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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. Deviansyah says:

    Everyone talking about me here, i will wrote back. Everyone which never dealing with me, but talking shit about me, i will give them a shit back.

    What's wrong is wrong, what's true is true. YES, i did something wrong with Raymond before. But i changed now. But this silly blog remain here forever. this ain't fair to me at all. If people got freak out after reading this blog, is it my fault??? Of course NOT!!!

    I guess you all more clever then i am. so you know the differences.

  2. Ferdy says:

    Hahaha.. this Devian guy is really funny... Dude, if I hadn't read this blog, I would've get cheated by you right? If you want to prove that you're innocence, come on, lets meet up in person (which i doubt you'll be the one who's coming). Contact me at 021-33600238 i dare you and lets make a business deal. You can send me your item catalogue to fkartika@gmail.com if you want and lets make a deal. Im sorry if i offend you and if you're now a legitimate businessman. Let's do this...

  3. John says:


    This is the problem: "You keep doing what people hate the most. You fraud people money. You set up a phony online store that exhibit hot stuff with too good to be true price. When people contact you? you ask them to wire their money. They are waiting. Waiting. Waiting and waiting. You never send them anything. It is online Fraud. I spoke with some of your victim over the phone. Your name is very famous for some infamous reason. You never stop. I have people sending me an email asking about Indonesia and you. They provide me with the address. I contact my friend to check the address. It is not exist. Your phone number is prepaid phone number so you can change them any time. You act like you already stop frauding people. The fact says something different. You need to think about other Indonesian who really doing their business honestly. Because of someone like you? make the whole country bad. I hope sooner or later you will get caught. So whatever you say in this open forum? will not make people stop writing or even giving a comment about it. "

    For anyone who read this blog? Please do not send any money to Devian. It is better if you send your money for donation of a good cause (like Haiti Earthquake victims). He has no iphones or blackberry or computer. He has no store or warehouse. He has no connection to any apple supplier. He has no bank account now. He wants you to wire transfer to his name via money gram or western union. Please do not do that. He is mentally sick. His mind is full of dream to become a quick billionaire. Never give out your info to someone like Devian.

    If you are a seller and looking for a better deal? look very carefully. A good wholesaler always provides you with a safety net in purchasing their item. They will agree if you use paypal. Trade locally is always a better idea. Cash for a quick trade is even better.

  4. Deviansyah says:

    Really? how much money will you lost Ferdy? After you insulting me, wrote any false comments, and i still wanna do business with you Ferdy? Come on. Do i look so desperate need your order??? You gotta be kidding..

    To John,
    Thanks for your wise advise. I just need you to know about my business, until today still fine. Some clients got freak out over this blog, while the other clients still doing business with me. Perhaps it would be wise, if you stop telling about something when you don't have any proof at all. It's all based on your opinions.

    My question to you John, Are you going to save the world? You may try it John.

  5. Ferdy says:

    Mr. Deviansyah, I'm just giving you a chance to prove to everyone here that you're doing legitimate business here. That's why i'm offering you a chance to do it again with me, by meeting up in person. And you're still getting all angry and refusing to meet up? You said that you've changed now, here is your chance to prove to everyone here and around the world. You can meet up with me, we can make a deal on something and prove that you're a legitimate businessman. But if you're still all angry and refuse to do so, it's your choice. It just give further prove to everyone here that you're either:
    a. Still scamming people or
    b. You still haven't changed and don't want to meet up in person
    its your choice, i'm just trying to help clear up your name because now more and more people think badly of us Indonesian.

    Let all the reader of this blog be witness to this...

  6. Deviansyah says:

    Once again, it's all up to people here, to decides and giving any comments. I have pride, and obvious i don't have time to playing around with people like you. I'm not mad at all, but after all your comments above, i guess i am not interesting to do any business with you.

    You and any other people may saying anything about me. But to me, it's just a comments. Please your self Ferdy.

  7. Deviansyah says:

    Keep on blogging guys. But with respect and responsible. I'll take all comments here.

  8. Ferdy says:

    Thanks for the support John.. It's true that being Indonesian is very difficult to do business online and only until recently that paypal finally accepts indonesian applicants. I will make sure I won't forget to bring my camera if he really arranges a one-on-one meeting with me, which i doubt he will though judging by his character.

  9. Raymond says:

    Guys, I know we all want to think that there is some shred of decency in everyone, but this Deviansyah guy really is a hardcore scammer. Trust me on this...he does not really have an honest business or a legitimate warehouse somewhere. Everything he says is part of his very elaborate deception to get you to part with your money. He constantly posts under multiple identities on this blog forum in his ridiculous attempts to drum up support and sympathy for his evil cause and writes the most illogical explanations for his deeds....but at the root of it all, he is nothing but a pathetic scammer - one who preys on the good will of others.

    For the record, I will say this, if it indeed can be proven that he has somehow reformed and is now a legitimate businessman, then I will write a full letter of apology on this personal finance blog and clear his name forever. But tread very careful friends....he is very, very, very good in his craft. Do not be easily mislead.....this is from prior experience and dealings with him. He is a total liar without a conscience. I'm sure he would rob from his own mother if given the chance.

  10. Deviansyah says:

    To my dear friend John and Ferdy. Dare me?? LOL.. sounds desperate for you guys. It indicates that whole statements above are nothing but a comments. You don't even know how is Devian look like. You don't even met Devian yet. But wrote many comments about him. Accusing him, and told about many things. Does anyone of you have proofs of what Devian doing??? Hmmm... i guess not.

    So, keep trying trying and playing your self around.

  11. Deviansyah says:

    I begin to love you guys. It's really nice talking with you all here. Every words are so sarcastic. But hey, that's fine by me. Even a political figure got very bad ass comments sometimes.

    Raymond, how are you doing so far? After all these years, i hope you still have sense of humor. After all these years, i still love to read your silly ass blog.

    John and Ferdy: begging me and kneel down!!! And i will meet each one of you. LOL...

  12. Raymond says:


    You really are sick in the head. You occasionally come off as a regular person, but inside that truly deranged mind of yours, you are quite evil and demented. You continue to steal from people and manipulate the emotions and situations of your victims with no remorse. One day, I hope you get what's coming to you. One day, one of your victims is going to take matters into his own hands and successfully hunt you down....and when we all find out what happened to you...I doubt any of us will shed a tear. In fact, we may all break out into jubilant applause and give a toast to the one who finally rid this world of yet another piece of filth.

    You stand as a permanent testament as to why we all must forever stand vigilant and ever careful and mindful of the online evils in the world. You truly have no conscience...and it's very, very sad.

  13. Knight says:

    This blog is really getting interesting each day..lol, I totally agree with you Raymond. The fact that "Demonsyah" do not dare to meet Ferdy is becos he show no remorse at all. Until he dare to meet Ferdy one to one, if not whatever that "Demonsyah" comments posted here, makes him look dumber as we all read..

  14. John says:

    Hi Ray,

    I agree with you. This Devian guy doesn't care to what you feel or think. About Devian? I suspect He is just one of the small Indonesia underground community that constantly fraud people online. Some of them work as IT at the cyber cafe or company. They have a job but very underpaid. They are very web savvy but do not make enough money. The only thing they can do? trying to make extra money defrauding ppl online. These peopel are very dangerous. They can obtain your name, your address, your phone number, your credit card + PIN, your SS, your ID no and everything else. Their tricks keep changing every day. Either sending you the email claiming they are from BoFA/Chase/Citibank. Everything looks legit. All form looks like coming from official bank. But if you open the sender address? click on the full header? check the ip? they all come from proxy address. Proxy address means: You could be in Singapore but your ip can be masked with any ip and you can do anything illegal online with that masked ip. It is very very dangerous. It is hacker world. They steal and steal. They don't care what you think. They careless to what you feel. They play with your thought. So how to defend yourself from online fraud or people like Devy?

    Do not conduct any online transaction on any website without further doing your homework. DONT DO THAT!!

    Do not open any email from anyone mostly the one with the attachment! Do not install any Free software! Do not let anyone use your computer with your access! Never click on any link on any email confirming they are from the bank.

    The latest I notice: someone send the msg on your Face book containing the link of Trojans script/key logger script. Once you click on that? it is auto download. This script will install a small program to log every keystroke you perform on your computer.

    The other is when you visit any page on the my space or face book or friendster. Their website comes with Trojans auto downloader script. When you visit this infected page? your computer becomes infected. Anything you type on your computer will be logged and one day? your saving will be wiped out. Some could even purchase the car under your name. Some could get a birth certificate under your son name. Someone could buy the house under you and your wife name.

    So be careful.

    I work as the network security so this small game of people like Devian is almost everywhere. There is no way to stop them. But there is a way for you to protect yourself from becoming a victim. Never never conduct any business online with anyone without doing your homework. Use pay pal to protect yourself. Do not wire transfer to anyone you don't know.

    But believe me. Without this blog (Thanks to Raymond). There will be another victim everyday.

    So for anyone who read this blog? If someone from Indonesia with the name Devian tries to contact you with cheap iPhones/Computers? HANG UP!! lol or DO NOT ANSWER HIS EMAIL!!

    Btw I received the text this morning from my wife relative in Jakarta. The address that Devian provides is not exist just like what I suspect. Lol.

  15. John says:

    lol. I am okay with that. If you wanna see where this people gather everyday? Use irc and go to efnet, undernet or dalnet. They trade ppl information online. I saw on NBC where they trade the 5K credit card for $1K/piece. Ppl like Devian is everywhere. I hope he will get caught soon. Thats what I want to see.

  16. Raymond says:

    It's ridiculous how much personal information is traded around online like money. For all of the honest Indonesians out there...I sympathize. Scammers like Deviansyah are destroying your country's reputation.

  17. Deviansyah says:

    First of all, thanks to all my beloved friends. And just as i expected, seems everyone love this games. Either sending bogus demands, fake emails, etc. But when no deals, means no deals. It won't wasting our time at all. And it won't be headache at all too. As all it's just a game created by Raymond.

    Some people got effected by this blog, while many other people still doing business with us. My suggestion to you all, you should making this kind of silly ass blog, at least thousands. Or maybe millions. You got that?

    Keep blogging guys and try to get some real jobs. PLEASE do not wasting too much time on computer. There are many jobs out there. I know there are global crisis at the moment, but perhaps you still could get some jobs. At Wendy's maybe? LOL...

  18. Deviansyah says:

    Greediness. It's all you've got here. How can someone really believe there are iPhone 3gs selling at $200 - $300 per pcs? It's ridiculous. But sad, many people still got scam, cheated and fraud, cause they still believe there are some cheap iphones, even more cheaper then the Apple store. While the fact is, there are no cheap iphones. It would be cheap, if you're signing up the yearly contract with their provider (AT&T, Rogers, etc).

    Take a look on EBAY. You may see range prices of iphones on EBAY. There are no price range between $200 - $300!!

    To John,
    Even local sellers on your country, still got many fake sellers. Look at the above articles, when someone got cheated by Go Daddy. Sounds familiar web portal in U.S.

    Take my advised, trading some real items and real prices. Such as agricultural products, household products, garments, chemicals etc. I have changed my business from electronics into other commodities. For electronics, you will never find cheaper prices then the actual authorized stores. Unless you would like to trading with fake Chinese products for electronics.

    This is just my advised.

  19. Deviansyah says:

    I received many quotations of iphones, game consoles, laptops, etc each days. But only one real suppliers of game consoles i found on Hong Kong. BUT again, they are not selling brand new items. As all refurbished items.

    For iphones, most of them are fake sellers. I realized this, and decides i cannot do any electronics trading anymore. Because i will never find any real sellers for real iphones products. IF we found real iphones, our commission would be not more than $2 - $3 each. As the prices are still high if you're buying from real sellers.

    For laptops, printers, etc pretty much the same. There are real sellers of printers and laptops, but again, it's refurbished or second hands items.

    For prices, you may searching and analyzing through EBAY, price tag, etc. You could see the actual prices for those items. If someone offering you cheaper prices, either it's refurbished or fakes.

    People, i've changed!! But why people still judging me by their reasons? Come on, give me a chance. People make mistakes. I did mistakes before with Raymond, but I've changed. It's not fair at all, if you keep insulting me, judging me, even cursing me. Sad to hear, but I'm still here until today. Watching each one of you talking about rubbish. Talking about something i don't do it anymore.

  20. Deviansyah says:

    To anyone looking for real iphones:

    Stock Iphones 3g 8/16gb
    3gs 16/32gb
    stock available 100 pcs
    ready to go
    Tel:412 727 8220
    Address5E 3045 West Liberty Ave
    Pittsburgh PA15216 USA

    But do not expecting cheap prices. There are no cheap iphones selling on the market.

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