ottawa company's business
Expert says competitors often create fake sites to steal business
Ottawa's largest window and door retailer says a fraudulent Facebook knock-off was using its name to make money by stealing its customers.
Comfort King Windows and Doors said it recently signed up for a company Facebook page to help market its business and attract new clients.
But when owner Paul Hunter looked on the social networking site, he said he found a group of people already had created a fraudulent Facebook page in Ottawa under the Comfort King name.
"There were friends, family, business colleagues on there, customers of ours," Hunter said, "So the Facebook page, the fraudulent one, was done very professionally — not a kid hacking around."
Comfort King has operated for the last 32 years and Hunter said it brings in about $10 million a year in revenue. The business is established and Hunter believes the creators of the page were in cahoots with a competitor.
Competitor likely tried to undermine established company
"They go to someone who is not 100 per cent legitimate in Ottawa, make them an offer, say we'll hack into one of the bigger companies," said Hunter.
"[They] set up a phoney Facebook page and steal a bunch of business and either you give us X amount for each lead or X amount for the whole job."
Unknowing customers who went on the phoney page were invited to ask for price quotes and the scam worked, Hunter added. He said sales through the company's actual website, not the Facebook page, dropped.
Hunter said he soon contacted Facebook and the social media site took it seriously, taking down the page not much later.
This is a common ruse, added internet marketing expert Jeff Cyr, who works at Ottawa's Electric Medialand.
"I guess they didn't have a Facebook page for a couple of years now and someone has been redirecting all these leads to someone who wants them," Cyr said. "That would have to be another local window and door company."
Comfort King still runs their legitimate Facebook page and Hunter said internet sales and leads have gone back to normal levels.
- Comfort King is one of the largest window and door retailers in Ottawa.Apr 20, 2012 11:00 AM ET