12 Alibaba Scams And Tips To Avoid Them

Alibaba is the world’s largest B2B platform to source products and suppliers. You can find not only Asian suppliers but also suppliers based in Europe, Africa, North America, etc. However, most buyers are afraid of being scammed. Everyone who is not familiar with Alibaba, but wants to source products on it, will ask, “Is it safe to buy from Alibaba?” “Is Alibaba reliable?”

Some people even ask, "Is there a scammer list for Alibaba?"I spent weeks studying Alibaba fraud, reading hundreds of real cases, and categorizing them into 12 typical types in response to those buyers ' concerns. Such fraud can happen if you charge, check the manufacturer, or even reorder, etc. I select one real case under each scam type for your better understanding, analyze why it happens, and also give tips to avoid it. I think you're going to gain awareness of Alibaba fraud after reading this post, and find it easier and better for your future business.

Scam 1: Sell Brand Products with Very Attractive Price To Make You Hard To Resist

“They sell a smartphone with very cheap price 350$ for Samsung s7 brand new on Alibaba.”
“I was just about to purchase a PS4 for $200, and they accept Alibaba Escrow payment”.
“I am looking at Ps4 and Xbox one controllers. The companies say they are genuine.”
I noticed that this is the most obvious Alibaba fraud you're going to fall for while doing the analysis. People tend to think that advertised consumer products are made in China, such as iPhones, PlayStations, etc. Therefore, if they buy from China, the prices will be lower. Unfortunately, such low-priced offers on Alibaba are all frauds, although some suppliers will claim to be OEM manufacturers of such branded products. What you should also note is that all branded products have official marketing and distribution channels; authentic items can only be purchased from official stores or from reliable online sources. So be sure to remember the prices other people paid and bookmark this article the next time before you place an order and stop any future scams to save yourself from the boring processes of bad after-sales service after you find yourself scammed.

Scam 2: Raise Cost Upon Order Quoting Fair Price In The End

“I created the order, and the supplier changed the price of my order to 50% higher price, saying there were small mistakes of price, please check our price list and added a big amount for shipping cost also. This is a kind of click-bite, and if you forget to verify the final price and give the order, money is gone. Be aware!!! Fortunately, Alibaba cautious us saying that the order is modified, but it is all of our responsibility to make sure that the quoted price does not change.”
Alibaba's services were sold at a reasonable level in order to attract customers. Since Alibaba is a retail site, after you submit the request with the sum you need, you can only get a specific price. To encourage you to put the order, many vendors will give you a very favorable quote. They will ask for a higher price as soon as you send the deposit after confirming all the details for packaging, samples, etc. This is quite popular because manufacturers know that they won't spend too much time sourcing other substitutes or repeating the process of sampling. So if the final price is acceptable, the additional cost must be borne. Now you know it cannot be too important to always back up another 1-2 suppliers in case of some unexpected situations.

Scam 3: Send Out Sample With Premium Quality, But Rather Poor Quality For Bulk Order

“I am a reseller of gym products. Last month, I started sourcing Chinese suppliers for the shake bottle products. As it is my first import business from China, I required samples before mass production. I got the sample from a supplier based in Taizhou, and quite happy with the sample quality and quickly placed an order of 3,000 pieces. What annoys me is that when I received the bulk order, I found some broken bottles, and most of them feel much lighter than the samples. I immediately spoke to the supplier and opened a dispute. Now it is still under negotiation. God bless me.”
Sending a high-quality sample is the same as quoting a competitive price that is used as a strategy for attracting customers. When some suppliers know that their price is not so competitive, the premium quality will be used to convince you to place the order. Nevertheless, as the case shows, when they arrive, you may be shocked if you check the quality of the bulk order. This can happen a lot with consumer products that are used every day, such as clothes, boots, etc. What we recommend here is to use Alibaba trade assurance to place in the contract all the specifics such as color, content, etc. to ensure that the value of the bulk order is the same as the sample. Without the quality details, you cannot get a refund even using trade assurance when there is any quality difference.

Scam 4: Use Fake Certificates To Demonstrate Their Products Comply With The Regulations Of Your Country

“Hi guys, recently I’ve got an issue with suppliers. I am a toy importer and have been sourcing outside China. However, we are considering changing to Chinese suppliers these days, as we found Chinese suppliers’ price is 20% cheaper. But when I asked for the EN7 certificate, most suppliers said that they'd only show me the certificate after we place the order. I’ve been wondering, is it a sign of scam? Is Alibaba safe to buy from? As EN7 is a must, we choose not to take the risk.”
When you source products such as electronics, toys, etc., compliance certificates such as Rohs, CE for EU markets, etc. are a requirement for suppliers to enter the market and for you to legitimately sell the products, so the first thing you need to check with suppliers is whether they have such certificates. There are usually two types of scams that you should be aware of. One is that manufacturers will pretend to have records of this kind to persuade you to buy from them. Nevertheless, the records were altered by changing the name of the company via Photoshop. The other is that after placing an order, they promise to provide you with these certificates. However, they don't offer the guarantees for different reasons or give you an expired one after you place the order. You will either have to face the result that the goods are blocked at the time of clearance, or you will have to pay thousands of dollars for your own certificates..

Scam 5: Change Products Without Notification At The Time of Dispatch

“I had received my order from Alibaba yesterday. Unfortunately, when I opened the boxes, I found out it’s not what we ordered. It’s similar but not exactly what we ordered. We ordered before, and this was our second order from this manufacturer. We tried to work out with them and fix the order, but they keep saying it’s similar. It should be fine, and they don’t try to fix the issue.”
Sad to say that this is quite common among Chinese suppliers; it will occur either during first-order prescriptions or even repeating them. In contrast to the above case, there are other cases. For example, you place an order for 100% cotton shirts, you find something wrong with the material immediately after they arrive–80% cotton, 20% polyester mix. When you return to the supplier, they say the products look somewhat similar and will not affect normal use, so they will proceed without notifying you. If you need a reproduction or refund, the suppliers are not prepared to do so. If you got scammed on Alibaba in such a situation, what we suggest here is that no matter it is your first cooperation or repeat order, you must do the pre-shipment inspection or use trade assurance for protection.

Scam 6: Agree To Use Trade Assurance In The Beginning, Then Lie Do Not Receive Money

“I placed an order in the amount of $3,242.90 with a supplier and paid with Trade Assurance. The trouble began when the supplier kept insisting that he did not receive the bank transfer. I provided him with confirmation that I sent the payment with the bank details through Alibaba. He then advised that it was the incorrect bank account, and he couldn’t get the cash, and I must ask for a refund and meanwhile send another payment to the bank account that he provided to me that is not on Alibaba. “
I could tell you a secret that Alibaba vendors use market guarantee to get a better ranking in the search list of products. It is also used as one of the tactics by most manufacturers to attract more customers. However, as the case shows, they can lie that they don't receive it for different reasons after you send money, asking you to cancel the previous order, then arrange a new payment to their bank account. If you consent, you will lose all the trade coverage that pays for security. In such cases, the chances are, according to our experience, that the supplier is unsure of their quality, so they do not want to be processed under trade insurance. If there are any qualities, or other issues arise in the future, you lose all the money.

Scam 7: Attracted by Special Price Discount, Sending Money To Personal Pocket Of Sales Rep

“I had a signed and stamped Sales Agreement. Still, it is a dead end. When I was about to pay the deposit, the sales rep contacted me by his mail, requiring the payment to his account and offering a special discount of 15%. Although I’ve paid $500 for the sample, at that time, I’ve had no idea what to do. Thank heaven, I was able to shift to another supplier, though his price is 10% higher to make myself feel safer.”
This kind of fraud is also popular, generally happening at the time of salesperson considering quitting the company and scamming both the client and the business. The salesperson will find any excuses for sending payment to his / her account or threatening to screw up the order. What do you have to do if that happens? I recommend that you call the company's director or operator directly to address the problem and include them in taking care of your order.

Scam 8: Hack Suppliers’ Email, Asking For Payment To Another Bank Account

Such Alibaba scam is not necessarily a supplier's scam rather than a hacker's. The above shows how the hacker is working in a situation like this. Because we know, the mailbox for distributors is full of different kinds of messages, including marketing spam letters, consumer correspondence, and fraud emails. Such hackers will claim to be clients, tell the supplier to install something or use other tricks to steal the key of the supplier to enter their mailbox. They will hide there, check incoming emails every day; when they see customers making the order, they will use the message on behalf of the company, telling the customer that the bank account has been updated, Ask the customer to send money to a different account. In such a situation, what can you do? By phone call, skype, WhatsApp other than email, you must reach out to suppliers. Double-check if changes are real with the supplier. Otherwise, the hacker's money will be lost.

Scam 9: Buy Alibaba Gold Supplier (3-5 years) Account To Scam With Poor Quality OR Fake Products

“I want to buy some PlayStation 4. I found an 8 yrs gold member and got in touch with him on skype. He said that for two pcs I have to pay 150$ each but with MoneyGram or western union transfer, but for 20 pcs I can pay through PayPal 125$ each. Also, he assured me that is not a rip off by telling me this: “You are 100% guaranteed of receiving your order after payment confirmation, if you don’t get it within two days of shipment, we will refund your money back to you. After the submission of my RFQ, the so-called four years Gold Supplier got in contact and showed a premium product and quoted a price, which was higher than any other quotation that we received. But looking at the product, we agreed to pay the premium price for a better outcome. All the communication to that point was through Alibaba, . Still, when it came to the payment, the company insisted that the only way to do business with them is that we pay them outside Alibaba via bank transfer. Keeping in view that they were Gold Suppliers and that means something, we agreed on the Bank transfer. But after receiving the payment, they changed the product twice from premium to another mid-range product and then subsequently to a very cheap version, which we would have got from another supplier at a fraction of the price.”
First, let me tell you how Alibaba Gold Supplier works: by paying an annual Alibaba Gold membership fee of $4,000, anyone can become an Alibaba gold supplier. Gold supplier, however, means something, but not all. Some people are going to buy Alibaba gold supplier account at a high price for 3-5 years, then start selling fake products. You can't tell who's legitimate or not, only because of the number of years of supplier of gold. There are many other things to look at: recruiting a third party and visiting a plant to get to know the manufacturer in person, inspecting their equipment, manufacturing capacity, certificates of approval, etc. In a word, it's never easy to choose a reputable supplier, make sure to do some homework and take the necessary steps to check the supplier to mitigate your import risks.

Scam 10: Rob Your Money At The Time Of Payment Via Western Union Or MoneyGram

“I got scammed on Alibaba for ordering 20 MacBooks, and I paid $400 for each. The guys told me to send money by MoneyGram and don’t tell them the Reference number until I receive and inspect the goods as they won’t be able to make money without reference number but to send them confirmation of money sent. I did that, but somehow, the scammers are linked with Moneygram, and they gave the scammer money without a reference number. I never received my Macbooks or anything.”
I have find many customers asking what is Alibaba's best way of paying. The MoneyGram fraud above is generally rare but deserving of your consideration. The buyer found it very lucrative to buy MacBook for $400, as the case shows, although he may be aware of the scam of branded products on Alibaba, he still chooses to believe the supplier, who asks the buyer to advise the reference number after receiving the goods. What we learn here is that we can not see MoneyGram or Western Union as safe as Paypal or Alipay Escrow, even if the recipient needs a reference number to get money. As we cannot guarantee the agent cooperating with MoneyGram or Western Union will strictly obey the rules.

Scam 11: Cut Communication And Disappear After Receiving Payment Before Production OR Delivery

“I placed an order and traveled to the city, I paid the down payment and yet to receive my goods. As well as they refuse to respond to my requests, they have cut all communication. I have tried over and over to contact the salesperson and the manager, and I have gotten no response. I have now lost the sale to my customer, and I am out of pocket as even when I request a refund, no one responds.”
Generally this kind of fraud occurs to new vendors, who have been doing business with Alibaba for just one year or less. As we know, if he / she charges the annual membership fee for Alibaba, everyone can be a vendor on Alibaba. We may find it difficult for some new suppliers to proceed after the first year with Alibaba business, then start scaming customers as much as they can and disappear after receiving money. To stop such a scam, it would be best to use quality assurance to work with those new vendors or to choose a confirmed supplier with years of good records; things will be better.

Scam 12: Ask For Higher Price Using Different Reasons And Threatens Not To Deliver Goods

“I was looking for suppliers of computers and tablets. Since I trust Alibaba and I have no hesitation when Alibaba suggests me, suppliers. Now I have sent money to three different companies to buy computers. For more than a week, I have not received a return. And one of the suppliers tells me that the Chinese customs block the goods and asks me to pay another 30% of the total price of my order. Otherwise I will not receive my package.”
This is the price change scam, which is also common. Besides the aforementioned explanation of customs stopping goods, there are other explanations. Of example, the manufacturer may say the raw material price has increased dramatically at a low cost after the original quote. Therefore, in order to start production, they will have to change the price. This may be true, but the reality may be that because of the increased price of raw materials, they can not bear the loss of profit. Some will even delay production, waiting for the quantity of raw material to reach the previous level. Sometimes they'd rather wait for another 1-2 months, lying to you that the production was started, but they didn't. If the above scenario occurs, you're likely to miss out on the best-selling seasons, especially for seasonal products such as X'mas gifts or summer products such as swimwear, pool toys, etc.