To celebrate his pharmacy’s 25th anniversary, Joe Myers thought that he would hold a social media giveaway, but it wasn’t long before he started getting phone calls from customers saying that something wasn’t quite right.
“We opened in 1997 on April 5 and we decided we’d have a competition online — which we do regularly on our Facebook page… — and then people share and pass it on and comment, congratulate us,” Myers, who runs Joe’s Pharmacy in Campbell River’s Merecroft Village shopping centre said. “It’s a nice way to celebrate our 25th and gets a lot of people involved.
“It was going very well for a few days, and then yesterday we just started getting all these calls from our customers asking us if we were asking for their credit card information. We realized it was a scam,” he said. “Someone had taken our page… in a very professional way. They copied our actual Facebook page, they copied the photos that we had of our celebration, me in 1997, the picture of our store, everything was exactly like we had it. Then they said ‘congratulations you won the prize!’ It sounded all very legitimate, but there was an area to click on, asking people to register and give their credit card number.”
Joe’s Pharmacy has since awarded the competition prize and has told followers to disregard any communications received about the competition. They have also complained to Facebook, who, according to Myers, said that the fake page did not meet the company’s standards for it to be taken down.
“It’s just infuriating that they used our whole image and trust that we have in the community, to pull off this scam and they’ve gotten away with it,” Myers said.
Myers has not reached out to the RCMP because he said the problem is likely not from Canada.
“It could be from any country in the world, it’s not a local thing… these are professionals,” he said.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud centre lists a Prize scam, wherein scammers contact people through social media and say that before people collect winnings they must either purchase something or give over personal information. For information on how to protect yourself, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud centre website.
Myers said he initially wanted to pull the business’ Facebook page down, but he realizes that many customers use it for their only means of communication.
“We have to carry on with it,” he said. “We’re not going to post anything, or communicate through it. We’re just going to receive comments and hopefully legitimate things.”
“It’s been a total shock, very very upsetting.”
Myers wants to thank the community for the support, and is asking people who have recevied messages from the fake account to report it to Facebook.