ESSEX broker Balgores was hit by an attempted ‘passing off’ or a cloning of one of its ads.

The advert was featured on Facebook.

Phil Slyfield, sales director, said the cloning had been reported to Facebook and the advertisement taken down.

“As far as I understand, the cloners replicate your ad at first and then start to subtly change elements such as phone number and url. It has the potential for the cloners to get away with a deposit and initial rental while posing as a genuine leasing broker.”

Candice Henry, marketing manager, added that Facebook’s response was immediate. She said:

“It was really strange – I just saw the advert by chance and thought ‘they’ve ripped off my advert’! At the time the phone number was genuine and so was the click through url. The ad looked very genuine. Now our social media team has been requested to do a regular social media ‘sweep’ as part of our due diligence to customers. It’s important to ensure trust is maintained in your brand.”

In the March 03 editorial of Broker News, Keith Hawes from Nationwide Vehicle Contracts warned other brokers to watch for scammers.

Recently the FCA reported that Bridle Vehicle Leasing brand IVL Leasing had been scammed with a fake Instagram account.

On its website, IVL Leasing has the following statement:

“We are aware of fraudulent Instagram accounts that claim to represent a number of the brands in our group. We would like to clarify that we do not use Instagram and we will never ask you for payment over social media channels.”

The FCA said in its report on the scam:

“Be aware that scammers may give out other false details or mix these with some correct details of the registered firm. They may change contact details over time to new email addresses, telephone numbers or physical addresses.”

FCA advice if your brokerage is cloned

We spoke to the FCA who said that in the first instance brokers should report the scam to them so they are aware of it via their ScamSmart page, and then take appropriate action to have the fake advertisements or social media channels taken down.

The FCA also said it might be worth warning customers to watch out for fake advertisements, too.

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