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How I Got Scammed By a Seller On Alibaba

Published 11/13/07 (Modified 3/8/11)
By MoneyBlueBook

I debated about whether I should share this story, but at the end I decided that my experience might help prevent someone from falling into the same scam as I did. At the time I was young, inexperienced and financially naive. Since then, I've learned and improved based on my past failures and eventually went on to run a small but profitable home business by making money online with ebay, at least for a modest period of time.

It All Started With Too Much Greed

Shortly after college I decided I wanted to start a part time side business selling merchandise on eBay. But first I needed to find a wholesale supplier. After some research I decided I wanted to focus on consumer electronics such as GPS navigation devices and Apple iPods, and concluded my best bet at finding a supplier would be through a free network site like Alibaba, that helps connect sellers with buyers of goods. Little did I know at the time, but sites like Alibaba are crawling with scammers and evil doers.

I ultimately decided to focus on selling Garmin and Tom Tom branded GPS units. After a few searches, I was amazed to find numerous sellers offering brand new Garmin GPS units for very little money. The Garmin GPS model I was interested in buying in bulk retailed for more than $1200 on eBay at the time. The sellers I found on Alibaba were offering each unit for only $700 each. The asking prices were exceedingly low, but sadly I was too overcome with dollar signs in my head to realize that the offers were likely too good to be true. I essentially had blinders on and was too busy calculating all the profit I was going to make by selling these units for such high markup. Eventually I narrowed down a potential seller.

Greed Prevented Me From Recognizing the Warning Flags

When you are overcome with greed, it is hard to think clearly, even when a clearly fraudulent transaction is staring at you in the face. I should have been more aware of all the telltale signs that the seller was likely a potential scammer and a fraud. First of all, the seller provided me contact information based in Indonesia, a country like Nigeria that is notorious for being a hotbed of scammer activity. He also provided very limited company background information that could be used to verify his personal or business identity, or determine his true geographical location. The phone number he provided me did indeed work, but I should have realized that nowadays with VOIP technology, phone number locations are very easily faked. It's easy to reside in one country and still obtain a temporary, disposable local phone number from another. Even paid identity authentication and verification services are subject to abuse and illegal manipulation as well. It's not all that difficult for online scammers on Alibaba or any other Internet exchange service to obtain a genuine TrustPass or Alibaba Gold Membership certification using falsified identification.

Another thing that should have raised red flags was the fact that the seller offered to pay for shipping, which is an extremely unusual practice for first time wholesale purchases, especially since international shipping can be quite expensive. The seller also insisted on rushing the sale, frequently threatening to end the lucrative deal if I continued to demand more verification information and not move forward with payment. But otherwise, the scammer was extremely convincing in the way he portrayed the deal as completely legitimate. Rather than thinking that the sale was a scam, I just thought I was getting an excellent deal.

Because I was so motivated by greedy emotions, I was more fearful of losing the lucrative buy than I was of being scammed. There were so many warning signs that I simply ignored, such as the seller refusing to accept Paypal or even credit card payment. Instead, he demanded payment through bank wire transfer. If I had conducted more due diligence, I would have known that unlike Paypal or credit card transactions where my money would have been protected, bank wire transactions are permanent and irreversible once properly executed.

I Fell For the Trap - Hook, Line, and Sinker

Ultimately I sent him over $2,025.00 through bank wire transfer for 3 sample Garmin GPS units. Once he had the money, he disappeared without a trace. I attempted to contact him through the phone number he provided me, but the line had been disconnected. He never responded back to my e-mails and I never received the merchandise. My money was gone and I never recovered it.

Afterwards, I felt very stupid and ashamed, but I learned many valuable lessons as a result. I'm glad I experienced this hard knock life lesson earlier in my life when the potential stakes were lower. I thought something like this could never possibly happen to me, but it did, and I allowed my greedy emotions to get in the way of rational caution. You and I, we may think we're very smart and that we're so clever, but we are only human, and still susceptible to basic human emotional irrationality. It's difficult to control emotions like greed, fear, and pride. So my friends, it's important to always stay vigilant - scammers are everywhere and one day you might be in their cross hairs too.

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296 Responses to “How I Got Scammed By a Seller On Alibaba” 

  1. Daniel says:

    Raymond I am willing to send you the emails if you like! Perhaps there is way to post the dialogue had with him to show how nice he can be and very trusting! Then he rapes you!

  2. rod parkes says:

    i was going to try alibaba myself and have put up some buying leads in the hope of starting a little ebay home business myself.i have not as yet bought anything from alibaa but have noticed it has started advertising on mainstream tv,several adverts have been on itv 1 in recent weeks.now it is more visible maybe they will start screening their sellers to get rid of the thieves.as a to anyone would be to try to deal with sellers in their own country at least if you live in england and you get scammed you may be able to put the matter in the hands of trading standards,maybe they could help.anyway im sure there are lots of genuine sellers our there willing to help the new business comunity get started.

  3. Matt says:

    Thank you very much for your help. I was minutes away from committing to a deal which I thought was 'too good to be true' but my greed was also getting the best of me. Thank you for bringing me back down to earth.

  4. Melisa says:

    I tried to buy something from alibaba, and in the end I found the seller was a fake company. Lucky me, somehow the transfer didn't work out. Then I tried Aliexpress, I got a fake product. And I can't get my money back even I tried to open a dispute with Aliexpress. Aliexpress protects the sellers even they know the seller sell fake products.

  5. Rooster says:

    I was scammed by Alibaba. I needed a GPS antenna that had become obsolete. So a Google search brought me to thier seller, Vincent Wang. He showed me a pictureo f what I needed, took my $97, and never sent the item.

    Around and around in circles, he would not refund the money. Luckily, I had used American Express and PayPal, so this thief will not get paid.

    Beware of thee scammers, I am a bit ashamed of myself, as I think we have all heard the stories of "Alibabba and the Forty Thieves" yet I still fell for the scam.

    Rooster

  6. Rooster says:

    Also of note to my blog, above:

    The Alibaba scammer kept trying to get me to "confirm receipt" of the false shipment. If I had done so, American Express and PayPal would not have been able to refund my $97.

    SO BEWARE!!!!

    Best to all,

    Rooster

  7. George says:

    Deviansyah k manoch asli penipu.....dia janji akan balikin uang saya tp sampai saat ini bulan september 2010....tdk ada bukti.
    tgl 7 januari 2010 bertemu dengan devian di bandar jakarta ancol dan terjadi serah terima uang sebesar 10 jt dan esoknya 20 jt via transfer bank rek mandiri, dijanjikan seminggu barang pesanan berupa hp iphone 3GS datang. ternyata setelah seminggu barang tdk dtg, dgn alasan cuaca saat pengiriman dr amrik ke indonesia jelek...sdg tracking number DHL yg diberikan oleh jeff alvarez yang katanya rekan devian tdk sesuai dan tdk terdaftar di DHL. Saya cek ke DHL pusat ternyata pihak DHL tdk pernah memberikan tracking number spt itu .....dari DHL berjumlah 11 digit sedang dari devian hanya 9 digit....saya yakin jeff dan devian adalah org yg sama.
    saya biarkan sampai masuk bulan february.....dia janji akan nbalikan uang saya itu....saat terakhir saya telp dia janji akan transfer.....dia janji akan cicil namun sampai saat ini tdk ada kabar bahkan no hp dia tdk aktiffff...jika devian membaca artikel saya ini...kalo anda manusia beriman cepat selesaikan ...dan tepati janji anda.... buat rekan rekan YG PERNAH JADI KORBAN DARI SI DEVIANSYAH K MANOCH...KALIAN MUNGKIN BLM PERNAH BERTEMU ATAU LIHAT SPT APA ORGNYA...TAPI SAYA SDH PERNAH BERTEMU DAN ADA KTP JG FOTO DIA...
    MKN SAAT INI DIA MENCOBA MENGHILANG, DGN MENGGANTI NAMA ATAU APA SAJA.
    YG INGIN TAU BAGAIMANA MODEL NI ORG.....SILAKAN KIRIM EMAIL...SAYA AKAN KIRIM PHOTO ORG INI,...YG MUNGKIN SDH LAMA KALIAN CARI....DAN MUNGKIN PERNAH BERTEMU ATAU JADI TETANGGA ANDA..
    JIKA MELIHAT SERAHKAN PADA KNTR POLISI TERDEKAT....BERKASD BERKAS DIA SDH DI PROSES OLEH PIHAK BERWAJIB....

  8. knight says:

    October 25th, 2009 at 4:39 pm
    Look at this guys.

    I wanted to buy some Iphones from a Chinese company(my bad) and I event wanted to send the money but I searched the net and found this great blog and after dat had a instant message conversation on Alibaba��take a look at the result,the company name is:Hefei Xinlongyu Trade Co., Ltd and the SCAMERS Bank data is:

    his is our payment:
    telegraphic transfer:
    Beneficiary institution: bank of china
    Swift code: bkchcnbj780
    Beneficiary Name: dajun zhang
    beneficiary's account: 495480020015351
    address: hefei city , anhui province, china
    ������������������������������������

    Caradaica Nicolae: Hello (2009-10-25 13:26:03)

    Caradaica Nicolae: What is your price for Iphone 3g 8Gb (2009-10-25 13:26:16)

    weiwei herm: 240$ (2009-10-25 13:26:50)
    Caradaica Nicolae: Please tell me what are your bussines hours (2009-10-25 13:27:53)

    weiwei herm: 24hours (2009-10-25 13:28:02)
    Caradaica Nicolae: I will send a friend to you to pick up the phone (2009-10-25 13:28:08)

    weiwei herm: no (2009-10-25 13:28:28)

    weiwei herm: our iphone is in usa (2009-10-25 13:28:33)

    Caradaica Nicolae: so you send it form the USA (2009-10-25 13:28:53)

    Caradaica Nicolae: ? (2009-10-25 13:29:09)

    weiwei herm: yes (2009-10-25 13:29:07)

    Caradaica Nicolae: what city (2009-10-25 13:29:14)

    Caradaica Nicolae: I have many bussines partners in the USA
    also (2009-10-25 13:29:23)

    weiwei herm: ny (2009-10-25 13:29:28)

    Caradaica Nicolae: do you have an address (2009-10-25 13:29:39)

    weiwei herm: yes (2009-10-25 13:29:45)

    Caradaica Nicolae: please give it to me and I will find somebody to pick up the phone (2009-10-25 13:30:04)

    weiwei herm: ok,fuck u (2009-10-25 13:30:10)

    Caradaica Nicolae: SCAMER (2009-10-25 13:30:19)

    weiwei herm: fuck u (2009-10-25 13:30:24)

    weiwei herm: shit (2009-10-25 13:30:26)

    Caradaica Nicolae: (2009-10-25 13:30:29)

    Caradaica Nicolae: why are you Scamming people (2009-10-25 13:30:42)

    Caradaica Nicolae: are you not afraid that God will punish you (2009-10-25 13:30:54)

    Caradaica Nicolae: it's just not good Karma (2009-10-25 13:31:03)

    Caradaica Nicolae: ok I whish for you to live in interesting times (2009-10-25 13:31:17)

    Caradaica Nicolae: bye (2009-10-25 13:31:19)

    Bogdan Says:
    October 25th, 2009 at 4:56 pm
    Before this they offered my IPHONE 3GS 32GB for 270USD

    Mr. 200 Says:
    November 2nd, 2009 at 7:09 pm
    I'm impressed by you being able to write about it like this. Usually people feel too ashamed to even think about it.

    Anyellow Says:
    November 3rd, 2009 at 3:19 am
    I am quite impressed with all these terrible story above, and I really want to thank Raymond to do this job, I am a Chinese and I have a question? Chinese People always work over time for the overseas country like USA, EUROPEAN COUNTRIES etc. When you people buy the textile products and the other labor integration products , do you guys ever have conscience for our human rights or our living standard? China Domestic Manufacture are desperate to Alibaba, things like that are not a real revolution but a cheating. As you can see, real supplier don't get customer easy, and fake scamer can even rip the real customer off. What an great easiest way to do business!

  9. Roger says:

    There is a growing problem with Alibaba on how they conduct business. Many of the scammers using Alibaba can get some credibility by paying Alibaba a reasonable amount of money, and that gives them the status of becoming a Gold Member and Address Verified. This gives the new Gold member Company time to line up some good scam deals. They can make large amounts of money before Alaibaba will then take down their web site and their ability to use trade manager. This is a win win situation for the scam company and Alibaba. The scam company can get around ten times profit on there investment with Alibaba, and Alibaba has made a good profit from the issuing the Gold Membership to the scam Company. I beleive the Chinese Government should be looking seriously at having Alibaba banned from the internet.

    The only one who misses out is the individual or company that has sent money for purchasing goods from the company. My experience was I sent $4,800 for goods but in the time I sent the money Alibaba removed all contact I could have with the scam company. Alibaba was worse than the scam company in that they don't care how much money is in the pipeline waiting for clearance through the Chinese banks, in that no investigation occurs warning a trader who have made payments that they are about to remove the web site of the company and disable the communication between the buyer and seller. Does anyone have some Idea how this can be made more public.

  10. alfa romeo says:

    alibaba .com and ali express.com are parasite website and fully fraud company.all seller are fake only one person sitting behind the pc with different company names and profile .he will answe yoy as a female .you can see beoutifull picture as well.careful they all are scammer.once you pay them they will shit down that trading company and open with other name.dont get cheated by gold member,all are fraud.i even order a small order to check they have posted(that phone worked only 2 weeks)then i order bit big amount,,lost the money .never pay via direct deposit or westren union to any chinees web site internet seller.all are fraud.

  11. pacco says:

    # rod parkes Says:
    September 2nd, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    i was going to try alibaba myself and have put up some buying leads in the hope of starting a little ebay home business myself.i have not as yet bought anything from alibaa but have noticed it has started advertising on mainstream tv,several adverts have been on itv 1 in recent weeks.now it is more visible maybe they will start screening their sellers to get rid of the thieves.as a to anyone would be to try to deal with sellers in their own country at least if you live in england and you get scammed you may be able to put the matter in the hands of trading standards,maybe they could help.anyway im sure there are lots of genuine sellers our there willing to help the new business comunity get started.
    # Matt Says:
    September 7th, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Thank you very much for your help. I was minutes away from committing to a deal which I thought was 'too good to be true' but my greed was also getting the best of me. Thank you for bringing me back down to earth.
    # Melisa Says:
    September 8th, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    I tried to buy something from alibaba, and in the end I found the seller was a fake company. Lucky me, somehow the transfer didn't work out. Then I tried Aliexpress, I got a fake product. And I can't get my money back even I tried to open a dispute with Aliexpress. Aliexpress protects the sellers even they know the seller sell fake products.
    # Rooster Says:
    September 9th, 2010 at 11:38 am

    I was scammed by Alibaba. I needed a GPS antenna that had become obsolete. So a Google search brought me to thier seller, Vincent Wang. He showed me a pictureo f what I needed, took my $97, and never sent the item.

    Around and around in circles, he would not refund the money. Luckily, I had used American Express and PayPal, so this thief will not get paid.

    Beware of thee scammers, I am a bit ashamed of myself, as I think we have all heard the stories of 'Alibabba and the Forty Thieves' yet I still fell for the scam.

    Rooster
    # Rooster Says:
    September 9th, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Also of note to my blog, above:

    The Alibaba scammer kept trying to get me to 'confirm receipt' of the false shipment. If I had done so, American Express and PayPal would not have been able to refund my $97.

    SO BEWARE!!!!

    Best to all,

    Rooster

  12. Peter Nuss says:

    Yep... "Alibaba and the forty thieves" is an accurate description.

    I was scammed by Rando Tulong (company -> Deras Laku .PT) for $1300 USD over 2 ICS masonry chainsaws. Notified Alibaba and they removed his account. Logged into the Alibaba site and found 2 more Indonesian accounts selling the same item and sounding very familiar. Checked their phone numbers and they didn't work. Notified Alibaba again and these were also removed.

    I reckon I could spend a whole month trawling through the site and pointing out scammers. The question is why dosen't the site management do this? I think the answer is obvious.

    Love to be able to lodge legal action against the website as they fail to carry out basic checks against supplier's account information. Surely they have some responsibility?

    Anyway live and learn. You are all absolutely correct - greed can make you blind. In my case I intended to use the chainsaws for my own backyard work and not resell it but I suppose that's no excuse. I blame myself fully.

    Cheers everyone and if anyone can provide info on how to catch/prosecute these Indonesian (Medan City, Sumartra) scammers or the website they operate through let me know.

    Keep on keeping on.

  13. InsideAlibaba says:

    This site is used by swindlers, they receive money, the order doesn't send. Take measures, stop swindlers.

    I can send all documents of payment confirmation.

    http://www.hk-yamaha.com

    Domain name: hk-yamaha.com

    Registrant Contact:
    linhao
    hao lin 505175638@qq.com
    +86.5949696856
    putian
    putian fujian 351100
    cn

    Administrative Contact:
    hao lin 505175638@qq.com
    +86.5949696856
    putian fujian 351100
    cn

    DNS:
    ns5.cnmsn.net
    ns6.cnmsn.net

  14. MarGen says:

    Beware buyers! don't ever ever buy on aliexpress or alibaba. I've been scammed on aliexpress store name THE EAST INTERNATIONAL EXPORT CORPORATION (KBOE MA) STORE NO: 203636 name of the thief: SHUAIJIANG WU . The seller is very kind at first, answering all my queries and even promised to include a free gift. I paid him thru WESTERN UNION but after he receives the money he never answers my emails and he even blocks me from chatting on his store site. I threatened him to tell it to aliexpress but he told me that he does not care. He even sends nasty emails and racist comments about Filipinos. That f*#@$%* doesn't have a conscience. I reported him already on aliexpress and even sent our email conversations as evidence.So please warn others not to trust on sites like aliexpress and alibaba. Full of scammers and thieves!!

  15. Sam says:

    Oh my god! This has been the most entertaining blog I've ever read! I've literally been here for HOURS reading all this stuff from start to finish. However I should clarify, while yes it's been extremely entertaining (this could actually make a decent book!), I feel deep sympathy for people who have been swindled by this Devian bastard. The best part of it all is, as you can see him come in under one different name after the other, first pretending to be other people saying they got a good deal then after giving up on that idea coming on again as himself (even though the alter-egos resurface now and again), you can always tell it's him. It's so obvious, he has the most unique and telling form of broken English, it's as good as a fingerprint. But as I was saying, the BEST bit is, as he comes on over and over again throughout the YEARS (this is over 3 years old now!) you can almost taste his desperation as this blog bit by bit destroys his scamming activities. Even eventually admitting that he scammed Raymond. I applaud you Raymond. You have definately gotten at least a partial revenge (although I agree with the much earlier post saying this guy needs to be murdered (even I'd donate a few bob to the hitman fund and he hasn't even ripped me off!)). If you even google Alibaba you end up being led here. You quashed any chance of him ever achieving any major success with his deviant, criminal theivery. It's so funny and awesome. I love seeing justice at work! HE thinks he's so much smarter that everyone else but he's such a total fool! And the fact that he doesn't realise that EVERYONE can see through his bullshit lies like a pane of glass is hilarious! I love it! Man you guys got him wrapped up real good. I hope he's starving on his $75 a month from the Cybercafe now that Raymond and Co. wrecked his evil, criminal games. What a douche. It just goes to show... Karma ALWAYS catches up. I'm sure he's got a lot worse coming his way. I can imagine the horror and heartbreak everyone suffered when he stole their hard-earned money. The reason I found this blog is because I'm in the same boat trying to save to outlay on some initial stock to try and start a small business. Here we are trying to improve our lot in life and that CUNT (I know that's an awful word but if anyone deserves it it's Devian) steals it from us! And now we're back at square one and buttsore for our efforts. He deserves death. Seriously. And the damage he's doing to honest hardworking Indonesians, it's morally bankrupt to put it mildly.

    Anyway, I realis that this blog has slowed significantly since February this year and most of the regulars have floated off back to their regular lives, but I'll ask anyway. I read one report on here of a woman getting shafted on Alibaba over shoes and that's the closest to my market (women's apparel). Is that indicative of the Chinese apparel market on Alibaba? I know 99.9% of people on here got done with electronics. Is it worth investigating?

    I can guarentee that this blog is a god-send for someone in my position. I have learnt so much on the criminal world of scamming wholesalers. I trust that I'll know what to do now to be safe (well safer) in my endevours. Lesson: extreme paranoia is a GOOD thing.

  16. Keith says:

    I bought or rather l was led to believe l bought a new Minelab Glod Detector last week around the 15th December 2010. The company name is BINTANG DETECTOR INC and the people involved are Mr stepan andreas or Andy Christian (if thats his real name). I transfered us$1250 into an account with the following details: BANK NAME : Bank Negara Indonesia Account Number : Andy Christian Account Number : 0117448928 IBAN/SwiftCode :BNINIDJA Bank Branch : Kcu Sudirman City : Jakarta Country : Indonesia Message IP Address:114.124.201.* Address: JI Pasar Baru II 5I,Padang,25162,Indonesia Please let me know how l can get my money back. I have just found out they used a fake website for me to track the package that was meant to be delivered to South Africa. Please warn other buyers of this company or take it away from the site altogether

  17. Bud says:

    Having read all your scams the same is very true here . Having order a trike from Kunming Clustering Way Electronics Technology and taking the precautionary steps of doing it through a International Wire Transfer to the Bank of China they still screwed me out of the $1159 for it. All seemed well and they sent me the shipping details ( all false ) but then sent me to the GMSC Shahat Shipping lines who tried to get me for another $400 for Insurance. I have had the US Maritime Commissioner verify that all this shipping stuff was false but could do nothing more than that for me.I have had the FBI-FTC-FCC-OIG- Chinese Consulate who have done nothing even when knowing these are scammers. So my advice is to NEVER ORDER ANYTHING FROM CHINA UNLESS THEY WILL TAKE AN ESCROW ACCOUNT TO BE RELEASED WHEN YOU RECEIVE THE GOODS. That is how E-Bay protects you. I now have it in the hands of Interpol as a last resort.
    I understand that Alibaba is own by a Chines Gentlemen so does that give you a clue.

  18. Jon says:

    There maybe good reasons why someone lives in Padang, but opens a bank account on a different island, two hours flying time away, in Jakarta.
    I can't think of any though. Suspicion is aroused.
    A Google maps search can find legitimate business adresses.

  19. shane says:

    MS HONEY FU/HK JYM ELECTRONICS CO.LTD is a scum (doubt its a real name)
    Beware!
    interesting fact: if you search for laptops from HK 99% different companies adresses are listed in the same adress on alibaba.com
    Shame on You Ms FU!!!!

  20. namerequired says:

    A couple of telltale sign to indicate the deal is a scam. 1. Price too good to be true. 2. Wire Transfer, TT, or Bank in as payment method, rejects other payment method such as Paypal (they will give a lot of reason to not use Paypal) 3. Deal is posted on untrusted platform, that does not have customer protection mechanism, or dedicated customer support. 4. Do a WHOIS query website and their creation date is recent.

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