Huge Red Flag that a Website is a Scam Artist
In this blog post, we will talk about some of the red flag that you should notice when visiting the website of a scam artist.
It's a big red flag of the website shows a very wide scope pf products. The they are selling snowmobiles, EV's, jet skis, hover boards, bicycles, motorcycles, cameras, computers and water purifiers...come on! Not even Mitsubishi, Sony, General Electric, Philips, and Ericson combined have that type of product line. So something is very fishy here. Most likely, it’s a scam artist putting products up there that are going to attract the foreign victims.
Scam artists in Asia always post a generic picture of a Chinese sales girl on their customer service page. The funny part is that the scam artists can get lazy and they use the same girl's image on multiple sites. I’ve seen this girl’s face so many times along with the calls to action such as “Contact me via QQ or Skype”, “Call our phone number”, “Call me now, customer service, let me help you”. Somehow the scam artists must think that this girl’s Asian face attracts foreign buyers because I see her image all the time, and I don’t think this one girl works for a hundred different companies! It’s like the scam artists have a template for what website works to trick foreign buyers.
Google the factory address!
It's a red flag is the website says they have ten production lines with about 5,000 m2 of production space and hundreds of employees but when you check out the address on google maps it comes up showing a hotel, apartment building or restaurant! A little bit of due diligence usually exposes these scams.
It's a red flag is the "Chinese seller's" website is only in English. For example, usually a legitimate factory, because they want to show off their business to Chinese employees or their Chinese sub-suppliers, or the Chinese government, they’ll actually have a lot of the pages of their website in Chinese. The scam artists who are targeting English speaking foreigners don’t even bother with the Chinese part of their website. So that’s a red flag.
It's a red flag is the phone number for "Big Chinese Factory" is a personal phone or cell phone. Scam artists think you are stupid and don't know how to do basic research. They will say they are based in on place, but list a cell phone number that belongs to a different part of the country!
It's a red flag is the payment page doesn't list a corporate bank account and they try to funnel you into a Western Union type transfer. If you look carefully at the beneficiary name, and the account number and the codes, you may find it is a personal account in a totally different province or in Hong Kong or Indonesia instead of Mainland China. Scam artists can set up personal accounts using fake names and once they scammed a certain amount of money from the public, they would just change their bank account name and number. Unlike personal accounts, corporate accounts are harder to fake. Be careful if they try to trick you with “please transfer your funds to our official account at the Bank of China." It sounds really professional, but even though the bank account is within the Bank of China, it could be a private account!
Some scammers list a fake bank account to look official, then when it gets time to pay, they say “we prefer Western Union transfers. It’s very fast and low fees, so you save money and time.” Of course, they love Western Union because once you’ve sent it, the money is gone, and you have no recourse to get it back. So, of course, these scam artists love Western Union.
Price and Quotation
If the price is too good to be true, it probably is a scam. Do you really think you can get a Gucci bag for 1/10 of NY price? How is it possible for a company to sell you a motorcycle that costs less that the raw materials to make it!
Pay attention to the format of the quotation. Let's say you were dumb enough to fall for the scammer selling a $200 street legal motorcycle. If the format of the quote is just an e-mail, and it says something like "vehicle, gray color, 600c.c. $200 per unit"...you should run away.
A real manufacturer will give plenty of detail in their quote. A quotation should be a very professional document that has a lot of details.
Pro Tip: While there is no better business bureau in China, there is a website called supplierblacklist.com if you want to look up your potential supplier or see some of the scams that are going on and how foreign buyers have been tricked. In the next blog article, I will be discussing some particularly nasty new scams that are showing up these days.
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