Facebook feeds are lighting up with the hottest new cosmetics rumor: a post claiming Ulta Beauty is closing, selling out to higher priced competitor Sephora.
Find the story in your feed, click on it, and it will take you to what appears to be a People Magazine article saying you can grab free samples of Ulta's face cream before it's all gone.
But hold on: haven't we heard all this before?
Free samples come with gotchas
In the past two years, dozens of women like Peggy Moser, Gloria Pounds and Lisa Zillich have contacted me about Facebook ads for supposedly "free" cosmetic samples, for just a $4.95 shipping free (to be paid for on your credit card).
"It came on Facebook and said would you like to receive samples of high-end beauty products," Moser said. So she called and placed an order.
Gloria Pounds said: "It popped up and it had all these reviews and testimonials," referring to the sample she agreed to take.
But in every case, the sample turned into $100-a-month nightmares, because they missed the almost impossible 14-day window to cancel (you have just 14 days from the time of your order to return the product for a refund).
"It's crazy," Lisa Zillich said, looking at several hundred dollars in credit card bills.
Other ads use celebrities
The people behind these offers continually change their approach: one ad claims Joanna Gaines is leaving HGTV's show Fixer Upper to launch a cosmetics line.
Another says ABC's Robin Roberts is quitting Good Morning America to sell face cream.
In another case it's Ivanka Trump launching a face cream line.
But the hoax busting site Snopes.com says these are all "fake news" stories, connected with the same post office boxes and UPS store mail drops in California and Utah. It says there is no truth to Ulta closing.
We have tried on several occasions to reach the people behind these ads, but have never been able to get past a customer service agent.
But they weren't even very creative with the Ulta Beauty giveaway, because Ulta's so-called closeout -- Vlamorous -- is the same line Robin Roberts is supposedly selling (neither is true).
Bottom line: if you see a "free" sample of miracle face cream that will just cost you a $4.95 shipping charge, run fast, so you don't waste your money.
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