PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — The owners of a fruit tree farm in the Acreage are spreading the word about a fake Facebook page that looks just like their business page. The imposters are allegedly tricking people into giving them money for products they never receive.
"We're very passionate about growing fruit trees," Anna Girgis told WPTV.
Girgis and her husband own the Love Plant Nursery in the Acreage.
"We love to provide the best fruit tree for our customers," Girgis said.
They've only owned it for about a year, but in that time, through all of the challenges for a small business owner, it's a recent challenge that's been the biggest heartache for the family.
"It's been stressful," Girgis said.
Someone took their business name and address and created a fake website, pretending to sell their trees.
It's since been shut down, but now there's a new Facebook page.
"They're taking our complete business identity and selling trees, promising people that they will ship them the trees, asking for deposits using their fake business page and then not delivering because they're fake, and then we're the ones getting the repercussions," Girgis said. "People are coming here irate, yelling at us, cursing at us, all hours, day and night."
"It's really easy to build a lookalike website," Zulkifar Ramzan, chief scientist with online protection service Aura, said. "In fact, I can just copy the code bit for bit and make a website that looks exactly like a legitimate website, and the average person can't tell the difference between a fake storefront and the real storefront."
Ramzan said consumers need to be extra careful when trusting anyone online with their money.
"Be super vigilant and make sure you are at the right spot," Ramzan said. "Second, if somebody's asking you to pay them through some weird mechanism like Western Union or Venmo, actually try to use a credit card where you can get some sort of protection if something were to go awry."
Back at Love Plant, Girgis is now at her wits end. She's filed reports with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, hoping to get the fake page shut down before anyone else loses money.
"People are getting confused between us and them and I've done everything I can do," Girgis said. "This was my last resort just to get the word out so that people understand this is not us."
Contact 5 asked Meta to check on the status of the fake Facebook page but so far has not heard back.