As blogs and flashlight communities call this scam out by name, it just mutates like a virus. This same flashlight sells under at least a dozen different internet domains where each one makes nearly identical, ridiculous claims.
All I have to do to find variations of this ad is to review the ads that Google has picked out for my own blog. If I didn’t check for new variations, my own blog would be serving up these ads, tricking people into paying $75 for a flashlight you can order straight from China for about $3 to $8.
What I’m noticing about these variations are that they seem to be widening their focus on the UK and Australia.
The claims are almost identical, with only slight variations, about “amazing military technology” “finally available to public” that’s “bright enough to blind a bear” and “used by Navy SEALs” and other tripe.
Below I see a new ad domain when I use the ad review tool Google gives me. I noticed most of the ads for this domain were text ads.
The problem for the scammers is that even though they change the names of the domains they serve this thing up from, they still have all this stock where they paid a Chinese manufacturer to brand these with G700 and X800.
So, even though it might be called “Tactical X800” or “Military X800” or “Shadowhawk X800” or whatever it’s called, it will always be a variation on one of those few model numbers.
The biggest problems right now for consumers are a) the “sock puppet” reviews acting like this cheap Chinese flashlight lives up to its ridiculous claims and b) the fact that all these ads mutate and spinoff into endless domain names that all appear to the ad networks to be completely new ads. Notice how some of the photos change slightly to confuse Google’s analytics.
Below is another whole set of new ads from yet another new domain.
“Controversial Military Flashlight Now Available To The Public”
…and I have a very expensive bridge to sell you…
Also notice they took the product name off the ads themselves, making it harder to search to see if it’s a scam without clicking through.
This new variation below seems aimed at Australia. Also notice it’s an Adsense ad which points directly to a blog, which is unusual. It doesn’t look to me at least to be a legitimate blog. And why would a legitimate blog spam the Internet with the strikingly similar ads using the exact same photos as other variations of the scam? Congrats, Australia, you’ve been targeted as being gullible.
The blog article from the above ad shows “Amazing New Military Flashlights in Australia: Our Top 4” and shows a photo of several fairly well respected flashlights. My guess is that they lifted images from legitimate reviews on the BLF of CPF flashlight communities. Go to one of those communities and ask them about these ads!
Anyway, the “review” mentions 4 and shows 4 in the top photo, but if you scroll down, you see that a 5th flashlight … you guessed it … the X800 has “won” the review as the best flashlight. It looks like they almost took a real review and just added their own at the end. I read a thread on BLF where someone was mad these guys “borrowed” their photos.
Note that the “blog” portion of the site only has two articles, and also notice that it has a small store where you can buy the well respected flashlights shown in their photo. That’s hedging your bets! Though I’m sure Fenix or Zebralight aren’t going to give them quite the markup that putting a $6 flashlight into that lineup. I originally paid $100 for my Sunwayman V11R which is shown in their photo, which I reviewed almost 4 years ago! So let’s just say that selling you a $6 flashlight for $5 is a nice little score for them, provided you fall for the “amazing military” part.
Update: The scammers behind Shadowhawk have been exposed and now I know who they are and other scams they’ve done.
Update 8/26/2016: Shadowhawk is now using geo-location to tell people the police in their particular city are urging people to buy their product.