You found your unicorn, the bag you’ve always wanted, at a bargain price. You’re excited like a child on Christmas. This also means you’re vulnerable and that’s when the scammers can trick you.
Here are the most popular bag scams for you to prevent being trapped AND steps to take if you've fallen into this trap.
POPULAR SCAMS WHEN PURCHASING ON EBAY/LOCAL SITES (NOT ONLY)
There are two major risks when you’re buying from a local sale/web site:
1) You can come across a fake that is being sold as an authentic bag
2) You will see an authentic bag on the pics meanwhile a scammer wants to send a fake bag is sent
They say know your enemy - let's take a look at the scammers' tricks, how you can protect the transaction and steps to take if you got scammed.
No pics / Blurry pics/videos of the bag (fake bag)
That’s a red flag. You are about to buy a bag for about a 1000$ and the seller only posted 2 photos? You deserve the best photos of the merchandise. It’s at least strange that a person who is selling a bag for 500-3000$ is not ready to take proper photos. Videos are even worse as you cannot see the details.
It was my 24th birthday and my boyfriend said - hey, let's get you a bag. I found an LV bag on a local site and fell in love. The seller sent me some blurry pics apologizing for her phone camera quality. She said I can drive to her neighborhood and she would show me the bag but only after 11 pm. She lived in the opposite part of the city. After the official celebration with my colleagues, we headed to her place. It was dark. Almost no light. She brought the bag and started talking nonsense. About her son though she looked like 15. Asked some questions about me. I guess it was all about distraction and my poor knowledge of the brand. At that time I was so young I did not even realize that someone may want to trick me :) That bliss cost me my monthly salary.
A fake with full authentic packaging at a no-brainer price
Photos: fake bag with authentic packaging (probably the date code/made in pics will be missing)
To be sent: the same fake bag
Well, sometimes they do take time and upload a lot of photos. Box, ribbon, receipt, care booklet, and a new bag. ‘Oh, do not worry about the bag’s authenticity, I have the receipt!’ claimed the seller who was asked to take more photos of the bag. Instead, she sent me a receipt pic. ‘Just ask them to look at the customer base’. She was right, there was a customer with such a name. But does that guarantee that the bag is real? HELL NO.
What scammers do is they just steal photos of an original item and find prey. Then they find the same model on Canal street. The box, the ribbons, and even the receipt can be authentic. Just one transaction can bring them over 1000$, they do have 30-50 spare bucks to buy authentic dustbags and receipts. There are people who throw away or sell the original packaging, including receipts. Again, only the bag should be considered when determining the authenticity and you should have access to all the pics required.
Mixed photos (from two bags, fake and authentic)
Photos: fake bag mixed with stolen photos of an authentic bag
To be sent: the same fake bag
As you know, sometimes it's very hard to define if the bag is authentic. The finest detail can be a giveaway that will save you money. So why not replace the photos that give away the fake? In this scam, the seller takes several pics of the bag in her possession and replaces all the photos that have any evidence that we bag is not authentic ('made in' tag, date code, zipper) with stolen photos from another bag. How many buyers will compare the font on the 'made in' tag when they receive the bag? Apparently not that many. That's why you need to see the most important parts of the bag before purchasing it. If you buy on eBay, they should in the listing, otherwise it will be really hard to prove that's not the bag you ordered since many fakes look absolutely as its originals except these tiny little details.
Fake as it is with clear, good photos
Photos: fake bag
To be sent: the same fake bag
Yes, it can be as simple as that. 100$ fakes are sold as authentic items all the time. The trick is that the seller tries to sound damn convincing. Sure, she bought the bag in Paris on Champs Elysees in 2009. She will often say that she's ready to go to any Louis Vuitton boutique and have sales assistants confirm the authenticity of the bag. But guess what. Sales assistants have no right to confirm the bag’s authenticity so do not rely on this source.
Yes, there is also a chance that a person selling this bag does not have any idea it's fake. Such cases are rare though.
Asking for a small fee for layaway (no bag at all)
Photos: most probably stolen photos of an authentic bag
To be sent: nothing
The strategy is to make you pay a relatively small deposit to their bank account/Western Union/non-PayPal to put the bag on a layaway.
Several months ago I found a bag on a local site and that was the model and the color I was looking for at a very good price. Not incredibly good but nice. I asked for more photos and the seller said she is currently in Europe and the bag is at home with her sister. 'I'll ask her to take some pics', she said. That was the first red flag. Why not give me her sister's number if she was traveling? Then I said ok, I am gonna drive to her sister’s house and take a look at the bag myself within 2 hours. She insisted, ‘You know, two other girls are interested in this bag, but you were the first. Can you transfer just 100$ so that I could put the bag on layaway for you? ’At this point, I realized that’s definitely a scam. Later that day I realized why. I look at the same model and color on eBay, guess what I found. The photos she sent me. I believe she never had the bag.
Authentic bag on photos, fake bag received
Photos: stolen photos of an authentic bag
To be sent: a fake/nothing
That’s a very popular scam. Imagine you finally found your unicorn (on eBay or on a local site) at a great price and in great condition. You authenticate the bag and it turns out to be real! You happily buy it with shaking hands, afraid that someone’s going to intercept it. Finally, the postman brings it and it’s beautiful and gorgeous until you look at the date code. And it turns out that the date code does not match the one she showed you from the beginning. Moreover, the bag is fake.
TIPS: WHAT TO DO PRIOR TO PURCHASE
No matter where you are buying your unicorn, here are the steps to take for you to be protected:
1. Ensure the bag is in the seller’s possession.
Ask for more pics or for a pic with the seller’s name.
2. Ensure the bag is authentic.
Remember that nothing guarantees the authenticity of the bag except careful examination by a professional (and even in this case it’s just an opinion). It's not that easy anymore. For instance, many authenticators now refuse to examine Chanel bags after 15xxxxxx series, cause the fakes are too precise and it's impossible to tell them without onsite examination.
There are very reputable authenticators on the market who will confirm the authenticity for a small fee (15$) but at least you will find peace of mind. A professional authenticator should and will ask for as many photos as possible, so be prepared to ask the following photos from a seller:
- Hardware (all engravings)
- All heat stamps
- Date code
- Stitching close-ups
- Probably more
Sometimes it’s very easy to spot a fake by one or two photos. However, with super fakes flooding the market, it’s getting harder and harder for an authenticator to make a decision. After all, her/his judgment will either make you waste the money or buy the bag of your dream.
When the price is incredibly good, it’s very hard not to give in to the temptation to pay instantly just to take advantage of an incredible deal. That desire is exactly what a scammer wants.
3. Print screen the seller’s post with seller’s contacts.
Have a valid proof that the seller stated that the bag is authentic. Print screen the bag’s date code. Never even look at the bag that does not have a date code in its description (we’ll see why later in this article).
4. Never give in to sellers asking a small deposit for the bag to be laid away for you via bank transfer.
Most of these are scams, the seller disappears and the bag is never sent. It is ok to send a deposit via PayPal.
5. Pay with PayPal invoice.
Invoice, not Friends and Family. If you pay via PayPal friends and family (which is 3% cheaper), you will have no guarantee whatsoever! PayPal will not protect this transaction! Paypal invoice offers protection for buyers across the world. If any problem emerges, you will be able to file a claim there. Clearly specify the model and the date code of the bag you are paying for. For example, “Authentic Louis Vuitton Speedy 30, date code SP1033”. It will make your life easier afterward.
STEPS TO TAKE IF YOU BOUGHT A FAKE
1. Try reaching out to the seller. Chances are very poor, however, there are still honest people there. Many local sellers are not brand experts, they may have received this bag as a present and thought it was authentic all the way. At least try to let her know the truth.
2. However, most probably the seller will not answer at all or will insist that the bag is authentic. Eventually, she will refuse to give your money back. If talking to the seller does not work, your best chance is to file a claim but you will have to prove the bag is not authentic. Get a certificate of Authenticity from a reputable authenticator. Several authenticators can issue an official statement that you can use in the dispute.
3. File a claim. At this point, the legislation is different all over the world but you will definitely need a certificate of authenticity.
If you paid via PayPal, file a claim there. They will ask for CoA. Collect all evidence that proves that you did not receive the bag you ordered (original listing, ). Returning your money may take several months but eventually, you will get the money back.
If your transaction was via bank account, you did the print screens and you transferred the money, you can report a scammer to police but you need a clear statement that your bag is not authentic and the evidence that the money was supposed to be a payment for that bag.
I hope this information will help everyone to stay safe.
Have you been scammed or close to be scammed?
Were you able to get your money back?