It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like Scam Us – Beware Xmas Shopping Online

It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like Scam Us – Beware Xmas Shopping Online


Avoid losing your money to others looking to make a quick profit this Christmas

Well, it’s that time of year again. The run up to Christmas. It may not be as exciting as previous years, but thankfully we still have a holiday to look forward to. It’s around about this time that people will do their Christmas shopping, and now more than ever, a lot of it will be online.

Sadly, the good spirited nature of the season doesn’t spread as far and wide as we’d like to think. The online world can be very predatory to those who aren’t fully aware of the fact. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of surprising loved ones with splendid gifts or treating yourself to some seemingly lucrative business opportunities.

Well, this post is here to catch you up to speed. People want to cheat you out of your money this Christmas, and this year you will not let it happen!

If It’s Too Good To Be True, It’s A Pyramid Scheme

As the year 2020 painfully drags on, I’ve noticed a trend on social media that caught my eye.
Someone I followed on Instagram promoted a health drink that claimed to benefit the body in a list of ways. These unbranded coffees and juices somehow aid sleep and weight loss, boost your energy levels, increase your metabolism AND suppress hunger cravings. Sounds like a miracle in a glass for someone who wants to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle.

At the time I laughed it off because there is no way one drink can do all of this by adding the sachet of powder to some water. You can’t replace eating well and taking care of yourself by downing a glass of unbranded juice every morning. I thought after seeing that first post that I’d never really come across it again. How wrong I was.

Fast forward a month or two and the same unbranded “health products” start popping up on my Instagram again. Now a handful of individuals are promoting these products and praising the company behind it to no end.

So, I’m just cynical, right? These young people have taken the plunge on a business investment on a relatively new company. I’m just jealous that they’re riding the wave of success and I’m not.

I decided then to give these posts the benefit of the doubt. I paid attention to every single post I come across that mentions these miracle drinks.
Again, I noticed a trend:

·      In all the promotional material I’ve seen, a company or brand name is never mentioned even once. It’s always, “My company,” or “Our company.”

·      These people promote the business with the same generalised work benefits. You can work around your own schedule, there are seven ways to earn, and you can reap amazing bonuses like brand new high-end cars that the company will partly pay for.

·      The posts will ask poll questions like, “Do you want to hear more?” or “Do you want to start a new job?” The problem being that the only two answers to the polls are different ways of agreeing to the question asked.






This nameless company however has a name. If you were to look closely enough at the products being advertised, you’ll see the name Valentus.

If you google Valentus, the first result is their own website. It shows all the ways you can either buy their products or purchase their starter kit to sell items yourself for profit.

All the results following that, however, don’t paint the company in the same positive light.  

If you were to look up Valentus on the online forum site Reddit, for example, it only contains anecdotes about how they are a scam company and the people promoting it are only doing so to negate their own initial investment.

If you see anyone trying to promote any kind of product like this, or company like this, do not enquire about it. They will pander this investment to you. They are deceiving you to make a profit for themselves, so you’re left out of pocket, with junk product to sell.

Item Is Currently Out of Stock. Everywhere.

 Then there is a different breed of opportunist for emptying your wallets this festive season. Scalpers.

 Every year, there is always that must have product. In years gone by it was pieces of tech such as the Nintendo Wii or the original iPod Touch.
For 2020, the moniker for must have product falls on to the new PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.

These products don’t even have an age demographic. I know ten-year-olds that have them on their Christmas list and people forty plus who want one. I want a PlayStation myself.

From my experience, this is probably one of the more reasonably priced launches of a new gaming console. For example, the PlayStation 5 can start at around £350 in the U.K. depending on what version you buy.

It may sound steep but go back thirteen years ago to the launch of the PlayStation 3, and that would set you back £425.

Although that price is meaningless if you can’t even get your hands on one. The PS5 launched on November 19th in the U.K. How long did it take to sell out entirely? Mere hours.

So, your child is begging you for the newest gaming console, but everywhere you look is out of stock. Naturally, you then check sites like eBay and Gumtree to see what you can find.

The penny drops.

These sites are over-saturated with hundreds of listings of either console, but not at retail value. The lowest you’re going to see is about £800.

Scalpers wait until launch day and have measures in place to scoop up as many units as they can. This then forces a monopoly onto the public who desperately need these products for Christmas. Making the scalpers almost triple their initial investment.

My advice for any parents out there who have children begging for these consoles. You will not get one by Christmas for a reasonable price. Please don’t indulge these selfish scalpers and help them make a profit. Come the new year, they will produce more units. These scalpers will fade away if given time, just wait it out. Waiting one more month and saving £500 is just plain sensible.

Just Be Careful Out There

No one needs any added misery this Christmas time. So wherever you may do your shopping this year, keep your head about you. Buy from reputable retailers and always research what someone is trying to sell you.
A more stress-free Christmas will make all the turkey sandwiches taste better.



Rory Skillen is a fourth year BSc student in Communication Management and Public Relations at Ulster University. He can be found on LinkedIn.

Covid19 – It’s Made Me A Better Student.

Covid19 – It’s Made Me A Better Student.

The world isn’t what it used to be. The past eight months or so have changed what we consider to be everyday normality.

For someone like myself, a student, I found the whole experience so far to be pretty surreal. One day I’m paying rent for a house so close to the train that you could slap the Translink logo. The next I’m moving back home to a fully stocked fridge and free heating because the city is in lockdown.

Whilst there is no denying how horrible the events of the last year have been, I want to focus on the positives instead.

Lockdown was oddly a perfect opportunity. When else will the world come to a grinding halt to give you a chance to self-reflect? Well that is what I did (unintentionally).It made me be more proactive in both my course and improving real world attributes that will serve me down the line in career prospects. Here’s why.

It only took a pandemic…

Before Covid:

Before the pandemic hit, I would be quite confident in saying I was an average student. I would attend my classes. Take notes. I would use the library to study or get work done. Sit in traffic for longer than I can bare. Then after I get home everyone is making their dinner, watching tv, and debating are we going out tonight or studying. Add in a few shifts for my part-time job and there you have it.  Some might call that a routine, it was really more of a rut. I just didn’t realise that yet.

Looking back on all of that, I think it’s safe to say I was just going through the motions. I was getting by, but I could have been doing more.

Without realising it, I was tunnel visioned. I was working my job in retail so I could afford rent and groceries. I was paying for those things so I could have a student experience living by myself and be closer to the university. I felt like I was beginning to mature and be more responsible.

After Lockdown:

Well this is where Coronavirus comes in.

No more student house or student nights means less distractions. Online classes now mean no more mad dashes in the morning. Are my friends here or will I be sitting by myself? It sounds a bit dramatic but when you take away these small grievances, all you’re left with is the lecture. From my perspective, I found myself concentrating better. No distractions.

Now I sit in my room, headphones on, relaxed, ready to learn.

The fact that the lectures are being recorded is personally something I wish had always been around. Being able to revisit the recorded lecture to better my understanding is something I didn’t even realise I wanted or needed. Long may that continue. It might be up for debate to see if university teaching was perfect the way it was before lockdown. Or could it benefit from some slight additions or structural changes.

Furthermore, I feel like I wasn’t being productive enough before. Time spent travelling. Going out for food. With more free time in the house I feel that I’ve finally been able to devise a schedule I can work around. Even saving a few hours a week now that I’m at home, it has made me realise how to organise myself better for when life returns closer to normality.

Applying What I Know:

A lot of marketing and PR has had to go mainly digital thanks to lockdown. No better time to apply what I’ve been studying. Having extensively delved into digital communication and marketing, it’s almost free experience being handed to me. Observing the amount of social media advertising from both brands and individuals, and being able to see their effectiveness, is invaluable going forward.

One trend I’ve definitely noticed across Instagram, are young women promoting these nameless health boost juices. The media they share seems so disingenuous and pandering. It seems to target vulnerable people locked in their homes who are maybe out of work. With more and more PR taking itself online, analysing what works and what doesn’t in a crisis like this will hopefully give an edge in the future.

As far as work is concerned. My job was a typical customer assistant for a large retailer. Another module I’m studying about organisational communication couldn’t be more relevant at the moment. Organisations must evolve or they will suffer. My place of work struggled to adapt its hierarchy correctly for the current situation. That lead to ineffective management, which led to ineffective engagement from employees. In the long run the organisation has now seen a large change in workforce due to that issue. Compare that to my sister’s place of work. Recently graduated and now working in a modern adaptive organisation, both her and her team’s engagement outshines anything I’ve ever experienced at my own job. I can physically see what I’m learning be applied right in front of me. It’s a lesson I’m going to be mindful of when looking for work in the future.

Wrapping things up:

With everything that’s been said, I still want to make it clear that like everyone else, I can’t wait for Covid:19 to disappear and for normality to return. What I am thankful for is that it presented me with an opportunity to make sure I’m going into that future as prepared as I can be.

Rory Skillen is a fourth year BSc student in Communication Management and Public Relations at Ulster University. He can be found on LinkedIn.