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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Online purchase scams- sellers beware!




Last week I heard that cha-ching that notifies me on my ipad that I had a sale on Etsy.  I was momentarily excited to see that it was my $650 collar.  That is until I read the message that came with the order.  Right away alarm bells went off.  Here is the message- I have highlighted the parts that made me suspicious:




My name is Erica. Am looking for a good costumer that i will be buying goods from if you can be the one I'll be very happy to have you as my good suppler. Do you accept Check as mode of payment .... ? Because i can only make the payment through Check if you do i will patiently waited until the Check cleared the Bank. Please am looking for understanding and honest to deal with, hope we are going to be a good business partner if you are honest. I think we still have much things to talk about and i want you to get back to me on my email so that we could talk better there hope to read from you soon. Best Regards -Erica.

"Her" etsy store was "*****begodly"- nice touch-right? They had just joined Etsy the day before and had no feedback.   I have gotten a lot of emails of this type in the past, but this is the first time someone put through an order on my Etsy site.   I was almost positive it was a scam- but there was that slight outside chance that it was legit.  What to do?  I didn't want to reply directly to their email- I am not sure why, but I felt that would be tied in with this scam. So I replied through an Etsy convo:

Hello Erica,
Thank you for your purchase. I am writing through Etsy and not your personal email because there have been so many scams lately on Etsy and I am very cautious. Because of this, I need to receive your check within one week, or the item will be relisted. After I receive your check, I will not send the necklace until it has cleared the bank. I am sure you will understand- there are dishonest people out there and I have to protect myself. I will notify you when I send the necklace. If this transaction goes smoothly, I look forward to working with you. Thanks!

I waited for a reply from "Erica", but there was none.  Meanwhile, I reported this order as a suspected scam to Etsy.

I  received this reply from Etsy:
Thanks for reporting this. I really appreciate your help in bringing this to our attention. This account and any accounts associated with it have been closed; the account holder no longer qualifies to be a member of Etsy as described by our Terms of Use. 

This article from our Help page explains how to spot this kind of fraud in the future: 
http://www.etsy.com/help/article/336?utm_source=compass&utm_medium=email

It is really worth checking out this link and reading it- very informative!  Evidently, there are several scams- usually involving sending a check or cashier's check for more than the purchase price, then asking for the seller to refund the extra.  Meanwhile, the check is no good.

I have changed my Etsy settings so I will not accept checks or cashier's checks.  I feel badly doing this- but I think if someone really needs to pay by check they can contact me and we can work something out.  I know this will not solve the problem (read the part about PayPal and false PayPal payment confirmations in the link), but I hope it helps.

This scam is certainly not exclusive to Etsy.  Anyone selling online should beware.  We all need to spread the word and educate ourselves on how to protect ourselves.  If fewer people fall for this, the fewer scammers there will be.  Please share this wherever possible, and be careful! Fortunately, I was just suspicious enough. The internet is a wonderful resource for selling our products, but there are dangers involved.  If you have doubt about any order- check it out!  

I know I am not the only one to have dealt with this fraud.  Please feel free to share your stories here.  Have you ever fallen victim to one of these scams?  How did you handle it?  Do you have any advice? Hopefully by sharing your experience you can help others avoid loss.

19 comments:

  1. Betty, Thanks for sharing this. I've had several Etsy scammers contact me as well. I do appreciate that Etsy is very proactive on protecting sellers by removing these people. (Though I wonder if they just change names/accounts, since their methods are so often similar.)

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    1. Yes, I was very happy with the way Etsy reacted so quickly. And I also agree that the scammers just change names/accounts and start again. That's why I think we all have to be so cautious about this.

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  2. Great post, Betty. I sell small fry stuff but I too have had one of those emails. Someone even tried to get me to do it via coversation on facebook once! I made a special custom bracelet for them and they wanted me to send it overseas where they could sell it at a large profit...IF I sold it to them for a pittance. When I presented my price, all of a sudden they had been out of work, bad back, etc. They just disappeared after a while and I never heard back. I kept the bracelet of course and it turns out it's one of my favorites. Lesson learned.

    Not only do the highlighted sections make the alarms go off, but the entire email is suspicious because it's translated from some other language or they just have very poor English because English is not their first language. That *always* makes me concerned, especially the "cadence" of the message..." Please am looking for understanding and honest to deal with, hope we are going to be a good business partner if you are honest." RIGHT. THEY are the dishonest person with the bad deal. Geez.

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    1. Agreed- the poor English is an alarm bell. But there are legit non-English speakers who use translations, too, so it is not always a scam. Also, now with the tiny keyboard on smart phones, and auto correct, I am afraid that my own emails are sometimes pretty wonky!!

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  3. I often get these kinds of emails from my beadwork shop on Etsy. I do give them the benefit of the doubt and contact them, but only via the Etsy convo. If they don't reply within a couple of days I contact Etsy admin about it. It saddens me to think people will stoop so low and go through all the Etsy account setting up etc just to scam us.

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    1. I know! It doesn't seem like it would be worth it! (but I guess that is why I make my living beading instead of scamming people out of their money!)

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  4. Thank you Betty for sharing this info. I opened an Etsy store recently to try to sell my jewelry. I have had a website for several years, but have had no action on it. I have not received any such messages or emails, but have herd from a few other facebook beading buddies, who have had this problem. It discourages me some, because my shop is not doing well. Would it be safer if I just closed it??? I don't know, but I also don't like the fact that I share the same "name" with this scammer...
    Thanks again, Erica Faith

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    1. Erica- Etsy is a great way to sell your jewelry without a big investment and relatively little risk. They do what they can to protect their sellers, but there is only so much they can do. The rest is up to us. Don't feel you need to close your shop- we just all need to be cautious and alert to these type of scams. And don't worry- I doubt this scammers name was really Erica!!

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    2. Thank you for your words of encouragement! *:-)

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  5. Thank you for sharing, Betty. I have an etsy shop but I am not opened yet. I will be extra careful now. I was already aware of scammers operating through online craft groups that I belong to. They have been trying to sell well known brands of articles in a craft group, obviously they didn't make them. Each time they were kicked out of the groups, they tried to come in under a different name.

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  6. I had the same experience on Etsy recently. My radar went off when I saw she was a new Etsy account and I Google Earthed her address. It was a small fabric store in Los Angeles. I emailed her back and asked her if she lived in that store. She never answered and I reported it to Etsy.

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    1. Smart to use Google Earth- I never thought of that one!

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  7. Thank you for sharing your experience - what a shame that there are people who do such things.

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    1. Think of all that creative energy going to waste!

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  8. Amen. I have gotten these types of scams too, but the step of actually making the purchase is a new one for me too. Usually, the misspelling, improper grammer and the need to contact outside of Etsy convo is just a huge red flag. I am off to read Etsy's info as well. Thank you for the excellent reminder!

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    1. I think the Etsy info is really excellent- things I had not even thought of. For instance, the one where they send a false paypal payment verification! Yikes- I need to be more watchful on that one!

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  9. Really great info to have! Thanks for sharing!
    I don't sell on Etsy but had TWO different messages come through my website asking for outrageous amounts of my product then the buyer wanting to use their OWN shipper and they were willing to send a "cashiers check" for the payment both times. I conversed with the first one several times before respectfully declining, the second was shut down from the get-go.

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    1. Glad you were on your toes. It is too bad, though, that it is necessary to be so suspicious- but it is!!

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  10. Very interesting ..I don't have an Etsy account but I read the story and my first thought was EBAY.I'm not trying to advertise Ebay ,just tell you my experience.I buy or sell staff only on Ebay because the protection there is 100%. I never had any problem with buyers or sellen on it.It's just a thought.

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