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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. Rick says:

    Sorry to hear about your experience. Please post the scammer's details (including bank wire details) so others who look him up through Google will find your warning.

  2. Raymond says:

    The contact information might not be accurate anymore, but I did some research on the name "Deviansyah" and it appears he or his collaborators have been running similar scams across Alibaba for years. It saddens me when I hear about all the people that have fallen for his scams.

    Here's everything I have on this loser:

    Name: Deviansyah K. Manoch
    Company: John's Trading Company
    Telephone: 011-62-813-19033894
    Fax: 011-62-21-78844901
    E-mail: eh_manoch@link.net.id

    Bank: Bank of Central Asia
    Bank Address: Jalan Cilandak KKO II / 5
    Account Name Deviansyah K. Manoch
    Swift Code CENAIDJA
    Beneficiary Account Number: 733-0115259

  3. Mrs. Micah says:

    Wow, that's awful! At least when people like you share their stories, the rest of us have a better chance of experiencing it only vicariously and recognizing the real thing. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Peter Nawab says:

    Wow really sorry to hear, I have just dicovered Alibaba.com and really glad to hear your story, now I'm scared to use Alibaba all together but do not know who else to use ...

  5. big daddy says:

    I just finished typing a big letter on why none of you should even attempt contacting anyone on alibaba. but it didnt post and all my typing was for nothing. DO NOT use alibaba 90% of the so called business's on there are scammers and alibaba know this but do not care cause they get their money no matter what happens to you. They will suspend a scammers account if you spend thousands of dollars in court proving that the business was a scam. They just dont care who they make a trust pass or gold member as long as they pay for the right to rip you off. I no longer use that website and no-one else should either EVER !!! Instead contact the company directly and they will always point you in the right direction. for example want ipod's ok goto the apple web site and apply to be a re-seller not only are their prices just as good as the scammers but you get great after sales service, warranty and you acutally get that you have paid for.

    Good luck to everyone and I can just hope that all those scammers really needed that money cause they will need it if I ever meet them. Just be thankfull they live in China and are not your next door neighbour.

  6. Raymond says:

    I don't think Alibaba is rigorous enough with its issuance of Trustpass verification badges and it seems like any company (even fraudulent ones) can obtain one by simply paying the fee. How Alibaba has established itself as a large trusted site is beyond me - most of the listed companies I've contacted on the site are likely run by scammers according to my own BS detector.

  7. Alfredo says:

    Sometimes it's confusing me, to read which one is the true or false facts. Especially a lots of blogger using to manipulate people. So my advice is, why don't we care to our self and do more alerts. These days people could say anything on the blogger, and we don't know exactly which one is the truth. Some rumors also said, that this is the competition among suppliers and sellers. So, guys please be aware not to carry out so far.

  8. Mary says:

    I just been scammed too. I had the very same experience. I never thought this would happen to me ever, This is crazy and I agree with th greedy thing u ignore all the redflags because of the prospective profit u would be getting. Well this is definitely a hard lesson but I learned it. Am almost sure I will never get my money back...

  9. Raymond says:


    Sorry for your financial loss. I feel your pain! It's the worst feeling to be scammed but you live and learn. Greed is a terribly blinding thing for sure...

  10. Martin Dahlgren says:

    Sorry to hear about your story, but thanks for posting it here.
    I work for a Taiwanese company in beauty products, and we are on the other hand also afraid of crazy customers.
    Lots of customers ask us to send samples across the world, assist them in registration processes etc etc. The list for their demands is sometimes like an essay.

    Anyway, our recomendation for our new customers is that they place a small order, we usually only accept payments by TT, and we usually have minimum order, but in the beginning we always want the customer to purchase a smaller amount of products, they pay, and we send the products, in this way we see that the customer is really willing to pay, and the customer will see that we are serious about our commitment when it comes to proper packaging and sending the correct products.

    This is how we do, does anyone have any better advice for us? Both for our customer and our side.

  11. Raymond says:


    I think most reputable companies should start accepting credit card payments instead of only T/T wire transfers. Credit cards do a much better job of providing protection for consumers and merchants since the card issuer assumes the financial cost of any loss due to fraudulent transactions. T/T transfers are commonly associated with Western Union type scams these days. Or at the very least, more reputable companies must be willing to accept some type of escrow agreement, even when it comes to initial sample requests.

  12. Martin Dahlgren says:

    Ok, so how to do the credit card payments?

    I originally comes from Sweden, and there its really easy doing credit card payments, but in Taiwan sooo many people are involved in fraud so its quite tricky using credit cards even for 'easy' purchases as tickets etc.

    But we don't give a shit how we get our money, as long as we get it, and the customer feels safe.

    For TT transfers we have to give account No#, swift code and some stuff, correct?
    What kind of details are needed for Credit Card payments.

  13. Raymond says:


    Well perhaps Paypal is a possible option. It allows potential international customers to link Paypal up with their bank accounts and credit cards to make online payments. Paypal provides some insurance and in the event of fraudulent transactions, Paypal covers and assumes a decent portion of the loss. This is helpful for the initial sample / test transactions used to establish credibility and trust. Thereafter wire transfers may be more appropriate.

  14. Alfredo says:

    Perhaps paypal are the safe method so far. But I've been doing business with several Asian countries, which are not accepted paypal as payment. According to them, their country don't have any paypal service. Then finally I just did bank transfer. It's a risky of course, but we never know if we never tried. Not all of them are bad person, some of them are also real business person.

  15. Victor says:

    I have e-mail conversation with this person right now. He send me invoice for cell phones, photocopies of his ID card ( probably, fake ), his bank coordinates and his company address ( now it is "Pacific Trading" ) which looks like CitiBank address in Jakarta but with different zip code, his phone number for conversation and asked for Western Union transactions. I have his coordinates and documents ( but some are fake, probably ).
    What should I do?

  16. Raymond says:


    My advice is to mess with him for amusement purposes. Please share any stories as I would love to hear about them. I personally hate scammers and would love for everyone that comes in contact with any of them to waste the scammer's time and efforts on fruitless pursuits. I recommend asking him for tons and tons of verification information and to keep leading him on - essentially using his own scammer tactics against him.

    Whatever you do however, do not send any money, Western Union checks, wire transfers, or fall for any escrow agreements no matter how credible or trustworthy his claims may seem. This Deviansyah Kurniawan Manoch fellow, or whatever his real name may be, is a very conniving and sneaky online scammer. I'm sure he's running scam operations through Alibaba, eBay, and other sites as well. I really don't know where he's based or located exactly.


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