Video game consoles, tablets, smartphones, flat screen TVs, digital photo displays… at cheap prices? Beware of this so-called bargain!
- You’re searching on various search engines and classified ads websites, comparing prices and products, when you come across a new product being sold at 15 to 20% less than on other more well-known websites.
- Once you contact the seller, he/she directs you to another website to make the payment or asks you to pay via wire transfer to a foreign account. You make the payment, sometimes receiving a confirmation your package was sent, and you wait for its delivery which will, unfortunately, never occur.
- Despite all attempts to get into contact with the seller, he/she remains silent. Moreover, you don’t receive a reimbursement for the amount you paid.
- In certain cases, the seller will invoke false customs laws to make you pay more, or promises a free gift with your next purchase.
Method used by fraudsters
- Websites written in broken language, with grammar or spelling mistakes
- The website offers only one form of payment: wire transfer, which is irreversible
- Some fraudulent sellers use prepaid cards for payment, which allows an individual to open or begin transactions or receive money via the card without opening a bank account with a bank (which does not require certain thorough verification of ID). As such, the fraudulent seller can easily withdrawal the money transferred by your wire transfer in any distributor without being identified.
Advice to avoid this scam:
- Check the domain name via WHOIS or national official domain registries such as AFNIC (for domain names ending in “.fr”) to determine who made the website and when. Compare the name with the one mentioned on the website itself
- Look at the URL and be wary if it does not correspond to the types of products shown. Also look at the description or snippet of the website in the search engine.
- Ensure that the website is secure: if it is, the URL will begin with https:// and will also show a green lock, particularly on the payment pages. However, be careful: fraudulent websites can also be secure!
- Read the Terms and Conditions. If there aren’t any, if they are very short or written in broken language, go away!
- Verify the price of the product you want on multiple sites and, most importantly, on the official brand’s website. If the price is considerably lower, be suspicious.
- Look on the official brand’s website to check for a list of counterfeit sellers, for recently many brands verify resellers.
- Check if the seller is a company or a private individual. This is important for the guarantees that you could or could not benefit from. In dealing with a private individual, your protections are diminished.
- To judge the reliability of the seller, no matter whether it’s a company or private individual, you can always check its “seller profile” to consult reviews from other consumers.
- Consult online forums! Other consumers could have been already affected and deceived by the same seller. In addition, be careful to distinguish between false positive reviews left by the seller itself.
What to do if you have already paid?
- If you’ve already paid by card, ask your bank or the issuer (brand) of your card your rights in terms of demanding a reimbursement of the payment e.g. chargeback.
- Contact the police and file a complaint for fraud.
- If you contacted the seller through an intermediary website, contact the customer service of this site.