Sophisticated grifts only grow with the rapid increase in popularity of online shopping. Millions fall prey to sophisticated cons, from counterfeit products to fake reviews.
The financial loss and stress can feel like too much to handle. But there is no better time to turn knowledge into prevention strategies. Furthermore, you can seek justice by knowing federal consumer laws and learning how to sue an online company.
Read on to empower yourself with valuable insights into the world of online shopping scams. If you should fall victim, our team is ready to refer you to a local lawyer.
Counterfeit Product Scams
Counterfeit product scams are prevalent in online shopping. It tricks unsuspecting customers into paying for fake, substandard, or dangerous goods. These may range from designer clothing and accessories to tech gadgets or medication.
Identifying counterfeit product scams can be tricky. Scammers have become adept at creating convincing replicas and accompanying product descriptions. However, there are tell-tale signs that you can identify on sites like eBay:
- A significantly lower price than the original market value
- Poor quality photos, inconsistencies in product details, or grammatical errors
- Sellers involved in counterfeit scams usually have a large number of negative reviews
Phishing is a cybercrime where scammers trick people into revealing sensitive information. These scams often take place under the guise of online shopping. For example, a criminal may send an email impersonating an online retailer with an “exclusive deal.” Once clicked, the link often leads to a fake website that imitates the genuine one.
To identify phishing scams, be wary of the following:
- Unsolicited emails or messages that demand immediate action.
- Email addresses or URLs have variations from legitimate ones.
- Poor grammar and spelling, as many phishing scams use automated translation services.
Non-delivery or non-receipt scams are a frequent issue. Here, a customer pays for goods or services but never receives them. For instance, an individual may order a designer handbag only to receive a box filled with rocks. In other cases, the customer might not receive anything at all.
Identifying non-delivery/non-receipt scams can be challenging. Fraudsters often create realistic listings and credible profiles. However, some warning signs can be helpful:
- Private sellers who insist on payment methods that do not offer buyer protection
- Sellers who are overly eager to finalize the transaction quickly
- Questionable feedback history and ratings
Overpayment scams primarily affect those who sell goods online. In these scams, a buyer will contact a seller about a listed product and agree to purchase it. The scammer then sends a check, money order, or digital payment deliberately higher than the price. They will claim this was a mistake and ask the seller to refund the excess. After the seller refunds the overpayment, they discover the original payment was fraudulent. As a result, they often cannot recover what they sent.
Several indicators can help identify overpayment scams:
- Any instance where a buyer pays more than the agreed price and requests a refund should raise immediate suspicion
- Scammers may rush the seller to ship the item and refund the excess amount before the original payment has cleared
- The buyer insists on using a less-secure payment method
This scam occurs when the seller misrepresents the product or fails to send it after receiving payment. For instance, a buyer could win an auction for a vintage piece of art. But upon delivery, they receive a worthless imitation. Alternatively, the buyer might win an auction only for the seller to vanish without a trace.
Signs that someone participates in auction fraud include the following:
- The price of the item seems too good to be true
- The seller has little or no selling history or feedback
- Sellers who insist on wire transfers or cash sent via mail
Fake Online Reviews and Testimonials Fraud
These frauds involve creating false positive reviews to boost a product or seller’s reputation. Alternatively, it may focus on giving negative reviews to undermine competitors. These deceptive practices can mislead customers on sites like Amazon into making poor purchasing decisions.
Identifying fake online reviews and testimonials can be difficult because they mimic genuine feedback. Nonetheless, these elements should raise suspicions:
- Look for patterns in the language used across multiple reviews
- An unusually high number of reviews posted within a short time frame
- The feedback lacks specific details about the product or the buying experience
Talk to a Local Attorney
Awareness and preventative measures can protect you when you shop online. You should be aware of your of your e-commerce rights. Healthy scrutiny and verifying sellers alone will go a long way. Regardless, you have legal options if you become a victim of a scam. Furthermore, immediate legal help can be instrumental in reporting the fraud and recovering your losses.