In this case, we are referring to fake products listed on genuine websites such as Amazon or eBay.
How do they do this?
- Piggybacking – this is where dodgy sellers try to dupe consumers into purchasing by adding fake products to genuine listings. Again, this is unfortunately very easy for scammers to do on Amazon, especially if the product is a counterfeit claiming to be the real deal. ALWAYS try and buy from the brand itself if you can.
- Stolen Images – this is where scammers steal photos from the legitimate brands sites and use them in their listings. This makes them appear genuine to an innocent buyer.
- Familiar Names and Trademarks – this is where dodgy sellers aim to dupe consumers into buying their knock-off products by using names that are very similar to those of big, well-known brands. An example here would be BogusBuster (genuine) versus BugusBoster.
What should I look out for?
- Cheap Prices – If it is too good to be true, it probably is. This is often a tell-tale sign that something is not authentic.
- Poor quality images – look out for images that are fuzzy, out of focus, just plain odd or potentially covered in out-of-place stickers.
- Spelling mistakes – this can be a really obvious thing to look out for. It is well known that a lot of fake products originate in China, so a translation may have been automated and read strangely as a result.
- Reviews – what do the reviews say? If they are bad, it’s probably safer to avoid buying here. Additionally, if all of the reviews are VERY good and VERY similar in language and tone – then beware. This may be the seller faking the reviews.
- Seller location & delivery time – try and buy products that are coming from within the UK as this helps to maximise the chance of the product being sold by an authorised reseller or by the brand itself. Sometime the seller’s location can be identified from the site listing . A long delivery time can be a giveaway that the product/s may be coming from China and may well not be genuine.
How can I protect myself?
- If you can, buy from the brand’s genuine website. If you can’t, does the brand’s website offer a list of authorised sellers or dealers that you can safely buy from?
- Make sure the listing contains high quality pictures – try to avoid those with neon text and additional comments on them that don’t look like they belong on the original image.
- Avoid all listings with spelling or grammatical errors. These can be glaring and a really quick way to spot a fake. It really isn’t worth the risk.
I have been scammed. What should I do?
If you believe that you have purchased a fake item there are a couple things you can do.
Firstly, attempt to contact the seller, you may be able to return the item.
Secondly, contact the site in question (i.e. Amazon, eBay etc.) – these platforms often have very good customer service and will talk you through how to claim your refund. You can find a list of the main site contacts here.
If you paid through PayPal, you can open a dispute with them here. You may be able to claim your money back.
Alternatively, contact your bank and dispute the payment through them.
Rosie is part of the investigations team, with Coco. She listens to the chatter, sniffs out dishonest sellers and passes the info onto the team. She loves baths, but mostly for the splashing and chaos.