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COVID opened the door for scammers to double down on their worst practices, while preying on consumers during an unprecedented global pandemic. That includes some bad actors who have been taking advantage of online shoppers in search of hard-to-find items like face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE).

Today, the Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint against one of those bad actors. The Commission alleged that Frank Romero (doing business as Trend Deploy) failed to deliver advertised PPE on time — if at all. What’s more, Romero didn’t tell customers about shipping delays, offer order cancellations, or give refunds. And even worse, although consumers thought Romero was selling them N95 masks, in reality Romero sent them cloth masks that did not have the protective qualities he promised. This case is part of the FTC’s continuing effort to address “online shopping” fraud that seeks to exploit high demand for PPE and other COVID-related products.

When you shop online, sellers are supposed to ship your order within the time stated in their ads, or within 30 days if the ads don’t give a time. If a seller can’t ship within the promised time, it has to give you a revised shipping date, with the chance to either cancel your order for a full refund or accept the new shipping date.

So before you shop online, especially from an unfamiliar retailer, remember these three things:

1. Check out the company or product. Search online for the name plus terms like “review,” “complaint,” or “scam.” See what other people say about it. Read the seller's description of the product carefully. If the seller has name-brand goods at steeply discounted prices, they might be fakes.

2. Look at the terms of the sale. Make note of the total price, including taxes, shipping, and handling; the expected delivery date; and policies for refunds, including who pays for return shipping and if there is a restocking fee.

3. Pay by credit card. You’ll get protections under federal law, so you don’t have to pay for things you ordered but didn’t get.

Remember, if you see a scam, or want to report a problem about online shopping, tell the FTC at

It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system, and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer user records system. We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.

The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

June 30, 2021
Thank you will definitely pass this along to various senior orgs and HOAs Your information is most helpful
June 30, 2021
Thanks for all the useful information.
June 30, 2021
Thanks for keeping us informed!
June 30, 2021
advertisers on internet/facebook should have to tell you where the actual product will be shipped from.
July 08, 2021
Thank you, Colleen Tressler, such great 3-step advice for shopping on line. Scamming is so constant nowadays and saving money is a high priority. Comparison shopping important as well.
July 14, 2021
On line retailers should be forced to make public the country of origin where the product is manufactured as well as its shipping origin. This should be made public in all the retailers advertising.
Raymond Ferrari
February 26, 2024

In reply to by Archiebald

I purchased an item on line. the company that i purchased the product from was in China. They did not disclose that in the web site. The product was not as described. they are requiring that i pay the cost to ship the product back to China and the cost that they paid to ship the product to me before they will issue a credit on my charge account. The cost to ship the item back to China is substantial. Should I be required to pay the cost.

Don't use your…
August 14, 2021
What about FedEx fake scales or Wallmart look a like emails
Don't use your…
August 14, 2021
I recently" Again " been scanned, when I write out and try to report it to my bank which they alerted me you know the oak call I didn't get to write down everything that happened but they said it's legit and it's not legit when I tapped on up above to check the site to see if it was Secure it said it was and I thought well I tapped on it again when I went back to the site and it looked secure at first and then it changed it changed to not secure right in front of my eyes and they just got more money out of my bank account man like every every week or every 2 weeks have been getting money out of my account and I went back inside and the darn thing what give me a phone number or legit address so they won they got money out of my account anyway
August 31, 2021
Thank you so very much for the extra much needed information. Wish I would've had this 5 yrs ago. In the last year alone I think I've lost out on at least a couple of thousand dollars of items bought and never received or if received was nothing like I was under the impression I was receiving. Wish there were better ways of tracking it down so I can get my money back.
January 18, 2023

Thanks for the warning. It help me to educate this information.

November 08, 2023

what payments beside paypal and venmo have buyers protection?
I would like to buy something off of marketplace on FB and the seller does not use either

William Garbarino
January 09, 2024

Are there any requirement for providing an online order, purchase form noting specifics of the sale, etc. required of businesses selling online. Something that would show address of seller, customer, cost of product, S&H, taxes, payment information such as credit/debit card to be used. When I order online I usually complete an order form. Recently I did not and got scammed by a company that did not use such form and without my consent or providing information used my debit card.