Why do the scam artists target small scale foreign buyers?
Let’s talk about why the scam artists target the small scale foreign buyers. It’s pretty simple. They’re easy to find. There’re so many buyers online: eBay power sellers, people that have a small eBay store, or some online store back home and they buy ten units of this, 20 units of that.
There’re so many people doing that on the side, and many of them think “Okay, let’s go directly to China and get a great price.” There’re lots of small scale foreign buyers now entering the market. It wasn’t like this ten years ago. Also, those small buyers tend to be uneducated. They’re not going to spend a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars for seminar and educational materials, tutorials to improve themselves. They kind of go in, not knowing the dangers, so they’re easy to rip off.
Also, even after the scam artist has tricked these buyers, what’s the buyer doing to do? You just spent $500 on the product. Are you going to spend $2,000 on a lawsuit to go after that Chinese scam artist? So the targets are each to find, easy to trick, and easy to avoid. That’s why the scam artist targets small foreign buyers.
Remember, there’s no safety net. It’s not like the police in China, or your embassy is going to help you out if you lost $500 in a scam. Don’t be seduced by the sirens song of a low price. If the price of the product is too good to be true, there’s probably a reason. Please don’t be one of these guys that say “Oh I know it’s risky, it’s only a thousand dollars. I’m going to gamble and give it a try.” You’re gambling, you know, the house usually wins, statistically. So if your money disappears, don’t get mad if you’re gambling. You have better odds taking your money to Macau or Vegas, in my opinion than just spend a couple thousand dollars to buy from a supplier you’ve never met online without doing some due diligence. And don’t worry, we’re going to talk about how to qualify these vendors to protect yourself.
I’d like to give you an example of what the scam artists often look like when you visit their website.
This is a real story, sadly, a buyer overseas spent $400 to buy two of these vehicles. They wrote to my helpline and said: “Mike, we were scammed!” I said, “Okay, tell me about it. What kind of product, what website?” And this is the website they sent me. They bought two of these vehicles for $400, so $200 apiece. Come on, are you really going to have a sophisticated piece of engineered vehicle for a few hundred dollars? But let’s assume that it appeared at a reasonable price, what are the other red flags on the website?
I’m sure there are dozens of signs that you should be aware of such as seller will request you to send a money via remittance or personal account, their company name is very similar to a legit company but not quite the same, cannot take your phone call using the contact number posted on their website, and many more. There are bunch of scam artists who really good in making their website appears to be legit. If you wanted to know the other signs and red flags about the scam artist website looks like, you may want to conduct red flag assessment to verify the legitimacy of the supplier and to source safe in China as well.
If you have read my previous blog articles about scams, I’ve mentioned that most small buyers especially the new buyers are hesitant to do formal due diligence to verify if the supplier is legit, maybe they are working on a tight budget or easily trust the seller as they are offering cheaper price. No one wants to get scammed even in a small amount, so it’s an intelligent move to conduct a double due diligence on all of your China business projects to better safe than sorry.
About the Author: Michael J. Bellamy
Originally from Upstate New York, Mike moved to Asia in 1993 and is a China business advisor to both Fortune 500 companies and small businesses. Recognized as an expert on doing business in China, he has been interviewed by WSJ, CNBC, FT & Bloomberg.
A featured presenter on China issues at seminars, trade shows and corporate events across the globe.
Learn more about Mike and AsiaBridge Law at