The online space offers a great opportunity to entrepreneurs and e-commerce business owners to run their businesses. But like it is in every market, fraud and scamming have found their way into these spaces.
This is not the only challenge they are facing. So many online stores are mushrooming every day, making competition very high. It's also a challenge for getting real clients who buy products because trust takes time to build between the customer and the seller. Online retailers have to learn how to use different avenues to advertise their products and services.
Alibaba, as an e-commerce, has not been excluded from these challenges. And although it's considered one of the safest places to make your purchases, scamming cases have been rampant in recent years.
This article explains how some of these scams are orchestrated and how you can keep yourself safe from them.
Here are some of the common scams reported by Alibaba users.
This is the most common scam and has been on the rise recently. This is how it happens.
The scammer hacks into the supplier's email and communicates with the buyer, posing as the supplier. He then determines the goods to be paid for and the amount.
Finally, he downloads a recent pro-forma invoice and changes the bank details so that the buyer sends the money to their bank account instead of the supplier's account.
The supplier receives no money and so doesn't ship the goods. The money and the scammer are gone and almost impossible to trace.
It's easy to keep yourself safe from this scam. Before making any payment, always check the name of the supplier on Alibaba and the name on the banking details provided. The names should match; if they are not, that's a red flag.
I would also ring the manufacturer or seller, or get a middle person to do that for you, one who can speak both Chinese and English to help translate if required.
Delivering Wrong or Substandard products
In an e-commerce setting, this mistake mostly happens because of wrong information on the products, so the buyer ends up receiving what he didn't ask for. But in this scenario, we are not talking about such genuine mistakes.
In the case of fraud, the supplier deliberately delivers low-quality products, dysfunctional, or wrong products to the buyer. Some of these suppliers use the wrong branding to lure the unsuspecting buyer.
Some of these scams can be undetectable by the ordinary buyer because the supplier, instead of using the quality material indicated to make the product, use cheap and low-quality material to make the exact product ordered by the buyer. The goal is to increase its profits.
To avoid this kind of scam, Alibaba recommends that buyers have a third-party quality inspection done on the products before they are shipped to them. Alibaba has put in place a Trade Assurance program in a bid to protect the buyer. Take advantage of it. It's essential that you keep in mind that goods once bought and delivered, they cannot be returned.
Branded products Sold at Low prices.
Branded products cost a premium when sold on by the brand companies and their verified outlets. Unfortunately, people think that cheap branded products are genuine only that they are manufactured in China. But that's not true.
If you find a branded product being sold at a very low price, that's a scam. Avoid buying such. Branded products have established a name for themselves in the market and use the name to label their products such as Apple, Samsung, Gucci, etc.
To buy branded goods, it's better to get them from the verified outlets or the leading companies.
Additional Customs Clearance Fee
Here's how this scam works. After making payments, the suppliers sends you an email saying that the goods have been held by customs and require extra cost to release them.
There are no such custom fees, even when they send you a tracking number showing that your goods have been held in customs. This is a pure scam. The moment you receive such an email, just knows that you've fallen into the hands of a scheming fraudster.
Some are so cunning that after you make this second payment, they come back with another excuse just to scam you more. As disappointing as it is, you'll need to quickly accept that you have been scammed and move on fast so that you can avoid further scamming.
How to Be Safe on Alibaba
There is definitely a way to transact safely on Alibaba and get genuine goods delivered to you.
- Scrutinize the Supplier Company
Don't let assumptions take the best of you. Take your time to review the company's profile, checking their documents, their ratings from other buyers, and feedback given by other buyers.
You should confirm whether the company is verified with Alibaba or not. Suppliers with a Gold badge on Alibaba are definitely genuine. You can't get that badge by fraud. Also, you can use Salehoo or Doba to find quality manufacturers.
- Use Alibaba's Trade Assurance Program
Alibaba is determined to help its users stay safe while using their site to make purchases. You can use the program to complete orders and payments.
Check whether the company you are about to do business with has been accepting Trade Assurance in the past transactions. If yes, that's a genuine company, and you can use trade assurance to make your order and complete payment.
- Check the Payment methods Accepted by the Company.
You can determine if the supplier is genuine by the method of payment they ask you to use to pay for your goods. On Alibaba, there are many accepted payments and are verified. But if your client insists on direct payments without going through Alibaba, then that's a Scam.
- Check the Company's Transaction History
The transaction-level indicates how much the supplier has transacted on the site. The more transactions are done, the higher their transaction level. The levels are represented by orange diamonds shown next to the company's name.
The more transactions, the better. Because it shows that the supplier is legit and has been receiving regular orders, you’d definitely want to transact with such a supplier.
What Should You Do If You Get Scammed?
In most cases, scammers leave no trace, so it's hard to have anything on them. However, you can report your scamming issue to alibaba.com, and their team can work on it.
If the supplier is the perpetrator of the scam, make sure you have:
- Your communication history with the supplier, e.g., the emails you communicated with.
- The Pro-forma invoice sent to you for payment.
- Any sales agreement you had
- Photo and video pieces of evidence of faulty products
- Records of the transactions made.
If these records prove that there was a scamming activity that took place, then Alibaba can take action. But there's not much they can do because they are not a government agency, and their actions are limited.
The only way to ensure that you don't have to go through all this is to ensure that you watch out for any red flags and keep yourself safe from fraudulent people.
It's evident that scammers are everywhere, looking out for that one ignorant person for them to scam. With the information you have, you can keep yourself away from these scams and enjoy a good experience shopping on Alibaba.
We would like to hear from you. Have you been scammed on Alibaba before, or you know someone who has been scammed? Share with us your experience in the comment section. You never know; your story might just save someone who is about to be scammed.
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