Are you a Temu shopper? Those tempting offers may come with a hidden price tag (2024)

Local News

By Keith Jones

/ CBS Miami

MIAMI - Social media influencers are bragging about amazing "Temu hauls" all over YouTube. One YouTuber shows off a smartwatch she claims is identical to an Apple watch in looks and functionality for less than $15.

The disclaimer? They're paid by, or partnered with, Temu.

Scroll the site or app of this China-based company and you see ridiculously low prices on anything from clothes to appliances, to electronics, to items you have to read about to figure out.

"Yes, my cat needed a water fountain," laughed Nick Casanueva. "She didn't end up liking it, but it's OK. I gave it a shot anyway."

Casanueva is a student at Miami Dade College. He says he paid $2 for it.

When his head isn't in the books, it's on the Temu app looking for his own "haul," and every friend group has a nick.

Casanueva said, "I was that really annoying friend for a couple of weeks that was sending links and asking people to sign up for it. And eventually, I got enough people to sign up. They gave me some stuff for free".

His freebie? A light saber complete with six different color choices and noise-making capabilities. And remember that smartwatch is almost identical to the Apple watch?

"There is a very old saying. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is," warns attorney David Weinstein.

Class action lawsuits against Temu

CBS News Miami had Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor, go through two different class action lawsuits filed against Temu and its parent company, Whaleco.

One lawsuit was out of Illinois, the other out of New York. Both have since merged and both allege the same shady practices by Temu.

Weinstein said, "What is happening? This is a class action about people who had identity theft."

According to the lawsuits, Temu has "A complete arsenal of tools to exfiltrate virtually all the private data on a user's device," and it gains access to "literally everything on your phone."

Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, who sits on the Congressional Executive Commission on China wrote a letter to Homeland Security alleging: "Temu's data gathering may be even more dangerous than Tiktok's."

If what's in these lawsuits is true, Weinstein says, "it has the potential to ruin financial lives."

"You're going to be buried in paperwork. You're going to have two and three-factor authentication," said Weinstein. "You're going to have trouble applying for credit. You're going to have trouble accessing your bank account. You're probably going to have trouble filing your taxes because someone else has logged in and taken your social security number."

CBS News Miami reached out to Temu for a response, which it tendered within a couple of days.

"We categorically deny the allegations in the lawsuits - and intend to vigorously defend ourselves against them," Temu said in a statement.

Temu partnered with "...cybersecurity agency Hackerone to offer a bug bounty program," joining Facebook, Google and Amazon which also use Hackerone.

Finally, Temu says it's "... working with the BBB to address customer concerns, which are on par with comparable companies." Temu calls the allegations "meritless," and that's good enough for Nick.

He reconciles his cavalier attitude, with perhaps, a reasonable argument to keep shopping"like a billionaire."

"Day in, day out you hear of big companies having privacy breaches. So, to me, it's just another company having a privacy breach. I mean AT&T just had one and they sent out mass amount of emails to people saying hey your information may have been leaked. What's another one?," Casanueva said.

CBS News Miami reached out to the influencers in this piece for comment on the lawsuits, but as of publication no comment has been issued.

Temu wants the case to be arbitrated but the people suing them are fighting that move in court.

We'll keep watching this case for you and let you know how it turns out.

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Keith Jones

Keith Jones is an award-winning journalist who has covered major stories from both the anchor desk and the field. Keith anchors the weekend mornings and reports during the week for CBS4 News.

Are you a Temu shopper? Those tempting offers may come with a hidden price tag (2024)
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