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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. Bryan says:

    I had actually been looking into "premiumelectron.com" since about june 11th ever since i got an email about the website. I contacted the email given on the website and talked to some guy (i have his "name" and "address" along with their "warehouse address" in my email") and i asked many many questions trying to prove authenticity in the website but never quite felt comfortable enough to risk my money on it. During this i also did some quite extensive research, also finding out about "Nora Melanson" who's name does exist, neither did the address exist, and the phone number went to some "Augusta Bell South pre-completion termination" when i called it. I actually just posted this on their website as a comment making some pretty good points but it says its awaiting moderation so it most likely won't get approved, but here it is for everyone else to see.

    Comment:

    So you all are still up? I'm surprised!!!
    So how many people have you scammed by now?

    Here's just a few of the signs I picked up from a little bit of research:

    1. Haven't had any activity on the website since the eleventh of June.
    2. "Nora Melanson" doesn't exist, neither does the address. (That's the name this website was originally registered to through http://www.godaddy.com, but must've changed it after i reported invalid/fake information to godaddy and them replying that they thank me and will try to contact "PremiumElectron" to get current information).
    3. The email given on http://www.godaddy.com for this website is different than the one listed here.
    4. The phone number given on http://www.godaddy.com is invalid and does not work.
    5. No proof of this being an actual business, not on this site, not anywhere else on the internet.
    6. Messed up description information like under the 3g 16gb white iphone it says "NEW UNLOCKED APPLE IPHONE 3G PHONE 16GB BLACK", and also "UNLOCKED BLACK 16GB Apple iPhone-White."
    7. Unprofessional web layout, along with a non secure(not https://, having the lock symbol on the address bar also) page to type all your information in besides credit card number.

  2. keny says:

    Someone mentioned jfksbm@yahoo.com, I was dealing with someone that sent an invoice with that email address on it. Anyone have any other details about this address.

  3. Sergio says:

    I was just scammed of $450 by jfksbm@yahoo.com under the name of Karen Keller or Karen J Stalker from Cleveland OH. On eBay the sell under the seller id name of: dawng3_123.
    The email addresses used by this MF are: jfksbm@yahoo.com / kdawns30@gmail.com / kellkare@yahoo.com stay away from anyone with these email they are scammers.
    Someone on this tread named Eric had mentioned the above email and asked if anyone was interested in the identity of this low life scammer to inquire about it.
    Well, I want to know who took my money.
    Thanks to anyone who can help stop this F#@%* scammers.

  4. Jenny Trang says:

    I guess scammers now all over the world. Including our beloved country, USA.

  5. Shawn says:

    Karen Keller aka Karen Stalker (supposedly her maiden name) is also now using jfksbm@gmail.com Selling on eBay as dawn3g_123 also now as 89marydankom89 who I think is the same person that was selling on there a couple of months ago going by k1pop1977 on ebay with email of k1pop1977@yahoo.com
    I have corresponded with both and the writing style, syntax, non capitalization of anything, always sent from her/him verizon wireless blackberry is the same.
    Her supposed address is 9709 Firelands Dr. Twinsburg, OH. 44087 with a phone number of 440-289-6597. This information was obtained today if it helps anyone, I know the above information has helped me avoid being scammed. She/He is very smooth and likable, well spoken and re-assuring so beware.......

  6. Shawn says:

    Ha! Score one for the honest people!! 89marydankom89 Karen Keller, Karen Stalker what ever her name is had her Auctions removed today by eBay's fraud dept. Appears from my research she/he/them had several user names: dawng3_123, gimmemypuppy, johnnystuff440, k1pop1977, meyerjack82, 3308960john and 440karnestuff as they are all tied together in the feedback, buying each others items in order to artificially inflate their feedback ratings. Hopefully this will help others.

  7. Shawn says:

    http://www.ripoffreport.com a site by consumers for consumers to report the kind of things that can help someone else not fall victim to the scam and rip off artists out there.

  8. Ferdy says:

    Greetings all,

    after reviewing this long blog from the very beginning to the very last post, i want to post some comments myself.

    Firstly, I'm from Indonesia too and have recently came across the website run by this Devian guy. The current website is at http://www.plasa.350.com. I have been trying to find a reliable online supplier or wholesaler that can supply me iphone 3G or 3GS and blackberry bold or javelin with good prices. These are currently very hot selling items in my country. I've searched alibaba, local (Indonesian) ads and many other websites. Until now, I can't seem to find a reliable one coz for one thing, all of the supplier/wholesaler only deals with money transfer via western union or moneygram. I recognized this as the main scammers' method of trying to rip people off.

    Then, just 2 days ago, I came across this http://www.plasa.350.com which is run by Mr.Devian. I was surprised that there's a company in my own country that can supply these products at such low prices. This is what he offered me:

    Dear Ferdy,
    You could have both written in English or Indo. As i could speak both
    of them. For inquiry:

    Apple iPhone 3G:
    8gb = $537.00 (Hitam) -> means black
    16gb = $564.00 (Hitam dan putih) -> means black and white

    Apple iPhone 3GS:
    16gb = 646.00 (hitam) -> means black
    32gb = 711.00 (hitam dan putih) -> means black and white

    NO MOQ
    SHIPPING= 2 - 3 days directly from our supplier in Minnesota, USA.
    ALL ITEMS ARE PRE ORDER, as we don't have any stocks in here.

    Thanks for your attention.

    Regards,
    Devian

    I almost fell for the trick too, considering the prices are not SIGNIFICANTLY lower than those being sold on ebay or other merchants. Usually if i see that the prices for iphone 3G are around $200, i will ignore that straight away. I exchanged about 15 emails with him. He was very convincing, agreed when I ask him to meet in person, he even wants to visit me at my office. However, whenever I talk about payment method, he always points me to bank transfer. I told him, what if you order 1 or 2 items first, then i pay you when we meet? He always eludes this and said he had bad experiences whenever he pre-order the items. Then, I did some research, I phoned the office complex where his "Office" is supposed to be. To my surprise, the management of the complex said that there's no such address there. His address is at:

    Kawasan Industri MM2100 Blok DD-17 Cikarang Barat
    Bekasi, Indonesia, 17520

    You guys can check the website of the complex at http://www.mm2100.co.id/ and ask if there is such thing as Blok DD-17 and they will say NO.

    What should I DO? Should i go ahead and meet this guy in person? I bet that he will not be the one who'll come and meet me.

    I know that my country's reputation is being badly tarnished by this guy, but that doesn't mean that everyone from Indonesia are bad. Sometimes, i noticed that on some website, people various country posted some random address and put Indonesia as the country of origin.

    I write this comment without any kind of purpose. I'm just another newbie with intention of becoming successful with the internet business. I'm trying to find a reliable and good online merchants/supplier/wholesaler who can supply me with electronics products especially iphones, blackberry products. If anyone here can help me, it'll be very much appreciated.

    I've also been burnt many times and have learnt my lesson. For me, this blog is actually quite useful for people who wants to start venturing into online businesses. Good luck to all... God Bless U all.

  9. Rashid says:

    What is the solution? Where can we source quantity merchandise from reputable wholesalers? In the US, the are NO wholesaler websites the come up on Google that are NOT scams in some way or another. This leaves us with only word of mouth brick and mortar firms, which we can learn of from others whom we know-- the traditional method.

    Any tips?

  10. Raymond says:

    There are legitimate wholesalers out there, but they are not readily available to most people. I have a close friend who runs his own ebay home business. He sells primarily brand name laptop computers and random accessories on eBay using his wholesale connections. His short list of ,legitimate whole sellers is a very closely guarded secret and is something that most of us will never be able to acquire. How his wholesellers are able to sell him the products at such cheap bulk prices is beyond me - but it's been going on for years so I assume it's legitimate.

  11. Ferdy says:

    also read Ripoff Article

    this is just an example of scammer not from my country Indonesia.

    Cheers... be careful out there guys, more and more scammers everyday.

  12. Sergio says:

    Thanks Shawn, I have been pursuing the recovery of my $450 via the payment site that I used mpayy.com they are trying to go after Karen D Stalker's bank account to recover the money. We'll see what comes out of it, thank you again for all the great info about this ugly MF, I believe in Karma and I know what goes around comes around, justice will prevail.

  13. Serg says:

    I've never heard of scammers from Ukraine. That's just simple, Ukrainians dont sell goods on Alibaba, I never found one. i know these people, they are not more liers than brits and americans are.

  14. Jenny Trang says:

    the biggest sins of all, is where you are so eager to get more profits from such cheaper items.. which never exist on any b2b website.. almost 90% sellers on b2b website are mostly scammers. just for example, some sellers selling iphones for only $200 how could this be real??? while on authorized distributor the price is $800. but still, a lots of people trying to get this $200 iphones. and finally they got scammed.

    BUY FROM ORIGINAL STORE... that's more safe... but again, NO PROFITS.... LOL

  15. czar says:

    i got scam by this xitealibaba.com pretending to laptops i got lured in this site due to the very price, pls do not deal with this people. they got aroung $450.

    this used this new mobile +8613666319052
    First name: Jian
    Last name: Cai
    City: Weihai Shandong
    Zip code: 264200
    Country: CHINA

    now they use yahoo messenger to lure their potential buyers

    thanks,
    czar

  16. Robert Luo says:

    it's really pitty to see all of those non sense articles above. well, perhaps devian ever done some mistakes.. but lucky me, I GOT MY $2000 BB parts order last week. as he really shipping the order to me. LUCKY ME!!!

    Again, i agreed with some of the articles above, said that this is only a blog, where sometimes people written something bad about someone for any reasons.... Be good guys... what you've written here could giving effect to someone and crush someone's business...

  17. czar says:

    non sense articles well good for you if you got your items i am not trying to destroy somebody's business if they are legitimate the one im telling is really true if you dont want to believe me fine. im just giving a warning to all potential buyers. before making transaction please make a complete research on the web type in scams on alibaba.com then you will see what im talking about. if they are really true on their business i was trying to get the tracking number for the package, their was no comment. i called them twice the first call she was not there, after 5 hrs i called back with the same number they answered they its a wrong number and the one im looking for is not connected there. there was someone giggling so what do you think is that? 9 out of 10 in alibaba.com are scammers so dont deal with thieves. did you know the word alibaba in arabic means thieves, rubber.

    i hope my unfortunate experience with this site will give a warning.
    dont send money thru western union, money gram. use paypal.

    czar

  18. Robert Luo says:

    Czar, if you really good in handling your business... you wouldn't got scammed right? Now, USA, EU, Asia all countries got many scammers. using any possible ways of payment. even paypal also got problems (i have read some articles on alibaba about paypal). i think any payment still have a risk either for buyers or sellers. depends on what situation.

  19. Robert Luo says:

    and Helooo... alibaba is an old cartoon character from Arabian... just like Sinbad, Pinokio, etc.... try to search on internet Czar...don't be smart ass...

  20. czar says:

    well im not a smart ass like you im in the gulf right now for your your imformation ( alibaba ) the cartoon character is a thief dont know. and if you will in inquire here the word alibaba i a thief.

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