Firetrust

Anatomy of a Chinese scam

<Update 13th December>

Further to the information below, which you should read, because it took me ages. There is also a supplemental post here that relates to dealing with websites in China

http://firetrust.com/en/blog/chris/so-ya-wanna-deal-with-a-website-in-china

The full list of websites we think are dodgy can be seen here

http://www.firetrust.com/en/blog/chris/the-bigger-list-of-chinese-scams

<End Update>

 

Over the last three months I've spent a good amount of time on the web focusing on Chinese scams. In that time I've learned a great deal myself, and I think it's appropriate that I now convey what I've learned in a manner useful to you. It's my hope, that you can learn from this as well, and spread an awareness and knowledge that can improve your decision making processes with online dealings.
It's difficult writing for an audience you don't know much about. So I'm going to make some assumptions, and if anyone has anything to add, or feels I was too light or heavy on certain things, please let me know and I'll keep this posting updated. Special thanks to Rob for his assistance as well.

 

First, something I think is important for all of us to recognise, is we need to improve our decision making processes when dealing with companies online. I considered myself reasonably internet savvy three months ago, and in the time since, I've seen things that have left me shaking my head. There are very intelligent people working to deceive you. There are highly organised schemes, whose intent is to trick or mislead you. You should never assume for a moment that the internet is a safe place where no-one is ripped off. Internet crime and fraud is a multi billion dollar industry.

 

Second, I should point out I refer to the Chinese often, despite some of these websites not being in China at all. It's more of a colloquialism that I've developed when talking around the office. A vast majority of these websites are in China however, and I'm too lazy to change my slang.

 

Third, these tips and techniques are by no means only applicable to this particular kind of fraud. Perhaps it's just my curious nature, but I use these same techniques on many different kinds of websites. Even if I know that the website is 100% legitimate, I often do the same, or at least some of these steps. It's part of the learning process....practice, practice, practice. Over time you'll develop a sense of what looks good or not, and you'll also learn to spot trends and techniques that are used by differing websites.

 

Fourth, because of the nature of these websites it can be safe to make comparisons. What does that mean ? Well, (it's my understanding) a great number of these websites are actually purchased from parent companies. Apparently a template website can be purchased for around $600, and the purchaser (who could be anybody) in turn handles the process of taking the orders, and when you buy from these sites, they place the order with the parent company, then...in theory....send you the goods.
Now this brings up a whole lot of interesting complications, as it's clear that these parent companies couldn't care less what manner their goods are distributed. So the people who buy these websites have been found to spam heavily, to lie about the nature and quality of the goods, or in the worst cases, to not order anything at all and leave people out of pocket with no recourse for getting their money back. All of this is completely unacceptable, but thankfully the amateurism involved makes it that much easier to identify these websites. This also explains why we see sites that are virtually identical in appearance, but have different contact information, bank accounts etc..

 

Lastly. This posting is not designed to help you identify the difference between those who would send counterfeit items, and those who would just take the money. Don't bother even asking such a question, as it's a waste of my time.

 

 

Look at the website name

There's millions of websites out there, and as a result it stands to reason that people can't quite get the website name they might want. It's also understandable that those who are not particularly fluent in English may purchase a website name that they've translated from a term or phrase that makes more sense in their own language, but gets lost in translation.

Example
http://www.helloworldtrade.com
http://www.lovelyhope.com

It may be that the person buying the website doesn't even bother trying to make a name that makes sense.

Example
http://www.yyynnm.com
http://www.az168.com

 

Or it may be that people purchase names that mislead people into thinking that they are somehow official, or they choose a name similar to an existing legitimate company in an attempt to deceive.

Example
http://www.nikeolympic.com
http://www.nfl-trade.com

There can often not be a great deal of information within the website name, so this isn't a smoking gun, but it's always something to consider. What is the website name, how does it lend itself towards the company. What does it mean.

 

 

Whois searches

A Whois search allows you to view information relating to the owner of a domain name. There are plenty of tools available that allow you to do this, and obviously I use SiteHound.

I'll also refer to the website http://www.domaintools.com which has a simple and free web based search option. f you visit http://www.domaintools.com you will see a field age labelled "WhoIs Lookup". Simply enter the website name you wish to search and click on the "Search" button.
So if we look at some examples. I'll start with a search for firetrust.com http://whois.domaintools.com/firetrust.com
What you want to look at is the Registrant, as that is the person or company that the website is registered to. Here we see it's

Registrant:
FireTrust
PO Box 4620
Christchurch, n/a
New Zealand

Easy enough, if we also look at the Administrative Contact we see further contact details.


Administrative Contact:
Bolton, Nick
PO Box 4620
Christchurch, n/a n/a
New Zealand

One of the really useful pieces of information is the dates. Look at the dates the website was first registered, and when it expires. For sitehound.com we see this

Domain Name: FIRETRUST.COM
Created on: 01-Jul-02
Expires on: 01-Jul-08
Last Updated on: 16-Oct-07

What you want to look for is consistency, you want to look at the owners registered details and dates involved and see if they compare well to actual information presented on the website.

 

Here is the information as displayed in SiteHound

Firetrust Site Information

 

Let's compare that information, to information for a potentially dodgy site.
So we'll now look at elecsalon.com http://whois.domaintools.com/elecsalon.com

Registrant details are suspicious, as the address is lacking. I have no idea how many people in Beijing, but one would think you'd need more than a name and a postcode.

Registrant:
duan zhijie
beijing
100021
±±¾©

Administrative contact details raise some more flags, take a look at the phone/fax numbers that were provided.

Administrative Contact:
duan zhijie
duan zhijie
beijing
beijing Beijing 100021
CN
tel: 86 010 12345678
fax: 010 12345678

Now let's look at the dates

Registration Date: 2007-08-31
Update Date: 2007-08-31
Expiration Date: 2008-08-31

 

Again, the same information as displayed in SiteHound

Elecsalon Site Information

 

So this website (at the time of writing this) is only 39 days old. Now this might be fair enough, new companies pop up all the time.

 

Compare this to the website

Consider now though comparing what information you have so far to actual content on the website. We'll continue to look at elecsalon.com

A quick browse to this page, and we check out their contact information
http://elecsalon.com/info.asp?typename=contact
None of this matches the information we have, names, email addresses, phone numbers are all different than provided in the WhoIs results.

OK, what about these dates. Well, let's check out their About page http://elecsalon.com/info.asp?typename=about
There's one sentence in particular to look at "Now we have thousands of long term partners all over the world."

But the website is only 39 days old ? Thousands of long term partners ?
Now glance down to the bottom of the webpage, and you'll see this "Trade Online copyright@2006"

Confused ?

 

Quality of the website

Overall this website is lacking, certainly I would expect a far greater quality website from such a large and successful wholesaler. But start clicking on some links and we notice some oddities.
On the left of the page, click on the PayPal image and you get taken to their Payments page http://elecsalon.com/info.asp?typename=payment


Notice anything ?

There's no mention of PayPal, they also have a Visa icon on the left, but there's no proper use of Credit Cards for payment. They have an icon for a Credit Card, and they detail a bank account, but this is not a proper Credit Card transaction. If you made a payment from your Credit Card, into a bank account, your bank would clear those funds immediately for payment and you cannot get a refund or reverse credit card charges in this situation. Short version. None of these payment methods provide any kind of proper protection.

You may also see 'westernized' names, that are made up to make you feel more at ease.

 

Grammar and spelling quality

Back on the About page for elecsalon.com http://elecsalon.com/info.asp?typename=about


"We are dedicated to offering the best prices to the small orders, which traditionally can only be enjoyed by volumn order. All the possible ways of reducing the cost of order now is yours if you kindly choose us, since we do them for you. You may easily find out that, our prices are very surprising!"

Me speaky no English....you number one customer....you buy! you buy!.....I better stop there before I offend someone's sensitivities. If you aren't a great speller yourself, your computer has a spell checker, copy the text from the website, inject it into whatever program you have that can perform a spelling and grammar check, and see what comes back.

 

Web searches are your friend

I often search for the website name, so from your preferred search engine, go and type in elecsalon.com
Here's Google results http://www.google.co.nz/search?q=%22elecsalon.com%22&btnG=Search&hl=en which gives us almost nothing to work with.

The point here is that no historical evidence, no user discussion, should really give cause for concern. It may be too you find other people asking about websites, or discussing bad experiences they had. Don't think that no news is good news however. Reliable and honest internet companies will always reveal positive search results.

When searching you can also add words like "scam" or "fraud" to help refine your search.

 

Search for uniquely identifiable information

Another great way to investigate a website, is to take what should be unique information from that website and search on it. You would think, that the About page would contain unique information about the company, as every company is different.

So from the About page, http://elecsalon.com/info.asp?typename=about we'll take text and search on that
Here's the text I'll use in my search.

"is a wholesale group offering laptops, Digital cameras, videos, GPS, cellphone, mp4, game console and other electron products"

Here's the Google search results

Now, it's important to note when searching, that you should try placing the text within " " marks first, as that tells the search engine to only search for that exact phrase and not give you a lot of unrelated results.

We notice a couple of important things here, the first, is that elecsalon.com is missing from the search results, but more importantly, you get 6 other different websites that use that exact same text. 3 of these websites also appear to have been shutdown, or are no longer operation. If you were to repeat the above steps on these other websites, you'd realise there is a real pattern of deceit involved here.

 

Use of free services

Reliable and honest internet companies should not use free services for email. Hotmail, MSN, Yahoo, Gmail, should all be warning signs if they use that for their points of contact.

 

Buyer Protection

If the website doesn't offer secure forms of payment, or forms of payment that offer the buyer protection you should consider that a major warning sign. There are no excuses.

Do not pay by Money Order unless it's to a friend or someone you know you can trust. Money Orders are extremely common for fraudulent activity.
Do not pay by Bank Transfer unless it's to a friend or someone you know you can trust. Once the money has cleared your account it's gone, and you have little or no recourse to get it back.
Do not pay by Credit Card if you are paying into someone's bank account or purchasing a Money Order. Credit Cards are great for online transactions, but if you use the card to deposit into someone's bank account or fund a Money Order then it's treated as a Cash Advance from your Credit Card, which means that the funds sent to the account are sent as cleared funds which are unable to be stopped, as a result you are not protected.

Escrow is a common method of handling transactions, but you should always choose your own Escrow service, and not one that is recommended by the seller.

www.escrow.com is one of the more popular reliable Escrow services.

 

Western Union

Western Union is being used because it's totally anonymous and there's no way to recover the losses. Western Union itself has a warning/tip on their website that their service should only be used to send money to someone you know.

Taken from Western Union website

Sending money to someone you don't know? You could be at risk for consumer fraud.
The Western Union Money Transfer service is a great way to send money to people you know and trust. If you need to send money to someone you don't know well, you may be putting yourself at risk for fraud.

Because we care about consumers, Western Union urges you to protect yourself from fraud by considering the following:

  • Never send money to a stranger using a money transfer service.
  • Beware of deals or opportunities that seem too good to be true.
  • Don't use money transfer services to pay for things like online auction purchases.
  • Never send money to pay for taxes or fees on foreign lottery winnings.

 

 

Do not rely on third parties

Business to Business services such as Alibaba, TradeKey, and DHGate are common hunting grounds for the scammers. Many sellers (including the fraudsters) have a "Gold Supplier" Seal or something similar that is being obtained by the trading site. These "shiny" seals are more or less worthless though and prove nothing.

 

Consider what it is you are purchasing

There's simply no such thing as buying branded goods directly from the manufacturer in China. The companies who produce the product are bound by agreements with the brand owner and are not allowed to sell the products to just anybody. The brand owners, such as Sony, Nike etc...in turn have their own authorised distribution networks. If you are looking for branded product you should research and make an attempt to contact the brand itself and find out who are authorised partners. Some brands even detail this information on their websites.

 

Using Common Sense

I cannot stress this enough, if it's too good to be true, then it probably is. This sentence holds true in so many aspects of our lives, yet often when we sense a good deal or a chance to make a few bucks, we get greedy and we leave common sense at the door. It's useful to talk to friends, family or other peers as well, as they can often provide a reasonable balance. If they themselves aren't going to be benefiting from the experience whether it be an investment, online purchase...etc, you'll find that their judgement can be more objective than your own.

 

Final Say

There is no one thing that's going to answer all your questions. But with a little bit of investigation, with some proper consideration, and with some common sense, you should hopefully be better equipped to make the right decisions. You should always look at the smaller clues to paint the bigger picture, and not let your own greed cloud your judgement.

If in doubt, be cautious and don't let yourself become just another victim.

 

Comments are now disabled, use

http://www.firetrust.com/en/blog/chris/the-bigger-list-of-chinese-scams

I almost got reamed by one

I almost got reamed by one of these scams...like u said, I thought i saw a golden opportunity, and i left my logic at the door...no more

hi my my name is anis , and

hi my my name is anis , and y am in france , i need your help beacause i want uy a laptop from this website : www.gteno.com , i want know if its a scam or not , and if its serieous , and if y can reciev my goods from it ! thank you very much for your help

See here

100% it,s a scam. samir

100% it,s a scam. samir

Please, Tell me what do You

Please, Tell me what do You think about elelstor.com and if they use to play the bad games with clients, what can I do for stopping them. Regards.

See here

very good chris.a simple but

very good chris.a simple but effective way of solving the problem.

chris your so good and im so

chris your so good and im so thankful for all the info you gave,i wish i have read this blog before i got victimized.

i ordered from

i ordered from www.myieshop.com scam i paided by paypal for a camera for 600 they emailed me back and said to send money by western union cause it is being holded for tariff taxes i declined to pay they never sent back my money good thing i used paypal i called my credit card company they went after them gave back my money do not do business with them they WILL NOT SEND YOU THE GOODS anyone have any verified sites and i will give you a verified seller

HI I SEEN EBYZZ.COM ON THE

HI I SEEN EBYZZ.COM ON THE LIST, HOWEVER I HAVE NOT SEEN ANY COMMENTS ON ABOUT THIS SITE. I HAVE PLACED AN ORDER WITH THEM ALREADY HOWEVER I HAVE YET TO GET MY ITEMS. THEY STILL RESPOND TO MY EMAILS. THE REASON FOR ME NOT GETTING ITEM YET IS THERE IS A 770.00 DOLLAR CUSTOMS FEE. IM NOT FOR SURE BUT I THINK THIS IS A FRAUD ALSO. WHAT DO YOU THINK OR WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT EBYZZ? THANKS!!

I think so too.  You don't

I think so too.  You don't pay fees to the exporting country, they are paid (if required) to the country of destination.  They reply to your emails because they are trying to get more money from you.

Please make a simple search

Please make a simple search at google.com by typing www.ebyzz.com, there are a lot of sites making a reference to this site as an scam or fraudulent site. If you made a wire transfer, talk with your bank and see what they can do. Same applies for your credit card company. Next time make sure they would have any representative office un the US or they accept paypal payments. Good luck! Hadro

If found one who isn't in

If found one who isn't in your list yet... all names from china but IP from illinois usa. www.manypsp.com

Thanks, adding to the list.

Thanks, adding to the list.

hi i read what you said

hi i read what you said about manypsp.com, i wish i read it sooner i just sent them money, did this happen to you? are they really in america? thanks, Frank

Beware of www.tradesm.com,

Beware of www.tradesm.com, this website is a scam! I would like you to put it on your scams list. I ordered stock for $1,228. They told me that customs didnt let the packages through and demanded another $200 for shipping! This arguing went back and forth for 2 weeks, until I asked another suppier if there is anything I can do to recover my money, she stated that if customs hold packages they return all shipping costs to the supplier!!! Fujian ShengMei International Trade. Ltd is the Company name they use, which in fact is not listed, and the phone number on the website doesnt exist.Fujian ShengMei International Trade. Ltd is a SCAM.

Thanks Emily, adding to the

Thanks Emily, adding to the list.

Hi, Please add tom-ele.com

Hi, Please add tom-ele.com on your List, I got scam by them & lost almost $1,000 . They told me to pay by Western Union . I told them I can pay by Paypal , but they said It cost them alot , Western union is easy & they can ship my good's in one week . Which I never received it yet .!!!!!! :*(:(:( ( I prayer some one get them soon ).!

Hi, How trustworthy is

Hi, How trustworthy is DHGate? Has anyone used it before? Chris are you able to give any advice please? Thanks

DHGate is just a medium to

DHGate is just a medium to introduce you to others.  My advice is do not pay for any goods using unsecured methods.   My understanding is DHGate offer some kind of Escrow service to prevent scammers abusing their site, which is probably worth strong consideration.

I recently got scammed out

I recently got scammed out of £2500. Money was paid through dhgate but once your goods are received you only have 2 days to open a dispute if you are not satisfyed or have been scammed before they release the money to the seller. When i tried to open the dispute the site did not respond to this and when i tried to contact dhgate there was no response so i have to assume that this scam artists have found a way of blocking your efforts to communicate with dhgate or they're part of the scam as the money was released to the seller as i couldnt get through to them and i still have not had any response so i wouldnt trust using them for the escrow service

I found two website:

I found two website: www.eccvv.com and www.eeccvv.com I did order items from www.eccvv.com and seller said they shipped products out, but I got no tracking number. I'm gettting worried now. The www.eeccvv.com looks professional, but not sure can I trust them. Anyone order things from them before...

I think you have every

I think you have every reason to be worried.

It's also confusing, so bear with me.

 

http://www.eccvv.com - This website appears offline for me, can you double check the website name.

http://www.eeccvv.com - Adding this website to the list.

 

Both these website name are also strikingly similar to http://www.ecvv.com which is a legitimate Business to Business website (though be extremely cautious still, as scammers do frequent the site)

 

have you heard anything or

have you heard anything or seen anything back from this website because i was about to order things from there.

I have recently purchased

I have recently purchased items from eeccvv.com - I received a tracking number for EMS but it was not working so I contacted them to find out what had happened - they got back to me the day after to update me. At first I was very worried believing myself to have been conned, however, I did get a tracking number. The number showed that my package was at the Chinese port. The next day I had a look again to double check that everything was ok and my tracking number had been changed to a TNT one. When I had a look using this tracking number my package was in the UK - hooray. They did send something - it arrived today so I will find out if it is the genuine products I ordered (I obviously really hope so). I will post back tomorrow to let you know what happened and whether I have been sent genuine goods.

Hi So did you get the staff

Hi So did you get the staff that you order and it is all 100% original no replicas? can you reply me for pandorabox_@hotmail.co.uk. because they really have cheap staff in eeccvv.com but i don't know if i can trust. Thanks alot regards

Hi there.I would really

Hi there.I would really appreciate if you could give me your advise about a company based in Shanghai China called : Leage Non woven Products Co.,Ltd.I'm planing to make a deal with them (buy a big amount of there product) and I would really like to know if I can trust them.

I presume this is the

I presume this is the website you mean http://www.leage.cn ? 

I'm suspicious but not so much so that I would say to stay away.   The biggest question is can you pay using a method that offers you protection, such as Escrow.   Protecting yourself, particularly with large orders and companies you've not dealt with before is vital.

i was ripped off by

i was ripped off by focus900.com to the tune of 5000usd by wang zhan shirfrenk lily if thats their name everything was going well until they got my money me and my friend never heard anything from them again but we established new contact through another email and they replied in a heartbeat and still taking orders but we are still toying with them even this very moment they need to be stopped

Be sure to file a Police

Be sure to file a Police complaint too

did you do anything since

did you do anything since this?Because I thinkI have been another victim of them, but I am not sure. do you know more peopleof this page?

Hi all, I was taken in by

Hi all, I was taken in by www.gteno.com and agreed to buy a LCD TV, which was at an amazing price. I know that china has a lot of fake companies but this company seemed to be different as they sent me there company registration certificate, which was in chinese and they had an answer to all my questions which seemed to me to be genuine. I sent the money via Western Union and the company get me informed via e-mail the status of my order. After 4 working days from when the money was sent i got an e-mail saying that the item is in the hands of the CIQ (i believe it to be customs) and i have to pay extra money to release the item so it can reach the UK. I asked them to give me the tracking number of my item and i'll contact the CIQ direct and clear my item but the company refused to give me any details and insisted that i send them the money via western union. Does anyone know if i can get my money back by reporting it to the police? I have all the details of the person.

Probably not, but file a

Probably not, but file a complaint with local Police.  Money Orders are only good for sending money to people you know and trust, like family members.

 

Hi, Is Jinsanyang trading

Hi, Is Jinsanyang trading Co.,Ltd (www.jsytrade.com) legit? I couldn’t find it on your list. Shame that I couldn’t find this site earlier since I already sent them $980 already via Western Union. They told me that the product couldn’t pass Australian customs the first time, so they would have to resend it with a different carrier. I’m still currently waiting for the outcome. How likely do you think it is for me to actually receive the products from this company? Or have I just lost $980 to a deceiving scammer? Please kindly help me!!!! Thank you!

I think you've lost your

I think you've lost your money, perhaps they are just stalling, or they'll ask for more money soon.  Adding this site to the list.

Hi, mate I was thinking of

Hi, mate I was thinking of getting some things off them so im looking into them hence thats wht im here! why whats happerned and how long has it been since you first ordered?

Hi,you got a problem with

Hi,you got a problem with www.jsytrade.com. It is alredy solved now?? Because I sent them $850 two days ago and I still didn´t received any answer or tracking number. Please send me Your answer on kajan@elson.sk Thank You very much.

Yes. They are crooks. Took

Yes. They are crooks. Took my son-in-law for £400. Who was your contact there?

I past the same with

I past the same with www.jsytrade.com, they send me the 2 little chinesse cups, the contact of this company is Linda. Does someone knows a real page or contact in china for phones supplies? thanks G

HI buy a notebook from send

HI buy a notebook from send www.jsytrade.com using wester union $650.00, they send me the tracking number and when the package arrive was 2 little chinesse cups that the prices is not more the 2 USD..

Anyone heard of

Anyone heard of www.shenlitoday.com? I have ordered some ipods and received a tracking #. I'm not if that tracking # really have my products or someone else products. Is there a away to find out?

Looks like a scam to me. 

Looks like a scam to me.  The website was only created on 13th September this year.

 

Adding to the list. 

I suppose you've been

I suppose you've been scammed...the site you refer to is www.Jsytrade.com. If you check it in the domain tool, you will see it only excists since 06/10/2007 and ends on same date next year...so the site only excists since 14 days...I hope for you it ins't a scam, but it looks like it....

I am trying to get the word

I am trying to get the word out......do not deal with this company called jsytrade.com - they are scammers. They cheated us out of $1600. and sent us 2 $5.00 vases so we had a package to stupidly track. DON'T DEAL WITH JSYTRADE.COM, JINSANYANG TRADING COMPANY OR TRADEKEY.COM

hi i want to order from

hi i want to order from elelstor...the woman is talking to me and she sounds good what you think thanks

Isn't this site already on

Isn't this site already on the list ?  www.elelstor.com ?

But like you say, the woman sounds good, and if that isn't conclusive evidence that the site is legit I don't know what is :)

Seriously though, if you've read the guide and you're still asking these questions, there is nothing more I can do to help you. 

Hi everyone Can anybody HELP

Hi everyone Can anybody HELP if I have paid for goods via Bank of china last year and was sent all my goods as promised, no problem. Then a few months later stock was being sent back to me from my customers as most of them were faulty. I returned them to the supplier and he has only given me half the goods back. Im in a deficit of 4500US$ (value of goods)with this company but they said to me that they will only pay me 1250US$ to settle but I have also paid 800US$ for returning the items to them from UK and because they did not clear customs I had to go to Shenzhen to clear it at a cost of 2000US$. So in total I need back 7300US$ from these people. Whats worrying is that they are still operating today and have conned a few other people. My initial order with this company was 22000US$ back in July 2006. If anyone can help then please let me know as I will reward you.

My advice is go over to

My advice is go over to www.thewholesaleforums.co.uk and try asking there, as their membership is more knowledgeable about these kinds of things.  

hey chris about these

hey chris about these sites.. www.watrade.com www.multimedia-ele.com

First site is already in the

First site is already in the list, second will be added, tis no way it's legit.