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. Raymond says:

    Sharon,

    Feel free to post some of these so-called reliable wholesale providers for us to examine if you'd like. I'd be curious to see if these sites are truly as reliable and trustworthy as you suggest. Sorry if I'm a bit skeptical...but I've been burned before and have become extremely paranoid with such matters. The world is filled with scammers, spammers, and evil schemers unfortunately.

    For those in the United States like myself, my advice is to never do online business with anyone outside of the U.S., particularly in the wholesale merchandise setting, unless you have thoroughly vetted them 1000x over. There are more built in safeguards and avenues of recourse against scammers and thieves in the states. However, once your money has been stolen by an out of country scoundrel, your options are much more limited. Always be vigilant and yes, always remember....if it sounds too good to be true...it most definitely probably is.

    Unfortunately, Sharon's profit of about $5 per high demand electronic sounds very low, but from a true business standpoint, sounds about right....margins for those type of products are notoriously low...unless you have a warehouse and can purchase huge volumes of them at wholesale bulk prices. Most of the money from eBay powersellers who market these type of products comes from buddling activity. By paring low margin items like Ipods and cell phones with high margin items like ear phones, ear pieces, and Bluetooth ear products...you help to raise the margins of your sale items overall.

  2. O'neill says:

    For those in the United States like myself, my advice is to never do online business with anyone outside of the U.S., particularly in the wholesale merchandise setting, unless you have thoroughly vetted them 1000x over.

    What a funny statement..... check this out brother Raymond....you may think twice with your own statement about country so called USA....

    SCAMMER ALERT "PCS WIRELESS"
    We are DNMA66 LLC,www.33bid.com scammed by PCS WIRELESS NEW YORK,
    ATTENTION ALL MEMBERS OF 33BID.COM
    PCS WIRELESS ,NEW YORK CELL PHONE COMPANY
    IS PROFESSIONAL SCAMMER COMPANY
    WE ORDER NEW MOBILE PHONES AND THEY SENT TO US
    USED AND FAKE PHONES.
    WE SENT BACK FOR REPLACMENT OR REFUND THEY REFUSED AND LIE ALWAYS
    WATCH OUT THIS COMPANY.
    IF ANY ONE SCAMMED FROM THIS COMPANY JUST LET US KNOW ,WE WILL SUE
    THEM AS FAST AS POSSIBLE AND WE WILL SEND LAWYERS TOMORROW.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    SCAMMER COMPANY DETAILS&PERSONS:
    Bill Schneider
    PCS Wireless, Inc.
    11 Vreeland Rd.
    Florham Park, N.J. 07932
    BillS@pcsww.com
    www.PCSWW.com
    Tel. 1.973.805.7400 Ext. 285
    Fax 1.973.301.0975

  3. O'neill says:

    I noticed a trend here. All the sites he is starting are .350 sites. The company that owns http://www.350.com is ZyNet Ltd. They are located out of the UK. We should get a warrant in England to get this guys registration info from ZyNet Ltd.

    There are hundred even thousand similar free website services. Which you don't need to registered at all.

  4. Nitin says:

    Great job with this blog Raymond. The is truly an eye opener. I was searching for some products on Alibaba very recently and was amazed that some vendor were providing quotations for branded electronics at substantially less then the retail value in North America. Most of these vendors had websites which seems to be pretty unprofessional and a little suspicious. I started searching online regarding the validity of vendors on Alibaba and found this blog. I will continue to search for wholesalers on Alibaba and related sites because there has to some honest folks out there. I make it a point to only deal with wholesalers that accept credit card. You can lose you money with any other payment method. As per my understanding Paypal only covers transactions done via Ebay. So if you decide to send funds to some dude in China (even if its a verified paypal account) you could end up losing everything.

  5. Kresna Kwok says:

    Dear Mr Raymond

    I'm from Indonesia, i'm so sorry about what happen to you.
    what can i do for you ?
    I can report all happen to you to the Indonesia Police if you want.
    and the police will find this man.
    we will discuss about this on yahoo msg if you like at Kresna_Kwok@yahoo.com

    Thanks

  6. Raymond says:

    Kresna,

    Thanks for your offer but I actually did try to email the bank where the funds were deposited by the scammer and they were unable to help me. They suggested I make a report with the local police chief where the scammer resided. I tried calling the local police in the suspected area of Indonesia, but gave up when I realized that I really didn't even know whether the address the scammer gave me was legitimate.

    I've given up trying to track Deviansyah and other scammers down. It's a losing cause so long as countries like Indonesia do not crack down harder on online criminals. Thanks for offering to help though!

  7. Sharon says:

    Do Not Buy From These Three Companies:

    Sender's Contact Details Email: Henry Dunant rydunt789@lycos.com
    Name: Mr Henri Siahaan Offline
    Company: Command Robotech Group
    Address: 379-382 Flourence st, Jakarta Selatan, Jakarta Raya
    Country: Indonesia
    Tel: 62-61-76727600
    Fax: 62-61-76727600

    Sender's Contact Details Email: "tan yee tee"
    Name: Ms Sharon Tan Offline
    Company: SM Ltd.
    Address: 4 Jalan Amino,, KL, KL
    Country: Singapore
    Tel: 65-97-936011
    Fax: 65-

    Sender's Contact Details Email: Robert Beague etroniks@live.com
    Name: Robert Beague
    Company: www.etroniks.com
    Address: Lutz
    Country: FL
    Tel: 813-531-5459
    Fax:

  8. Raymond says:

    Sharon,

    Did you get personally scammed by these sites? The Indonesia address is an automatic dead giveaway....savvy merchants and buyers should always remember - NEVER buy anything from an Indonesian merchant or anyone with an Indonesian address. The country is a hot bed of criminal illegal activity and the incompetent government and law enforcement authorities there have done very little to crack down on fraudulent activity.

    Another scammer trick I've noticed being employed with greater frequency these days is the use of female names to lure in unsuspecting buyers. Oftentimes the female names are completely made up and designed to lull trusting buyers into a false sense of security. I guess we have a tendency to trust women more than men...I know I have that innate tendency.

  9. Mathvet says:

    I was just scammed by Rizky Pasaribu—Mdn Pancing –Alibaba.com in Indonesia. It all started by looking for a Shimano Stella fishing reel. It is a high end spinning reel. The cost in the United States is $850.00. Pasaribu offered it to me for $230.00 including shipping. I also wanted to sell on EBay and make a large profit. After sending him the money by bank wire transfer, he emailed back stating that he accidently sent me five reels and wanted an additional $660.00. At that point I realized I had been scammed. After multiple emails back and forth stating that I would not send him any additional money without the original reel I purchased , he disappeared from the web.

    I emailed Alibaba and said they would investigate the matter. Alibaba charges venders on their web site $3000.00 to belong and are reluctant to investigate them after being told of internet fraud. I had to close my bank accounts fearing they could withdraw additional funds from my bank. Bank information for mdn pancing is:

    Name of the bank: Bank Mandiri
    Name on the account: Johnson Pasaribu
    Account number: 107-00-0549459-8
    Swift code/IBC: BEIIDJA
    Country : Indonesia

    If you could post this information on your web site, I would appreciate.

  10. Melissa says:

    My sympathy goes out to those who've gotten conned. What a nasty experience that must be..

    Scammers prey on the greediness/ignorance of people who think that it's simple to make quick bucks, and such fraudulent activity has been going on for years and years. Well, think for yourself, if such money was thaat easy to make, why wouldn't wholesalers just peddle their goods on ebay themselves?

    I was also shocked that someone would actually suggest, even though in half-jest(?), all that stuff about calling a hit on that Devian guy or whoever he really is.

    Yes, what he did was wrong, blahblahblah, but what good would killing him really do? I'd love to see scammers get caught and go to jail.

    Just my two cents worth. For those who've been scammed, don't turn bitter like some 'victims' here are.. just learn from your lesson and move on from it. Learn to be aware and alert.

  11. Eric says:

    Thank you all for posting this vailuable information. I know all the people that read this appreciate it a lot even if they do not say so. I hate scammers, they are the scum of the internet and the world. I am currently browsing alibaba and am so happy I came across this blog. Now that i read all this Im going to leave that site alone. I was scammed for 250 on a apple iphone on the site called sell.com
    The scammers screen name is stevenjones090 and he just changed his name to anthonyjohnson090. I contacted sell.com and they know he is scaming but have done nothing. I think that site is ran by scammers so stay away. This stevenjones090/anthonyjohnson090 is a piece of sh*t. On his ad he states that his proceeds go to breast cancer which they dont, it goes into his pocket. What a low life. I can not image how a person like that can live with themselves. Also on sell.com stay away from screen name redon email is kevinoneil19@yahoo.com. I have caught him in multiple lies about his name, age, number and address. I have name, number, and address for him also if n e one wants it. On ioffer stay away from screen name jfksbm, email jfksbm@yahoo.com. She/He is a scammer. And also on ioffer stay away from screen name duraj email is enajur@yahoo.com. I have names, numbers, and address for both of them if n e one wants it just ask.
    Here is some info on stevenjoness090 and anthonyjohnson090 they are the same person.
    Steve E Jones
    10069 Branford Rd
    San Diego, CA 92129
    858-484-3957
    Age:22
    stevenjones090@gmail.com
    stevensmith050@gmail.com
    arlestermcdonald@gmail.com
    and:
    Anthony Johnson
    113 Schiller St.
    Reading, PA 19601
    610-372-4633
    anthonyjohnson090@gmail.com
    Im thinking of creating a website that will allow victims of scammers to post their story and info of that scammer. Once again thank you all for creating the awarness.

  12. Horas says:

    As Indonesian i sad when read this forum. If anyone of you need escort when dealing with people in indonesia. let me know how to help you. call me in my number +6285297639847. May not all indonesian like you all said.

    Terima Kasih

  13. sdtrademan says:

    Mirota Shop Electronics & PayPal SCAM

    On April 23, 2009 I purchased a Sharp LCD 65 inch TV from Mirota-Shop out of Indonesia. Their website is www.Kusnak.com and www.mirota-shop.com is located on several search websites. I called PayPal before ordering and they informed me this company had been with them a long time and had many orders filled in the price range of mine, $2,900.00 US, and that they had no complaints. I sent money to PayPal and the seller, Andrea Thenavi, sent me a link to Buana Cargo (Express) who was supposedly transporting the TV to my home in California. I followed the voyage via Buana's website and tracking number. When it supposedly arrived in Oceanside, my hometown, after about 7 days travel (which was rather quick) it was listed as delivered. Of course, I did not receive it yet. I emailed the seller and the cargo company and neither would respond, so I filed a complaint with PayPal. After 30 days of dickering with them, they informed me that the seller never responded to any of their email requests and that they ruled in my favor. However, the seller had no money in their account to retract for me. Now my only revenge is to make it known that the Mirota Shop is a scam outfit and PayPal cannot and will not protect the consumer.

    MIROTA SHOP - SUN PLAZA MALL
    Jl. H. Zainul Arifin No. 7, Level 2. Medan, Indonesia 20111
    Phone: 011-617-697-9630 , Fax: 617-697-9629 , Hotline: 081-962-8364
    Also: 011-620-061-3039-4290 http://www.kusnak.com
    Order : order@mirota-shop.com Payment : payment@mirota-shop.com
    Andrea Thenavi and Dika Prima

  14. Naveen says:

    Wow, I was just going to invest in Trustpass and Gold membership on Alibaba.com but seeing the reputation Alibaba is developing, I think I will pass. Afterall I accept payment only by Bank wire Transfer which has been demonised beyond imagination. I

  15. Karen Beagle says:

    Do not trust or believe any information on Alibaba. Sellers on alibaba can use any company's name as the supposed seller. Our company just received a call yesterday from someone inquiring about an item that we supposedly had for sale on alibaba. Up until then we had never even heard of alibaba. We went to the website and saw numerous items listed for sale with our company name and address listed as the seller but we have nothing to do with the items listed and there is no Richard Wellison employed by our company. Our company is in the process of trying to have the items removed but I don't know if we will be successful. This situation is absolutely outrageous. If someone buys one of these items they are going to get scammed and they're going to think our company is the one who scammed them. I am sure the name Richard Wellison is an alias and I don't know where the emails are going if someone tries to contact what is supposedly our company, but they are not going to us. I urge anyone out there to avoid doing business on this web site.

  16. Raymond says:

    Karen,

    I'm uttered convinced that Alibaba.com is a completely unregulated and un-monitored sham. The company is run by a China-based organization - and that in of itself should immediately set off alarm bells. Chinese authorities are not known for cracking down on piraters or fraudulent criminals. The dictatorial regime's rulers are professional experts when it comes to being aggressively vigilant in their violent efforts at stopping freedom of speech and stamping out political dissent, but the authorities are completely retarded when it comes to investigating bona-fide online computer crimes. If the private company and managing government don't care, it's just going to get worse and worse.

    Hopefully we can help spread the word about Alibaba and the scams that are being perpetrated via their service.

  17. Rajeev Arora says:

    I also got scammed by stevenjones090/anthonyjohnson0. Filed claim with my Credit Card company. This person is now operating www.premiumelectron.com site. He has two new addresses premiumelectro@gmail.com and premiumelectron@gmail.com Some with just renewed this site at www.godaddy.com using the following information:

    Melanson, Nora
    premiumelectro@gmail.com
    2556 Hart Country Lane
    Augusta, Georgia 30901
    United States
    (706) 584-1566

  18. vi says:

    why this o'neil guy is very upset about raymond exposing the scammers. I bet you he's probably one of them.

  19. jason says:

    oppsss... now even USA got scammer....

  20. jason says:

    SCAMMER COMPANY DETAILS&PERSONS (ALL COMING FROM USA): Really? USA??

    Bill Schneider
    PCS Wireless, Inc.
    11 Vreeland Rd.
    Florham Park, N.J. 07932
    BillS@pcsww.com
    http://www.PCSWW.com
    Tel. 1.973.805.7400 Ext. 285
    Fax 1.973.301.0975

    Melanson, Nora
    premiumelectro@gmail.com
    2556 Hart Country Lane
    Augusta, Georgia 30901
    United States
    (706) 584-1566

    Anthony Johnson
    113 Schiller St.
    Reading, PA 19601
    610-372-4633
    anthonyjohnson090@gmail.com

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