Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Facebook Albums and Consumer Fraud

Facebook's photo-tagging has become a tool for unscrupulous advertisers to reach social media networks.

Anecdotally, the biggest offender seems to be streetretro dot com.  Here's a sample title of a photo album:

And here's a sample of the end of the same photo album, with links which redirect to streetretro dot com:

All of the photo album instructions and up redirecting to the same web site, streetretro dot com.

Scam Adviser gives them a 65% safe rating, which one wouldn't accept for, say, a credit card processor, a painkiller, or a brake pad.  The site has several credit card logos, but doesn't actually accept credit cards.  Payment is through wire transfer or money order, which should raise suspicions.

Of course, careful social networkers can turn on Facebook's photo/post-tagging approval safeguard and avoid sharing bank account information with sites they've never heard of.

But at some point, shouldn't someone be responsible for this sort of thing.  Is it legitimate, or is it fraud?

Right now, there are a variety of sites which address this topic, but specific sites are usually judged in a  community-rating system.  So you get things like this Yahoo! Answers page, in which two people think the site is a scam, and one says it's great.

Or a collection of other, generally automated, web site safety assessments, like webutation.net.  It looks like Google and Symantec sign off on the site because it doesn't distribute malware, but it doesn't really tell a potential customer whether the site is safe or not.

So is there a government agency responsible for domestic web site fraud?  The FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection looks promising, but they clearly don't assess individual web sites.

The possible shoe vendor site seems to be misusing Visa and MasterCard corporate logos, which might be of interest to the credit card issuers.

Visa almost offers an option for fraudulent web site reporting:
How can I report fraudulent Visa Web site or e-mail?
You can report e-mail fraud claiming to be from Visa by attaching the suspicious message to an e-mail addressed to: phishing@visa.com
MasterCard has a catch-all email for consumer fraud questions:

If you believe that your question can only be answered by MasterCard, you can send an email to Consumer_Inquiries@mastercard.com or send a letter to:
Consumer Inquiries
MasterCard Worldwide
2000 Purchase Street
Purchase, NY 10577

I'll try MasterCard and Visa's email addresses and see if they have any ideas.


  1. I don't understand. Are they tagging people randomly? Or do they just exist on Facebook?

  2. It looks like someone is taking over Facebook accounts. If they took over my account, they would upload a ton of shoe photos to an album as me, and then tag all of my friends in photos in the album. It reaches a lot of people in a pretty intrusive way - people tend to look when they've been tagged in a photo. The album includes instructions to click on a link, which takes you to the web site, outside Facebook.