And nothing would please me more on my birthday than to see big tech in court… Well, that’s not going to happen but this is a fine effort in attempting to do so…

Facebook In Small Claims Court (UPDATE)
 To: All UK Citizens
Cc: UK Press / UK MPs 
Date: Friday 13th August 2021
Re: Taking Facebook To Small Claims Court (UPDATE)

Dear Friend and Fellow UK Citizen,

Do grab a coffee … because this most certainly isn’t my shortest letter, but I think it may prove very useful to anyone reading it, especially if you’ve been scammed by an ad that appeared on your Facebook timeline.

Here goes:

As you may already know, the social media platform Facebook allows businesses to send advertising to us via our timelines, with those adverts targeted at us (depending on our professed age, gender, likes, dislikes and various other demographic data). 

You may even already know that everyone who uses the platform has a legal contract with Facebook; one that clearly states Facebook’s legal obligations to you in exchange for its use of your personal data. Sure, no money changes hands at that point, but your personal data is actually worth a lot. And your contract with them is just as real and important as any contract that involves direct financial transactions.

But what you probably haven’t realised yet is that a significant proportion of the adverts that appear on your timeline are completely bogus. And you’re almost certainly unaware that the websites you’re directed to via Facebook Ads are operated by serious, well-organised criminal gangs.

Even fewer of you will likely know that many of these scammers regularly use an American company called CLOUDFLARE INC to anonymise their domain so it’s impossible to see who the true owner is, or where the site is actually hosted.

(It’s even been reported that Cloudflare include ISIS and HAMAS as their customers. Which is why, two days ago, I asked the California Office of the FBI to examine what Cloudflare are up to, with a reported 600,000 + domains being anonymised by them).

In my case, when I called to ask Cloudflare’s London office staff why they were hosting the BEIMAC company website that scammed me, they denied they were providing hosting at all. What I know now is that they’re paid to hide or ‘anonymise’ the hosting for their customers. So they are effectively providing very convenient cover for these scammers.

(NOTE: You can report a scam customer to Cloudflare’s UK office yourself via0203 514 6970 if you like. But the best of luck if you try … you’ll need it).

Interesting. So How Does One Find Out Who Owns A Domain, Or Where A Site Is Hosted?

Without the attentions of the likes of Cloudflare Inc. you can normally check the hosting provider of any website by entering the domain in the Network Tools website app (as shown below);



OK, but… How Big IS This Scamming Problem?

If in doubt about the volume of bogus ads we’re talking about here, have a scroll through your timeline right now. It doesn’t take long to see that many are almost identical in styling, layout and wording. Just two are shown below, so you get the idea what to look out for (and yes, both were reported to Facebook today):

Where Are These Companies Claiming To Be Based?

Most have bogus UK addresses (if addresses are shown at all) and invariably with directors listed as being in China if you look at the company’s listing on UK Companies House. For example, according to their own records, LABUBU Ltd was worth just £100.00 in November 2019 yet now – in just 18 months – appears to be a company worth well over £2 million. Not bad for a company that countless UK consumers / Facebook users have been scammed by).

And if you read through the Signal Arnaques site alone you’ll get a true sense of just how widespread the crimes of these scam operators can be, with this link discussing the BEIMAC Ltd company who scammed all of them, and who scammed me out of £60.00.

The point is, these scam adverts are ripping off countless thousands of people every year in the UK (and around the world) and no-one here is doing anything to stop it; not Parliament; not the UK Police; not Action Fraud; not UK Trading Standards; not Companies House; not the press; and most certainly notFacebook.

What Can Any Individual Do When They Are Scammed?

Exactly. If you live in the UK, how can you sue to get your money back from scammers based in China? It would clearly be next to impossible to chase losses under £100.00 as most of them are, as it would clearly be prohibitively expensive.

And that’s exactly why these scammers go for relatively low-value products. It keeps all the national newspapers, police and politicians yawning.

Is All This Scamming Avoidable By Facebook?

Yes, of course it is. With just a minute or two of checks on consumer review sites such as Trustpilot or Signal Arnaques most of the bogus advertisers would stand out a mile, and Facebook could simply stop the ads appearing in the first place. But they don’t perform any such checks. None. Worse still, as I can now prove beyond any doubt, Facebook won’t remove them even after a user has pointed these bogus operators out. 

OK, So What Facebook Structure Are Claimants Up Against If They Try To Sue?

Their parent company, “Facebook Inc”, is based in Delaware USA, but operates in the UK and Europe under the corporate umbrellas of “FacebookIreland Ltd” (FBIL) and “Facebook UK Ltd” (FBUK). It uses the former corporate cloak when it suits its ‘tax tourism’ purposes, and the latter for employing its advertising staff and programmers in the UK.

It probably suits Facebook (as a brand) to be able to play these two post-Brexit jurisdictions (Ireland and the UK) off against eachother; not only to help it avoid perfectly legitimate legal actions but also to make sure that these scams they profit from never end up with a case precedent against Facebook. After all, it seems a UK-based scam victim would likely have to sue Facebook in Ireland, even if the scam adverts were placed and / or arranged by Facebook’s UK-based entity in London, as well as profited from by Facebook’s UK-based entity. Most people simply don’t have the time, energy, resource or legal advice to pursue such a complex corporate structure.

However, if we are to take FBUK’s directors at their own word, the UK-based Facebook entity is responsible somewhere along the line for its advertising on the platform. Put another way, if Facebook UK Ltd is not responsible for the legality and placing of adverts on the Facebook platform, as its lawyers claimed with me this week, why on earth would that entity declare to UK Companies House they are an “advertising agency” that earns its “primary income” via ads that appear on “Facebook“? If Judge Judy were listening to all this, you would probably hear the word ‘baloney‘.at some point in the proceedings.

(See screenshot below from Facebook UK Ltd’s 2019 Accounts)


If Not Responsible for Facebook Ads, What Does Facebook UK Ltd Do All Day Then?

Good question. Despite Facebook UK Ltd admitting to being an “Advertising Agency” on its own corporate records at UK Companies House, and even with the ability to perform “credit evaluations” of its advertiser customers (see below), its lawyers still claim that Facebook UK Ltd has “no control” over the Facebook platform, nor any legal responsibility for anything at all, if a claim is made against it by a UK-based user.

And FBUK have refused to provide the bank details of the company that scammed me but surely must have paid them for their ad, meaning that FBUK will know full-well what payment methods the criminals are using. So why aren’t the UK Police onto this, and requiring FBUK to divulge such information so victims (and their UK banks) might recoup the losses?

(See screenshot below from Facebook UK Ltd’s 2019 Accounts)


Net Result of All This Chicanery?

UK victims of Facebook’s failure to provide a ‘safe’ and ‘secure’ environment have no apparent UK-based recourse to legal action. If you take the FBUK lawyers’ word for it, you are required to sue them in Ireland. So inevitably, people simply give up and Facebook (as a brand) gets away with its corporate failures over and over again. Perhaps worse still, despite being one of the world’s largest corporations, there isn’t a single telephone number you can ever use to call Facebook. Their only published UK ‘Customer Support’ number is 0203 386 6000 but it simply doesn’t work (Go on, try it).

One way or another, Facebook has effectively put itself beyond all human contact. How can this be legal? How can any corporation get away with putting themselves entirely beyond human contact? And why is Parliament allowing this situation to go unchecked? 

In any event, as Facebook UK Ltd’s lawyers have argued thus far, the ‘correct’ defendant if you or I want to sue them is Facebook Ireland Ltd. So let’s look at this ‘Irish Question’ further…

Are Facebook Ireland Ltd Liable for Upholding The Terms of Their Contract Then?

A court needs to decide this properly in my view. Either way, the contract between users and Facebook (the brand) is clear enough. On their Terms page it says, with my bold text for clarity (and notwithstanding their confusing use of double negatives);

Section 4. Additional Provisions, Sub-Section 3 Limits on Liability

Nothing in these Terms is intended to exclude or limit our liability for death, personal injury or fraudulent misrepresentation caused by our negligence, or to affect your statutory rights. We will exercise professional diligence in providing our Products and services to you and in keeping a safe, secure and error-free environment. Provided that we have acted with professional diligence, we do not accept responsibility for losses not caused by our breach of these Terms or otherwise by our acts; losses that are not reasonably foreseeable by you and us at the time of entering into these Terms; and eventsbeyond our reasonable control“.

I’m pretty sure a competent lawyer reading this would conclude that Facebook Ireland Ltd are legally obliged to show ‘professional diligence’ when it comes to keeping a ‘safe’ environment for its users, and if that diligence isn’t applied that they are culpable for losses.

So if I can prove in an Irish court that their lack of ‘professional diligence’ has led to not just one, but repeated instances of bogus advertising scamming me, why shouldn’t Facebook Ireland Ltd be liable for such losses for me and anyone else that has lost sums directly via their deliberately-unsupervised advertising platform?

A legal precedent surely needs to be set here, one way or the other…

OK, But How Do The Scams Work?

Mine is just one typical example;

During late July 2021, I saw a Facebook Ad for some telescopic ladders; just what I needed for a job on the house. So I clicked on the ad, and was taken to a website called www.jutery.com (which now mysteriously no longer works). But you can see exactly what I saw that day if you type www.wulimer.com into your browser, where the scammers rather sloppily copied and pasted all the ‘Jutery’ content. As you can see, the site has some spelling mistakes, but it otherwise looks convincing enough at a quick glance.

But let’s assume you were the wary type, and wanted to check their credentials before purchasing something. You’d no doubt see the company’s supposed UK address shown at www.wulimer.com/pages/contact-us and perhaps be satisfied that it was genuinely based here. 

If not, and you were the super-wary type, you could have gone to the UK Companies House website, searched for “BEIMAC Company Ltd” and be forgiven for taking reassurance that the company does at least show an address in Middlesex in the UK. Buy you’d be 100% wrong to trust the Companies House listing. Not a single check is ever made by Companies House on any company or director, before inclusion on their list. Not one. So what on earth is the point of that list one might ask?

In any event, what you might have missed (on the page that shows where the BEIMAC director is supposedly based) is that the director ‘Tian Jun’ lives in China. And that would be a pity, because the China location is your first clue that your purchase will likely not turn out well. BEIMAC Ltd has dozens of website domains using the same / similar branding (if not hundreds according to some), with all of them offering goods that you can pay for but will rarelyor never see. 
 
This website took my card details and charged me twice for the product. (Yes, I’ve since cancelled the card). But sadly, the product I ordered never arrived. I was – like many UK consumers who fell for this particular scam – sent a dirt cheap pair of smartphone earbuds instead of the ladders. And they were sent from China via an outfit called “BUYLOGIC International Ltd“, who usedHERMES here in the UK to deliver this unwanted parcel to my door. So I told Hermes to take the parcel back and start an investigation, which they did, but even they were unable to decipher where the parcel had originally been sent from, though they confirmed it was China.⁠

To recap;

“BEIMAC Ltd” is actually based in China, but it has a completely bogus address in the UK, perhaps to fool their own bank into giving them a UK account. And BEIMAC Ltd is still listed on the UK Companies House website despite my vociferous complaints to the Companies House CEO Louise Smyth about their scams.

BEIMAC Ltd’s ‘modus operandi’;

BEIMAC Ltd advertises its products all over Facebook users’ timelines but always makes sure they are all priced at well under £100.00 apiece. That way, when the consumer doesn’t get the actual product they ordered (and they never do) only relatively small individual sums are involved. That will ensure the UK Police, UK Government, UK MPs and UK newspapers don’t get terribly interested in the widespread scam to follow. It also means that no law firm will represent victims in any court. After all, who can afford to pay a law firm several hundred pounds per hour to help them win a claim for say, as in my case, £60.00?

Smart aren’t they … these scammers?

So, what happened next?

As you can see here, around three weeks ago I launched a Small Claims Court claim against Facebook UK Ltd. And I did so for the following reasons;

a) For its quite deliberate failure to check the bona fides of any of its advertisers before they’re allowed to place an advert.

b) For its quite deliberate failure to remove advertisements after those ads have been highlighted to them as bogus / scams.

c) For the costs of my lost monies due to that scam, as a matter of principle.

d) And for its vexatious refusal to tell me, my bank and / or the UK Police the bank details / payment methods that were used by BEIMAC Ltd to pay for the ads.

OK, but why sue Facebook UK Ltd?

Due to Facebook’s published UK HQ being in London and me being based in the UK too, my claim was naturally pitched against “Facebook UK Ltd” (FBUK). However, as we know, FBUK’s London-based lawyers (White & Case) have since written to me suggesting I am suing the ‘wrong defendant‘. They say their client has “no control” over content on the Facebook platform. And they they claim that the ‘right defendant’ is Facebook Ireland Ltd.⁠

But surely this argument of theirs needs testing … in LAW;

To begin with, as you can see at the bottom of this email (and in this PDF), in its last published company accounts (in 2019) FBUK stated that it is a “reseller of advertising services” and that its revenue “consists primarily” of revenue from its “ad products” on “Facebook“. So I completely fail to see why FBUK cannot be held legally responsible for the advertising that FBUK directly profits from. I have demonstrated beyond any doubt that one of their regular advertisers (BEIMAC Ltd) is 100% bogus, not only scamming me but scamming many others in the UK too. 

I have sent Facebook all the evidence they need to stop them. Yet nothing is ever done about it – not by the (presumably Ireland-based) staff at the other end of my reports, nor by Facebook UK Ltd’s staff at its London HQ either. How can this possibly be allowed to stand unchallenged in law?

So Why Am I Writing to You About This?

My reason for writing to is that millions of people in the UK are being hammered (day-in-day out) with adverts on their respective Facebook timelines by these scammers. The stolen sums involved may be small on an individual scale but are potentially vast even if multiplied only by the number of people who complain vociferously on review sites, never mind all those who don’treport being scammed.

⁠It’s clear these scammers keep these individual sums deliberately low enough so that this vast scam at our country’s expense goes under the radar. In my case it was £60.00. But if these small sums are multiplied by even a fraction of the reported 600,000 + domains apparently being ‘anonymised’ by CLOUDFLARE, we might well be looking at tens of millions of pounds worth of scams in the UK every week.⁠

And no-one is doing anything to stop it;

No UK national newspaper has responded to my complaints about this. Neither has any UK MP, every last one of whom has been told too. No £700 / hr lawyers will want to touch this either because there’s likely little or no money in it for them. Yet, meanwhile, Facebook UK Ltd and Facebook Ireland Ltd are profiting from every single one of these criminal ads.⁠

I want to see it all stopped, don’t you?

Surely the UK media should be helping people like me to get Facebook to behave properly, not just shrugging their shoulders? Right now, no-one is listening at all.

What Do I Hope For Here?

Firstly, I hope it will convince MPs reading this that the UK Parliament has a job to do re: forcing UK-registered companies to have an address in the UK, at least one director living permanently in the UK, and for all companies to have a working landline telephone number. That would solve at least some of the problems with these China-based criminals (and as far as I am concerned,Facebook should be forced in law to have an operating UK landline number for the UK public to use too).

Secondly, I hope it will convince The Guardian, the Daily Telegraph and The Times’ senior editors that they can no longer turn their back on this story. They were all told weeks ago about this, yet not one has had the courtesy to even acknowledge me. Shame on them (thus far at least). Sure, it may not be as ‘sexy’ a story as Cambridge Analytica, but the sheer volume of criminal activity that Facebook is effectively aiding and abetting should be on every one of their front pages at some point.

Thirdly, I hope it will convince the UK Police that their “Action Fraud Team” is utterly hopeless when it comes to dealing with these scams. I reported all this to Action Fraud weeks ago and heard nothing from them. No-one ever does.

Fourthly I hope this letter will convince all readers that Facebook is currently acting as little better than a feral and squalid nuisance that needs a very serious rap on the knuckles for effectively aiding and abetting crime; one that will hurt them financially, with Facebook facing the bill for any losses directly due to its incompetence and arrogance, not us.

Last but not least, so you can verify everything I’ve said so far, please see below the letter I sent to Facebook Ireland Ltd this morning via the Facebook reporting platform. All the links are there. Every single one of these adverts is making the criminals money and making Facebook money too. I hope it’s useful.

I hope you’d agree now that this appalling corporate behaviour by Facebook must be stopped. If so, you can help. So please do. In any way you can.

Sincerely,

Mark Birkett
Rochdale

+++++++++++++++++++

(Reported to Facebook on 13th August 2021)

DEFINITE scam adverts / advertisers:

⁠suneveryday.co.uk
LABUBU scam – https://www.suneveryday.co.uk/pages/contact-us.html⁠
Negative reviews – https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/suneveryday.co.uk )
Facebook video link – https://fb.watch/7m1BiwbapX/ )
(Hosted by GODADDY)

⁠warmyard.co.uk
Another LABUBU scam – https://www.warmyard.co.uk/pages/contact-us.html
Negative reviews – https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/www.warmyard.co.uk
Facebook video link – https://fb.watch/7m1scwaR7F/⁠
(Hosted by GODADDY)

⁠luvtoo.co.uk
Another LABUBU scam – https://www.luvtoo.co.uk/pages/contact.html⁠
Negative reviews – https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/luvtoo.co.uk
Facebook video link – https://fb.watch/7m1bo5noHm/ )
(Hosted by GODADDY)

⁠fanshome.co.uk
Another LABUBU scam – https://www.fanshome.co.uk/pages/contact-us.html⁠
Negative reviews – https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/fanshome.co.uk⁠
Facebook video link – https://fb.watch/7m16qtuDqh/⁠
(Hosted by GODADDY)

⁠shinence.co.uk
Another LABUBU scam – https://shinence.co.uk/pages/about-us.html
Negative reviews – https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/www.shinence.co.uk⁠
Facebook video link – https://fb.watch/7m127qH5E0/⁠
(Hosted by GODADDY)

⁠magicin.co.uk
Another Labubu scam – https://www.magicin.co.uk/pages/contact-us.html
Facebook video link – https://fb.watch/7m0XhRS0Dk/⁠
(Hosted by GODADDY)

⁠clapfun.co.uk
Another LABUBU scam – https://www.clapfun.co.uk/pages/contact-us.html⁠
Negative reviews – https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/clapfun.co.uk
Facebook video link – https://fb.watch/7m0MFIjo99/
(Hosted by GODADDY)

⁠funnday.co.uk
Another LABUBU scam – https://www.funnday.co.uk/pages/contact-us.html
Facebook video link – https://fb.watch/7m0yvxo2ds/⁠
(Hosted by GODADDY)
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Outdoor Professional @ Wales Outdoors, Model @ Cardiff Life Model Colective and Published Poet @ Self...