Dealing business with someone you can’t see is a common thing when you are doing business through internet. You don’t know the person who sells or buys whether they are honest or just a type of a person who will cheat you for money, but being stucked in this kind of worriness also will not solve the problem. As business must keep on running, sometimes you need to trust your seller/buyer. Unluckily, sometimes also you found that someone you have already given a trust to, eventually became someone who cheated on you.
As a Virtual Assistant, I have seen many of fraud cases happened, fake buyers, fake sellers, all of them pretended to be ‘true’, offering such a ‘wonderful price’, a ‘wonderful’ product, that were too good to be true. I spent sometimes participating in Alibaba forum and read some stories of people got cheated from SCAMMERS from my country (or claimed to be). Also got some replies for help verifying a company from so many international traders. Therefore, I would like to share my tips to help people to prevent from being SCAMMED.
- Never believe on such a good price. SCAMMERS would offer you such a very good price which make your dreams come true, but, at the end, you would be left with losing out your money, without getting any products you wished to buy. Try to use our sense. Branded products for only 10 – 30% from its original price? It’s ridicoulus. Even the big distributors that hold the licensee to distribute the product itself would not be able to get that price.
- Branded product buyer would be the FIRST TARGET. If you are dealing with branded products, mostly electronics, hand phone, pda, gadgets, computer stuffs, baby strollers, toys, collection items, cars, motorcycles, jet ski, snow board, and other kinds of branded products, you have to realize your risks as the chance for you to get SCAMMER is very high. Some ‘nice seller’ would send you fake items, while the rest of them, would send you nothing after you made a payment. Looking for a high margin, by try to find the branded stuffs in developing country, sometimes is a good idea, but most of the times, it is not that GOOD. As a people who’s been born, raised and living in Indonesia, I don’t believe that the price for branded stuffs are lower than other countries. Suppose it is cheaper, it wouldn’t be so far from other countries’ price, which after freight cost, it would be the same in your country’s price. I have checked on this for some items. If that’s the case, wouldn’t you think it is better to hunt for the stuffs in your own country?
- Never ever make payment through Western Union or T/T to personal bank account. Though maybe paying through WU or T/T to personal bank account is the simplest way, but indeed, it is the best method for SCAMMERS to operate. WU is simply can not be traced. I don’t know other country’s method for withdrawing WU, but here in Indonesia, we only need to show ID card to the WU agent, and get money. As making ID card is not so difficult, applying for bank account with fake IDs is also easy. That makes personal bank account payment is not safe either. Many SCAMMERS would say that buyer must pay to their manager, owner, or other position in the company’s bank account. It doesn’t make any sense actually. Why would buyer have to do that? A real company, with a valid license, legitimated, shouldn’t ask for making payment through personal bank account as it would violate tax rule. Even if it is only for sample.
- Business licenses makes you feel confident? HOld on a second. What kinds of business licenses that we are talking about? Do you really understand the seller’s country regulations, languanges and other rules to ask your seller to provide you with copies of all documents? If you have links, channels or network to verify those documents for you, that won’t be a problem. But if you were only given some certificates, and you don’t even know what it means, you should not feel safe. Documents can be easily faked. Other companies’ real IDs and certificates can be easily stolen, copied or used without their knowledges. If you are not so sure about the company you are dealing with, or need help to verify companies, find your friends, colleagues, or someone you can trust, that live in the same country.
- Alert for someone that could only give you mobile numbers. Always check and recheck the phone numbers given to you. The cost of calling by Voip wouldn’t cost you much compared than being SCAMMED and lose lots of money. Verify the phone and fax numbers of the company before you got direct to the seller/buyer’s mobile phone. If someone picked up the phone and couldn’t answer in English, then just forget it. Mostly, legitimate companies who are dealing with exporting would be prepared to stand by at the phone with ‘speaks English’ operator, otherwise they would have to lose many customers. Also one thing, try to verify whether the company’s given phone or fax number is really fixed phone numbers or just mobile number. Ask someone in the trading forum, your colleagues, friends or any other to give information about the phone number if you are not sure. I am sure many of nice Indonesians would be willing to give you information about this.
- Googling sometimes is the best. Try to google the company’s name, the company’s address, the phone numbers, the email address, the account number, even the name of a person that is in contact with you. FInd if they are under any other threads, posts, companies, etc.
- Avoid to deal with someone with free email service. Also always check their domain, when they gave you their domain. Many tools provided to check out for this information. How long the domain have been purchased, under whose name, check out their IP address, etc. You might feel better to act a little detective at the beginning to assure your partner’s reputation, rather than regretting of something later on.