BALTIMORE — Social media ads are designed to sell consumers on products they're already interested in, but be careful about ordering from unfamiliar websites.
Queen Shaydonna Haynesworth was served up an ad for a rainbow Christmas tree on Instagram, and she jumped at it. A few weeks later, her package arrived.
In a video she recorded while opening the package, Haynesworth was baffled when she realized the tree she got in the mail looked nothing like the ad she was served.
"Like seriously? Who is responsible for this?" she said.
Haynesworth ordered the tree from a website called Iridescent To You, but the $34 payment was processed by Yokawa Network Limited.
"So I love rainbow everything, and so I'm like okay, a rainbow Christmas tree, why not? This should be fun," Haynesworth said.
That is, until a feather duster lookalike arrived in the mail.
"Yo! It's missing a leg!" Haynesworth said in her unboxing video. "The worst thing I've ever seen in my whole life."
She didn't try contacting the company or returning the item — she figured it was a lesson learned.
Angie Barnett, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau in greater Maryland, said that's what creators of fake websites hope will happen.
"The scammer or the schemer clearly made a profit. Most of these items are made overseas, so to return the item you'd actually have to ship to China or ship to an outside country and the cost is going to be phenomenal," Barnett said.
Before ordering anything from social media ads or unfamiliar sites, look at the contact page. If there is no business address listed, that's a red flag. If there is an address, Google the address to see if it exists. Call the phone number to see if it works. Send an email and wait for a response. And use a credit card when shopping online.
While it's nothing close to what she ordered, Haynesworth said she's keeping the tree.
"I'm determined now," she said. "Like, it's mine. I might as well. I'm going to get the ornaments I was going to put on it. Now, I'm defiant. I'm getting that tree up."
This story was originally published by Mallory Sofastaii on WMAR in Baltimore.