How scammers trick Etsy marketplace shoppers: Internet Scambusters #1,063
Scammers are lurking on Etsy, the third-party marketplace where small businesses offer their wares.
From counterfeit products to phishing attacks, the crooks are trying to part victims from their money and sign-on details.
In this week's issue, we explain how these fraudsters operate and the 10 actions you can take to protect yourself.
Let's get started…
10 Ways To Protect Yourself From Etsy Scammers
You're shopping on popular online marketplace Etsy when you come across a product description that promises a much lower price if you go directly to the seller's own website and buy there.
With an eye for a bargain, it's easy to be lured into this type of come-on. But beware! It could be a scam. And by moving outside the Etsy trading platform, you could lose the protection coverage it offers.
It's true that some legitimate sellers use this tactic, but if the supposed discount is really big, like 40 or 50 percent, then you're likely dealing with a scammer. And, if you buy, you'll also be vulnerable to identity theft, since the crooks now have all your credit card or bank account details.
Alternatively, when off-platform, you may be asked to pay by untraceable methods such as cash transfers, money wires, cryptocurrency, and gift cards.
The usual pattern for this scam starts when the victim buys an item on an outside website. They usually get a confirmation message and, often, a tracking number. This makes the whole deal seem legit and delays alerting the victim to the con trick.
But when they get impatient and try to check their order, they find the website has disappeared, along with their money and financial information.
But tricking you into visiting an external website isn't the only way Etsy scammers work. Sometimes, they offer that too-good-to-be-true deal on the Etsy site itself. Although the firm uses rigorous security checks, some crooks still manage to slip through the net.
Sometimes, they bait victims with offers of free shipping or a free gift. Other times, they say the item is out of stock and try to persuade you to buy a costlier product that may or may not exist.
More Etsy Scams
Etsy is also subject to the same kind of fake reviews that populate many online sales sites. Other scams include:
- Counterfeit products, cheap knockoffs of well-known, branded designer items.
- Misleading descriptions. When you receive the item, it doesn't match your expectations. For example, you buy something that's described as handmade, but it's really a mass-produced item, often available elsewhere at a lower price.
- Over-priced items that simply cost more than you would pay elsewhere. The seller is hoping you won't check.
- Fake stores, selling non-existing products, and just there to harvest your card and account details.
- Multiple stores operated by one company but offering the same products at different prices. Sellers of the cheaper ones might say they're out of stock and point you to a store charging more.
- Phishing messages that appear to come from Etsy. These are designed to fool you into giving away sign-on information and other personal details.
- Sending worthless items to the wrong address so the supposed seller can claim it's been delivered.
How to Protect Yourself
As always, the biggest red flag that might signal a scam is a bargain price. Don't fall for this. The bigger the savings, the more likely a scam is and the more intensive your checking should be.
Ten ways you can protect yourself from falling victim to an Etsy scam include:
- Watch for bargain pricing, as mentioned above.
- Pay by credit card. If you're scammed, you should be able to get your money back.
- Don't buy on the basis of reviews alone - especially if they all award five stars and/or use similar language in multiple reviews.
- Read the store page's small print and all details regarding refunds and shipping times and costs.
- Do your research - investigate the seller's reputation and compare their prices with those of reputable sellers. If they're vastly different, that spells danger.
- And check the store site itself for spelling, grammatical errors, and strange sentences. Poor presentation sometimes signals a scam.
- Use Etsy's payment system. Simply don't go off-platform unless you know and trust the seller. And never pay by untraceable methods like gift cards and money wires.
- Don't click on links in messages seeming to come from Etsy. Go to the Etsy website and check any issues there.
- Check product images. Crooks steal them from other sites. By doing a reverse image search you can see if a photo is from another, unconnected website. See Is It Genuine? Check That Photo with Reverse Image Search.
- Print, save, or screenshot the listing you're buying from. This might be useful in a dispute - and the original might no longer be there.
If you find yourself in a dispute with the seller, for example if the item was faulty or misdelivered, use Etsy's own dispute resolution process. Start at Etsy's Buyer Policy.
Note that Etsy doesn't have the best reputation for its standards of customer service and support. That's why it's so important to follow our guidance on how to protect yourself.
And if you discover you've been scammed on Etsy, act immediately to limit the potential damage from identity theft. Inform Etsy, your card company, your bank, and the credit reporting agencies. And change your account password - you did use a unique one didn't you?
This Week's Scam Alerts
Fake AI: It hasn't taken scammers long to start cashing it on growing consumer interest in artificial intelligence (AI) software. Fake apps and programs purporting to be AI-driven are popping up everywhere. They plant malware on your PC when you try to install them. Don't buy until you've thoroughly checked out a product.
Extortion "assistance": Following up from our recent report on bogus scam recovery agents (see Scam Victim? Don't Fall For This Asset Recovery Lie), the FBI has issued an alert about firms claiming they can help victims of "sextortion" - a form of blackmail related to disclosure of private sensitive or explicit information about the victim. These firms are charging up to $5,000 for taking supposedly corrective action, much of it ineffective.
That's it for today -- we hope you enjoy your week!