Me showing off my fancy new winter boots.

How do you like my sunglasses? They’re actually winter boots! Amazing, right?

This magic illusion is made possible through a Facebook scam, of which I was a victim.

It’s humbling, being the victim of fraud. I watch the news all the time. I read about the women who are bilked out of thousands of dollars because they fall in love with fraudsters. The Canada Revenue Agency calls me routinely telling me that I have to act now (and send gift cards) before my case is sent before a tribunal.

I tuned those stories out, to be honest. After all, I’m too smart to be fooled by these fools. Too savvy to be scammed by these scammers.

But now the scammers are laughing at me. And so, to prevent anyone else from feeling as foolish as I do right now, I’m going to tell you a story.

I got greedy, and then I got fooled

About a month ago I was scrolling through social media and whizzing past all the ads showing women shaving their faces with giant, multi-bladed razors (do women do this?) or prancing around wearing leak-proof underwear. When, all of a sudden I saw an ad for Sorel boots and stopped scrolling.

The ad caught my eye because 1. I’m Canadian, and 2. Boots.

My current Sorel boots lasted longer than my marriage and I had been considering an upgrade, you know, for something a little more modern. A little less dated.

I’m still talking about the boots, folks. (Or am I?)

I hadn’t pulled the trigger on the boots because I wasn’t sure if I could afford them. Sorel boots can be pretty pricey.

As though reading my mind (as Facebook often does), this ad promised me Sorel boots for less than half of what I would normally pay. This broke mother said, “Heck yes!”

“This seems almost too good to be true,” I muttered to myself as I clicked through to the website, which was filled with pages and pages of Sorel boots. I found a pair for me. I found another pair for my fast-growing kid. I’m nothing if not a generous broke mother.

Buyer’s remorse sets in

Moments after completing the sale, I felt it: Dread. I sent the URL to a friend who explored the site’s code and gave me the bad news as gently as he could: “Dude. That site is fake. You’re not getting any damn boots. Dummy.”

He would prove correct. The company responded with an invoice, thanked me for my purchase and asked me for my patience as shipping would be delayed due to COVID-19. Two days later I received shipping information, telling me my package was en route from China.

Something shipped, but what?

What organization looks like.

I waited. I wondered. Should I call the bank now? How about now? Like I do with everything important, I wrote a reminder on a Post-It note and stuck it to my computer monitor.

And then yesterday my boots arrived! But wait, the box was adorably small for two pairs of winter boots.

Were they boots for ants?

No, indeed they were not boots for ants, they were actually sunglasses! Really fancy fake Ray-Ban sunglasses, with a nice little case and a lens cloth and everything!

As adorable as these sunglasses were, they were not $180 worth of winter boots.

Could I afford to learn from this?

There was a moment I considered doing nothing. It was my own fault. I should have known better. I was embarrassed.

Had my purchase been for $50 I probably would have done nothing. I might have even sucked up a charge for $100 and called it a life lesson.

But $180 is not nothing. So I peeled the Post-It from my monitor and called my bank.

An hour spent chatting with a great fraud investigator at BMO, and it appears I may someday get my money back.

In the meantime, here is a word of advice:

Shop local. Shopping local won’t prevent you from going to a shoe store and walking out with a fun new pair of sunglasses. But it will prevent the black magic of that can turn much needed winter boots into silly (but adorable) face accessories.

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