Beware of fake ads featuring celebrities
A pop-up ad on Facebook featuring CTV News anchor Lisa LaFlamme hooked Bonnie Meyer of Vancouver to click on an offer for CBD gummies.
"If she's endorsing them they've got to be good. You know I have nothing but total respect for Lisa LaFlamme," Meyer told CTV News.
She added that she thought she was going to get a free trial but the next day she noticed more than $300 in credit card charges from a company called Galaxy Primal CBD.
"Pay attention before you click," explained Simon Lis, Better Business Bureau president of Mainland B.C.
Lis said she's heard complaints about free trial offers before.
"The trick is once you sign up for this free offer, they ask you for a credit card, maybe for shipping. You may or may not get the product or when sometimes you do get the product, you start entering into this long standing agreement where now you're getting the product every month," she said.
Meyer received a lot of CBD product, which she says she did not want or order. In addition, she said she received more credit card charges and is now out $616.
As for celebrity endorsements?
Lisa LaFlamme tweeted out a warning last June about her name and likeness being used to promote CBD.
"It's fake," she wrote. "Please don't be fooled."
CTV News tried to get a comment from the company that Meyer says took the order, but got caught in a loop that led to no answers.
We called the number that Meyer says her credit card company gave her that was associated with the charges. A customer service representative answered and told us that they represent several different brands. However, he did acknowledge we were calling from a TV station.
"I will try to escalate this one to our manager and I will let them talk to you, OK?" he said.
No one got back to us. We also called the number that Meyer said she used when trying to communicate with the company that took her order.
We got another call centre and a customer service representative, who called herself Mary, gave us another number to call.
"You have a chance to talk with one of our supervisors and manager," Mary said, but when the number was called, Mary answered the phone again.
"You told me I could call this number and talk to a supervisor," CTV News Vancouver's Ross McLaughlin said.
"Hmm," said Mary.
The call disconnected.
All the CBD products that Meyer received had a natural product number on them. We looked the number up in Health Canada's database and discovered it was linked to a company called Stalco Inc. based in North York, Ont.
We left a message for Steven Page, the company president, but got no response.
The company's voicemail recording seems to distance itself from the actual sales of its products.
The voicemail recording stated, "Please note Stalco is a third party logistics company and does not sell any products. If you have questions regarding a product that was shipped from our facility, please contact the company that sold you the product."
Fortunately, Meyer says she was able to get all the credit card charges reversed after putting them in dispute with her credit card company's fraud department.
"It can be challenging because you need to show that you didn't agree to these charges and so if you're clicking without reading, you may have inadvertently signed up for something," said Lis.
As for pop-up ads on social media?
"I don't trust them. I'll be scared of every ad that pops up now," Meyer said.
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