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New Alibaba SCAMs Exposed: Tips and Tricks for 2021!

August 2, 2021 by Andrew Minalto - 1513 Comments
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New Alibaba scams discussed in detail here.

“Alibaba is a SCAM” – you’ll find this written everywhere online! The truth is, yes, it is possible that you may get scammed on Alibaba.com IF you don’t know what you’re doing. However, with the information you learn in this blog post, the chances of you getting scammed on Alibaba will be very slim.

Is Alibaba Legit?

Just to be clear: Alibaba itself is not a scam. In fact, it’s one of the largest companies in the world, with a market value of tens of billions of dollars. Alibaba.com is simply a platform where buyers and sellers meet. Yes, there are some scammers on Alibaba, just like any other online platform, but that doesn’t mean Alibaba itself is a scam. By that logic, you can say that eBay, Amazon and Gumtree are scams because you can find MANY unscrupulous businesses on those websites, too.

That’s why I find it hard to answer when people email me asking for an Alibaba review, because that depends entirely on the seller. If you’re asking purely for my review of Alibaba as a website, then the answer is I love it! Yes, it is reliable! It’s made sourcing from China, and many other countries, incredibly easy and opened up opportunities for people who previously would never have been able to start their own private label business. So if you’re wondering if Alibaba is legit and safe to use, then my answer is a resounding yes. But of course, that is true IF you know what you’re doing.

And that’s what today’s blog post is all about. I’m going to show you how to spot scams on Alibaba and how to find trustworthy and reliable Alibaba suppliers, using the 15-step system which I’ve used to find suppliers for my own 7-figure Amazon FBA business.

The Myth of the Alibaba Scam

And for me the biggest problem that this “Alibaba scam” myth creates is that it makes people who are new to importing too afraid to even start their research process. They have that one line repeating in their minds “Alibaba is a scam, Alibaba is a scam, Alibaba is a scam….” and that’s why, with today’s blog post, I want to clear the air once and for all. I will give you a step-by-step filtering system that you can use to spot Alibaba fraudsters and avoid 99% of scams on Alibaba and unlock the potential of one of the world’s biggest online marketplaces.

Also, we need to differentiate scams from bad suppliers. A scam is when you buy something and never receive it. Or receive a fake item. That’s a scam. A bad supplier is someone who suddenly changes an item’s price in the middle of the order, has a high defect rate in the final order, sends you poor quality goods, etc. That’s a bad supplier and unreliable supplier and someone who you should no longer consider trustworhty with respect to your expectations, but it’s hard to call it a scam, as maybe they simply can’t produce goods that are up to quality you want. That is a whole other conversation, of course, but this article is specifically focused on obvious SCAMS where the “supplier” takes your money and disappears with it.

Before we get into the actual verification and scam filtering process, let me quickly remind you that you cannot get any kind of branded items wholesale from mainland China. I’m talking about everything from electronics, video games and software to designer clothes, shoes and other similar items. If you’re looking for anything branded, China is NOT the place to go. At worst, you’ll get scammed and receive nothing. At best, you’ll receive worthless fakes.

What is a branded product?

Example of branded product not to purchase: PS4.

By branded products, I mean products that are manufactured by well-known companies, like:

  • Apple
  • Under Armour
  • Samsung
  • Nike
  • Sony
  • Lego
  • Etc.

These are brands that are well known to everyone, and even though most of their products are manufactured in China, you CAN’T buy them wholesale from Alibaba or other similar sites—you simply cannot!

Companies with manufacturing operations in China have very strict distribution policies in place, so it’s not like someone can walk out of a Foxconn factory (they do most of Apple’s products) with ten iPhones or iPads in their pockets to sell on Alibaba. It is simply not possible to buy iPhones directly from Foxconn, even though they’re the ones who manufacture them.

This is NOT how things work in China!!

All of those well-known brands only distribute their goods through official, tightly secured channels. You won’t find these products advertised on Alibaba. If you do see ads for such products, there’s a 99%+ chance that it’s a scam!

Another product type you have to be VERY careful with is licensed products. These are products that carry some sort of intellectual property on them, such as:

  • Disney cartoon characters
  • Images of famous people
  • Sports team logos
  • Olympic logos/themes
  • Video/mobile game characters (Angry Birds, Pokémon Go, etc.)
  • Automotive industry logos, trademarks (Audi, BMW, etc.)
  • And so on!

To produce products with intellectual property designs on them, a manufacturer needs a special license agreement with the IP owner and has to pay fixed or ongoing fees for each item they produce. Most suppliers in China don’t have any such agreements in place, so they basically use these designs WITHOUT the owner’s approval. This is illegal, of course, and purchasing these items can get you in a lot of trouble.

In some cases, large manufacturers will have licensing deals in place, but you should always ask for proof and try to verify it if possible. These will be very rare situations, though, so in general, I recommend you STAY AWAY from any products that involve IP designs when ordering from Alibaba and China in general.

Now, back to Alibaba. The company has actually improved its website and listings significantly in regards to counterfeit and unlicensed products. These days, it’s very hard to find any “branded” items on Alibaba as they have removed most of these listings and suspended the offending advertisers. Years ago, you could do a search for any hot selling product such as consoles, shoes etc. and get hundreds of results full of Alibaba fraudsters. I just tried a similar search and it returned ZERO results.

They now even put up a special message when you make searches like these, warning you that it’s a branded product and you need to be very careful when ordering such items from suppliers on Alibaba.

Anyway, what does any of this have to do with our original topic? Well, the number one rule for how to avoid getting scammed on Alibaba is: STAY AWAY from anything branded! You can only source unbranded goods wholesale from mainland China!

That’s what you want anyway, right? I mean, if you want to source products from China to sell on eBay or Amazon, you will want genuine manufacturers who can supply you with products you can put your brand on, provide custom packaging, etc. There’s only a very small profit in brand-new branded goods for online resellers (in most cases), so it’s not even worth considering if you want to build a profitable business.

Marketplaces are full of sellers offering branded items and because multiple people sell the exact same product, the only differentiator is the PRICE! Whoever offers the lowest price for the item makes the majority of the sales. And trust me, when your competitors deal in tax evasion, grey imports and even stolen goods, you won’t stand a chance competing with them.

Once you eliminate branded goods, you’ll see that it’s actually very difficult to get scammed on Alibaba because most “normal” product suppliers on Alibaba are genuine companies.

And that’s why this is my number one tip for how to not get scammed on Alibaba.

Plus, Alibaba offers a range of tools to help us verify the supplier, use safe payment methods and they cover the whole transaction inside Alibaba’s Trade Assurance platform.

Still, by using the following Alibaba scam-filtering system, you will quickly and efficiently filter out bad suppliers and identify the best of the best! As I said, it’s not enough to simply filter out scams, you also need to avoid bad suppliers as no one wants to deal with defective products, delayed orders, mispacked items, etc.

Without further ado, let’s get straight into the process of finding GOOD suppliers on Alibaba, which will also show you exactly how to avoid scams on Alibaba.

15-Step Alibaba
Scam-Filtering System

This whole system relies on your ability to analyse a supplier’s profile on Alibaba (and outside of it) and to know if a seller on Alibaba is legit. If this is the first time you are using Alibaba’s website, take some time to analyse a few supplier profiles. This will help give you some context for all the information I cover in this post.

Once you become more familiar with the process, you will realise that you can filter out suppliers VERY quickly just by taking a look at their profile. So, there’s a small learning curve involved, but it’s really nothing to be afraid of.

Here are the 15 KEY elements to look at when you evaluate a potential scam on Alibaba.com:

1. Gold Supplier

What is GOLD supplier status on Alibaba? It’s a premium, paid account status for suppliers and it costs several thousand dollars per year. Having this status doesn’t necessarily mean that the supplier is 100% legit, but scammers usually don’t pay for Gold supplier status because they need to change accounts very frequently and this extra cost is simply too much for them.

Scammers usually stick with FREE Alibaba accounts and simply hope that newbies are unaware of this because they don’t understand how Alibaba works.

I personally NEVER deal with any free account suppliers as the concentration of scammers is the highest within this group!

If possible, I always try to stick with Gold suppliers who have at least a three-year track record on the site. Gold supplier status is still the number one thing to look for when searching for reliable suppliers on Alibaba and to avoid scams, especially when used in conjunction with filtering out first-year and second-year suppliers.

To see if a supplier has Gold status or not, you simply go to the product page or supplier profile and look for the number, which also tells you how many years the supplier has had that Gold status. This is the same number you can see in the search results, so if you get a huge list of suppliers for the product you’re searching for, you can identify the most established suppliers right from the search results.

If you see a Gold status supplier in their sixth, seventh or eighth year, it’s a sure sign that it’s an established company. The chances of them being scammers are incredibly slim. Scammer accounts simply don’t last that long. They get caught sooner or later.

There is an Alibaba fraud scam currently going on involving Gold suppliers, though, as scammers sometimes HACK Gold status supplier accounts or buy them from companies that go out of business. This is a very smart tactic because you, as a buyer, could tick all the boxes I cover here, and it could still turn out to be a scam.

So, how can you spot these scammers? In 99% of cases, scammers will use the Gold status supplier accounts they’ve acquired to sell highly popular BRANDED goods, like PlayStations and similar. Remember, I’ve already warned you that Alibaba is NOT the place to look for such items, so if you see these types of offers, you will know immediately that it’s a scam.

Furthermore, when you start communicating with scammers, you will quickly realise that they’re full of s**t! They oversell to you SO HARD by offering incredible deals, like “Buy two PS4 consoles and get one free”. All with FREE delivery, of course. C’mon! It’s way beyond a too-good-to-be-true deal! Plus, they will only use unsecure payment methods, which we’ll cover in more detail later in this post.

2. Verified Supplier

You can select the “Verified Supplier” filter right from the search page, if you want. I don’t do this, though, as not all suppliers are verified, so if you’re dealing with a product that is not very popular, you could filter out many suppliers who could be good, even though they’re not verified.

What does verified supplier mean on Alibaba? “Verified Supplier” means that a third-party inspection company (such as SGS, Bureau Veritas, TUV SUD or others) have carried out an independent inspection of the company. They check and verify things like:

  • Company profile certification
  • Business scope certification
  • Enterprise qualification certification
  • Product R&D capability
  • Quality assurance capability
  • Aftersales service capability
  • Associated factory
  • Cooperative factory
  • Etc.

If the supplier has been verified, you will see the special verified logo on their Alibaba profile, as well as a list of things that have been verified.

Then, you can click on the individual items to get more information or access visual materials on the aspects that have been verified. This is a super powerful and easy way to see if you can trust this Alibaba supplier and if they’re who they say they are.

I have been in the business of importing goods from China for more than 15 years now and I have seen how Alibaba and suppliers on the Alibaba platform have progressed over the years. A decade ago, all we had to go by was the Gold supplier status—that’s it!

Nowadays, we get so much information, pictures, videos, certificates, verification seals, etc. It has never been easier to spot scammers because the good, genuine suppliers have nothing to hide. They know that people have “trust issues” with Alibaba, so they invest their money into Gold supplier membership, verification, panoramic images, videos and everything else!

As soon as you start researching suppliers, not only will you be able to filter OUT scammers and bad suppliers, but you will also be able to filter IN the really professional, established manufacturers from the short-lived trading companies and other middlemen.

So, please use all this additional information to your advantage. Be sure to check out all the verified documents, images, videos, certification and compare suppliers to find the most professional and reliable ones.

Ok, the next part of my filtering system is:

3. Trade Assurance

Trade Assurance is Alibaba’s own platform for placing orders and managing payments. If the supplier accepts Trade Assurance, it’s another great sign that it is a legit Alibaba seller. When orders go through Trade Assurance, IF DONE PROPERLY, you will get protection for your order and you will be able to use safer payment methods, such as a credit card.

Now, if you don’t use it properly, things can still go wrong with a Trade Assurance order, especially when there are differences in opinion about the quality of the items delivered. To minimise problems, you have to be very specific with your order, have all the item specs written down in your order, stick to the payment deadlines, etc. I won’t get into all the details in this article as I have written a separate guide on Trade Assurance here.

Just like with the Verified Supplier filter, you can select the Trade Assurance filter directly on the search page, under the Supplier Types dropdown menu:

Trade Assurance is definitely a good sign of a trustworthy supplier, but you shouldn’t automatically eliminate everyone else. Some perfectly legit suppliers on Alibaba do not use Trade Assurance. Basically, you have to look at it from the perspective of how many suppliers there are for the product you are searching for. If you get TONS of results, then it can be a good idea to only contact suppliers who accept Trade Assurance.

On the other hand, if there are only seven suppliers and three of them don’t use Trade Assurance, I would consider all seven before making any decisions.

4. Transaction History/Level

Transaction history is indicated by the small, orange diamonds next to the supplier name. These are also shown in the search results. Basically, it indicates how much in sales a supplier has done on Alibaba and, obviously, the bigger these numbers are, the better. It is a good indicator that it is a legit company with regular orders.

Of course this is fairly self explanatory – if I see a supplier on Alibaba with hundreds of thousands in sales, then it’s very unlikely they’re a scammer as after a few people complain of a scam then you can trust Alibaba to take the seller off their site.

I wouldn’t rule out any supplier simply because they have no transaction history, though, as only Trade Assurance orders are included and many companies work outside the Trade Assurance platform.

Just keep this filter in mind as an option for extra proof that you’re dealing with an established seller.

5. Ratings & Reviews

This is a relatively new feature on Alibaba, but it is highly welcomed as we can finally see what other buyers think about the supplier and their products.

It’s great that they also list which product the feedback/review was left for and the buyer’s country. I don’t know how much feedback manipulation goes on within this process, but so far it seems quite believable because the review numbers are not that high and, in most cases, they do seem quite honest to me.

It’s probably not that easy to scam the system with fake reviews as these are from genuine orders that go through Alibaba itself, so it would be a lot of hassle to game the system that way.

Anyway, I wouldn’t base any decisions on looking at the reviews alone—unless they’re very bad, of course! If they clearly indicate that the product quality is low, the supplier made mistakes with the order, etc., that’s a good reason to remove that supplier from your shortlist. As time goes by and the number of reviews increase, this will become a much more useful tool for buyers. Again, bad reviews doesn’t necessarily mean they’re an Alibaba fraudster, but it does mean you should keep looking for a reliable and safe supplier!

6. Factory Inspection

This is a SUPERB way of looking behind the curtain and seeing whether the Alibaba profile of the company matches with what they’re actually doing. One of the biggest problems that buyers encounter is separating trading companies from true manufacturers. An inspection report solves this problem as it will be OBVIOUS from the images in the report if it is a factory or trading company.

Trading companies usually don’t do these inspections at all, and if they do, all you will see is an office building or office space with chairs and desks. However, factory inspection reports will show you their manufacturing plant, the tools they use, their warehouse space, etc.

I have already written a guide on how to do Chinese supplier inspection on your own, but it’s great to see that Alibaba has implemented this into their portal and allows suppliers to do this themselves by uploading inspection reports on their profile page.

One thing to look out for on these inspection reports is the DATE of the inspection. If the report is several years old, a lot of things could have changed with the supplier. They could have moved locations or sold the business altogether. Ideally, I would want this report to be no older than one to two years at the most.

Not all suppliers will have them uploaded, so it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are not a good supplier. I have often done inspections on my own, even paying for them if the final supplier I have picked for a product meets all other requirements, offers the best prices, has great sample quality, etc. Again, you can read more about that process in my Inspection Reports blog post.

7. Certificates

Many suppliers will show off scanned certificates for their products (CE, for example), their manufacturing facility (ISO) and other parts of their business. It’s just more proof that you’re dealing with a genuine supplier.

Also, there will be some products that require specific certificates to import goods from China, so be very careful when sourcing such products and always look for companies who have those certificates on hand.

Be warned, though! There are cases where suppliers use fake certificates, so to be 100% sure, you should verify these certificates. Usually, you’ll find the company/organisation name of the certificate issuer on the certificate itself. You can then contact them and ask for verification of that certificate.

Many testing houses even have online testing facilities that allow you to check such certificates for free, instantly, like on SGS’s website, for example.

Once again this is an expense that most scammers simply won’t bother with and an easy filter to help you avoid getting scammed on Alibaba.

8. AliExpress Store

These days, more and more Alibaba companies are opening AliExpress stores where you can shop safely for small MOQs and pay securely via escrow using your credit card. If a supplier has an AliExpress store, check it out. Specifically, check out their feedback as it can tell you a lot about the product quality, how quickly the supplier dispatches goods, etc.

How do you find out if a supplier has an AliExpress store?

Simply go to the supplier’s profile, then click on “Contacts”. Usually, suppliers will put a link to their AliExpress store under the website links option—if they have one, that is.

And you can take this even further. Quite often, just to save myself some time and avoid unnecessary communication, I use a supplier’s AliExpress store to order samples. This way, you can easily check the quality of the product and, if you’re completely happy with everything, place your real wholesale order by contacting the supplier directly through Alibaba or even through AliExpress!

Yes, you can even get significant discounts when buying in true bulk on AliExpress, so if you want to stick with AliExpress and its escrow system, you can simply negotiate a deal with your supplier there. Just keep in mind that it will always be more expensive than dealing with the supplier directly, as AliExpress takes a cut in fees for each transaction.

Again, not all suppliers will have an AliExpress presence, so don’t eliminate any supplier just because they don’t have a store. True manufacturers usually don’t deal with retail customers, so they typically won’t have an AliExpress store. Often, though, they will have a sister trading company that deals with retail customers, so you can always ask the supplier whether their products can also be purchased on AliExpress or not.

In terms of filtering out any scammers, think about it from their point of view – why waste time with small orders on AliExpress? If you can only scam a few people before Alibaba shut you down then of course you’ll go for as high an order value as possible. That’s why an AliExpress store is another easy sign that you’re dealing with a reliable Alibaba supplier.

9. Live Factory Video

If a supplier has a video on their Alibaba profile, check it out! If it’s produced by Alibaba themselves, it’s a sure sign that the company is real and genuine. If not, use it to look for signs that this truly is the same company they claim to be (logo/company name on office walls, factory footage showing production of the goods they’re advertising, trade show footage, etc.).

And this also applies to the images a supplier uses in their profile and product listings. I’m always wary of suppliers who use stock images in their profile or listings. Only one thing crosses my mind: they have nothing to show!

Trading companies are usually the ones who do this. They only have a few office images, stock product images and some mysterious, blurry factory images, so you can’t really understand what is going on there.

My ideal supplier has tons of pictures showing their factory, the entrance to the factory, the reception desk with a logo on it, etc. The more images there are with the factory name or company name showing, the better! These are all great signs that you’ve found a reliable Alibaba supplier that you can trust.

10. Website

If a company owns a proper, standalone website in English, that’s another good sign that you’re dealing with a reputable company. You should also do a “Who Is” database check to find out when the domain name was registered. In this case, the older the better.

But don’t expect world-class website design here! Most Chinese supplier websites are very basic, even old-fashioned, and they load very slowly. This must be something to do with the internet connection speeds in China or their hosting, but it’s okay. In fact, it’s completely normal.

On a side note: even if a company has a decent website, I usually stick to dealing with them through Alibaba. Sometimes, there can be exceptions. For example, sometimes the sales agents on the website’s live chat are much faster to respond than those on Alibaba. This is most likely because they view a website lead as being much higher in value than an Alibaba lead, where they get lots of time wasters.

So, yes, if you need to make contact and the website has live chat, do try to use that option. But mainly this is just another indicator of a genuine long running supplier.

11. Trade Shows

Whether it’s on a company’s Alibaba profile or their website, look for trade show information.

Scammers, in general, DO NOT attend trade shows, so if you see trade shows listed for the up-coming months or past trade show information with pictures, it’s another good sign that you’re dealing with a legitimate business.

However, always try to verify this information on the official trade show website (for example, China’s biggest trade show is called Canton Fair). As you are now aware, some Alibaba fraudsters like to make things up, so you can’t blindly trust everything they say and show. Make an effort to verify all information on your own before you believe it.

12. Google Search &
Global Sources Profile

Do a quick Google search of the company’s name. Quite often, you’ll find links to their profile on other Chinese B2B websites, such as Made-in-China.com or GlobalSources.com.

If the company has a verified profile on Global Sources, the chances of them being a scam are reduced to an absolute minimum because Global Sources takes its verification process very seriously and has extremely stringent requirements for authentication.

So, depending on the number of stars that a supplier has on Global Sources, you can be sure that you’re dealing with a real company.

While you’re doing your due diligence on Google, do another search for “company name + scam”. Usually, this will pull up any forum posts or scam reports associated with that company.

13. Invoice/Bank Details

When you’re already in the negotiation process and receive your first pro-forma invoice, always check the company name, address and bank details. It should be exactly the same as on their Alibaba profile.

NEVER send money to a personal bank account! This is the most common scam played out on Alibaba: the supplier will tell you that they’re having a problem with their business account and will ask you to please send the money to their boss’s account. NEVER do that! Money that goes to a personal bank account is usually money down the drain.

Scammers will also often try to use different companies for receiving money. If the company name on the invoice is different to what you’re dealing with on Alibaba, be very careful. It could be that they have a legitimate sister trading company set up for dealing with international clients, but you definitely need to ask questions and get answers that 100% confirm what they’re saying.

14. Payment Options

If the only payment methods a supplier accepts are Western Union and MoneyGram, run away! I would never even consider dealing with such a supplier. While not all suppliers in China will accept PayPal or use the platform’s Trade Assurance, a bank transfer to a company’s account should be a default payment method that is always available to use.

If they also accept Trade Assurance, a letter of credit or PayPal, even better! But never use a supplier if the only payment options are Western Union or MoneyGram!

The only time that I’m happy to use Western Union is when paying for samples, and that’s only because it’s quicker and cheaper to send small amounts via WU than to do a bank transfer. But even then, I’m also prepared to lose that money if everything goes wrong (I’m talking about small amounts here, always less than $100, usually less than $50).

Nowadays, however, there are very cheap ways to pay for samples and get mid-market exchange rates without going near Western Union or MoneyGram.

With companies like Wise,​ your money is always converted at the mid-market exchange rate, making them u​p to eight times cheaper than banks​ when paying international invoices.

Setting up the payment is simple, too. You sign up for a free account, set up your transfer by entering your supplier’s bank account information, state what currency you’d like to pay them in, and then fund your transfer. The funding options include bank transfer and debit/credit card. Your supplier won’t need to do anything. For them, it’s just like receiving cash into their bank account.

With over five million customers and co-founded by the first employee of Skype, you can be assured that your money is sent securely. However, just like with a normal wire transfer, your money is not protected if your supplier turns out to be fraudulent, so it’s best used when you’re paying a supplier you trust.

You can find out more about TransferWise in my post ​here.​

15. Product Selection

The last filter on my list is product selection. By that, I mean the types of products the supplier has listed on their Alibaba profile.

For scammers, the strategy is simple: they have a limited time to use the account before it gets banned, so they will try to list all kinds of unrelated but very popular products to lure people in quickly. They know that they can’t use brand names in their listing texts and titles (because Alibaba filters them out), but they can still do it by uploading images of branded goods, which are much harder to spot.

It’s not uncommon to see a scammer profile on Alibaba that sells iPhones, Nike’s and PlayStations all under one roof. Again, you already know by now that branded goods on Alibaba mean it’s a 100% SCAM! But you still have to be cautious and do your due diligence, even when you’re searching for unbranded goods.

True manufacturers will usually offer one type of product, cover one product group, or deal with groups of similar products. They won’t offer socks along with electronics. Yes, there are trading companies who do this, and they can be totally legit, but our goal (in most situations) is to find product manufacturers, not trading companies. So, I would recommend staying away from profiles that have all kinds of unrelated products listed.

Another reason to be cautious is that a genuine Alibaba supplier profile could have been hacked. For example, consider a profile that sells gardening hose products. A scammer hacks it and lists a few highly popular products that are in the household goods category (say, TVs and other related products). For them, it’s an easy way to lure people in. They’re using a legit profile, so they can ask for payment via Western Union, MoneyGram or a personal bank account and scam the buyer while hiding behind a legitimate business.

So as a final filter always take a look at what other products the supplier is offering on Alibaba and use that to spot any potential scams.

These situations are very rare, though. If you avoid branded goods and follow my 15-step filter process, the chances of you getting scammed are down to almost zero.

Conclusion

So, how do you feel now about getting scammed on Alibaba? Is Alibaba safe?

After reading through all of the steps in this blog post, I’m sure you’ve come to realise that it’s the people who don’t investigate suppliers or who don’t know much about the platform who get scammed on Alibaba. I mean, we have so many tools and so much information at our disposal.

You have to be very greedy and avoid every red flag and common-sense warning to fall for those scams.

Just stick with this guide and you will avoid 99.99% of scams. There are, of course, many smaller filters you could also use, like watermarked pictures. If a supplier has their own watermarked pictures on their Alibaba product showcase, it’s another good sign that they are a legit supplier because scammers usually don’t have the time or resources to get unique product pictures.

You also have to consider the communication style and how aggressively the supplier is offering incredible deals (offers like: Buy 2, get 3, FREE shipping, etc., which are all clear signs of a scam!). In short, use common sense! If it looks too good to be true, it definitely is!

Sure, you can get unlucky. No one is protected 100% and risk is part of any business, but in general, you’ll stay safe and avoid scams on Alibaba if you follow the advice in this blog post.

Let me quickly remind you once again that there is a difference between getting scammed on Alibaba AND simply getting a bad supplier with low-quality stock or a supplier who is lazy, unresponsive and doesn’t want to hear about your problems after the sale is made. There are good and bad suppliers everywhere, be it China, the UK, Argentina or anywhere else!

That’s why you should always start with a sample order, just to test the product quality and the supplier’s reliability. If you’re happy with the sample order, then you can place your first real order. I recommend you keep your first order to a relatively small amount and increase it gradually. Why? Suppliers often send out a perfect sample. If you place a massive first order and they send you a lower quality product, you’re stuck with a lot of it.

Ideally, you would do a factory inspection before you place your real order if an inspection report is not already available on the supplier’s profile page. This way, you can verify that the supplier is actually what they appear to be and reduce the chances of you getting scammed.

Verification is also important if you want to deal with manufacturers ONLY, as many trading companies advertise themselves as manufacturers when they’re actually just a middleman and don’t have any manufacturing facilities. An inspection report will reveal the truth!

Well, that’s it for today. I really hope you enjoyed my “review of Alibaba” and that this helps you to stay out of trouble and avoid scams on Alibaba! As I said, there are not that many scammers left on the platform at all, but if you avoid branded goods and follow my 15-step process for how to avoid scams on Alibaba, your chances of getting scammed are reduced to an absolute minimum.

To educate yourself more on this topic, please check out my TOP 10 Scams on Alibaba article to familiarise yourself with the telltale behaviours of a typical scammer, which will teach you how to spot scams on Alibaba from a mile off!

If you have any questions, I’m here to help! Please leave your comments below the post and I will personally answer them within 24 hours, Mon-Fri. I’m happy to share my knowledge and 15+ years of experience with anyone who is new to this process and needs help.

Lastly, if you would like to learn more about importing products and building an Amazon FBA business using your own branded goods, check out my Amazon Sharks program:

It’s got 20+ hours of video lessons on how to start a successful Amazon FBA business that take you from A to Z. Branding, importing from China and everything else you need to know is covered in great detail in the course. You will also get my personal support, various bonuses and free updates for life. So definitely check it out here.

Good luck with your importing and stay 100% SCAM-free! 🙂


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1,513 Comments
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  1. Hey, should I buy harddrives of companies like seagate or WD on Alibaba? I am thinking of expanding my NAS setup.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      No, you shouldn’t. You’ll get scammed or receive fakes.

  2. Hello Andrew – I ordered two Electric Mountain Bikes for about USD6,000 via Alibaba a year ago by TT (they refused to accept PayPal or Credit Cards). Both bikes had an intermittent power issue which became increasingly worse, rendering them virtually useless. After being jerked around by the seller for six months I raised a Dispute with Alibaba which was rejected because the seller’s Two-year Warranty only specified the bike frame & motor, not the battery. Neither of the bikes has done 100 miles. Diagnostic reports (here in Australia) specify ‘cheap faulty batteries’ (USD600 each to replace.) The facts are irrefutable. How can I get a refund or, at least, the cost of new batteries? Your help will be greatly appreciated, thanks.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Marcus,

      Thanks for your comment and I’m sorry to hear you lost so much money.

      Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do – you will not get a refund unless you maybe involve the police, but then again, I don’t know how long, how expensive or complex that would be. The best advice is to try to communicate with the seller and ask them to replace the batteries. If you can get that done, that would be a huge win already.

      Alibaba is really not the place to buy retail goods, especially such expensive, complex electronics items.

      Andrew

      1. Bright k t

        I am trying to source suppliers for biscuits and beverages. What I have noticed is that some companies have very wack Alibaba profiles but their websites are topnotch. How safe is it to deal with companies on their websites instead of Alibaba as most of these companies I have found are in Vietnam and indonesia. Are they any companies you can pay to do checks for you outside of china ??

  3. Dear Andrew,

    A big congratulations on this article. It is clear, plain English, and every sentence was carrying furthermore knowledge. A must-read for all thinking to start-up. Once I will find some time, I will definitely look into other materials of yours. Kind regards, Zol

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Zol & Thanks for reading my blog! 🙂

      Andrew

  4. Devin Hornbaker

    Hi Andrew,
    I’m currently talking to a supplier about getting some Nikon cameras. From what I gathered from your article it’s not possible for them to sell Nikon. This seller is a three year good supplier, has an on-site check and has trade assurance. What raised red flags to me though is they only accept Western Union and MoneyGram. That’s when I started doing scam research. I asked this supplier how is it they can sell Nikon products on Alibaba. Their response was they paid Alibaba to sell Nikon. Is this even possible? Everything seems legit with this company as far as credentials but everything else screams scam.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Devin,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Of course, it is not possible, It’s a 100% SCAM, don’t even think about sending any money to them. They’re trying to scam you, RUN!

      Andrew

  5. Hi,

    This article was a great read!

    I am in the stage of ordering samples and negotiating with suppliers. After receiving my recent sample from this company, i was extremely happy with its quality and material compared to other companies. However, few days later i noticed the glue hasn’t set on a small part of the product and there was a hole in the bag. It is a silicon bag to store food and small products. Should i be worried and withdraw my relationship with this problem from the sample? This company has good ratings and we have good communication external from Alibaba.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Tom,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you whatever that supplier is good or bad, based on that information. It’s your business and your decision.

      Personally, first thing I would do is, inform the supplier about this issue and see what they have to say about it – sending a defective
      sample is not a good sign, but maybe they can explain it somehow?

      In general though, samples should be perfect. If the supplier can’t send you a perfect sample, chances are they will pay even less attention
      to detail when your full order comes in.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  6. Hi I have a question regarding the alibaba. When I want to buy some products from lets say one particular seller. The seller list it for example, $0.50-$2.00 per piece. I then send an inquiry to ask for a few items from that price, but the seller response back stating a different price than the one on display and most often much much higher price. Is this one of the scam I should avoid or it is common to name the price differently than being listed when talk directly to the seller? Thank You

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Lili,

      Thanks for your comment.

      No, it doesn’t mean it’s a scam. Sellers very often publish lower prices on the product page to get people interested in their offers. Only when you contact them you can find out the real price, which always is closely linked to the quantity you order.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  7. Great article and very logical points you’ve made – thanks!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks Tom! 😉

  8. Marcelino T. De Peralta Jr.

    Hi Andrew,
    This was a really detailed blog.
    Thank you for sharing!
    I am currently building my one product brand, and I want it to be the best quality it could.
    I plan to do local shipping later on, but as of now, I have to do international shipping from China to learn my target market, which means that my supplier will also do the fulfillment.
    The product I have is a handmade product.
    How do I make sure that my supplier will be sending good quality products to my customers?, even though I ordered the first few samples.
    Because they could easily make the next orders cheap and I won’t want that.
    If I do however hire an inspector to inspect per batch, and the inspector sees that there are many pieces that doesn’t pass my standards, would it be practical to let the supplier repeat the items at their cost? I do not want to break my relationship with the supplier as it is hard to find unique products like these and hard to explain everything over again.
    How would you deal with this Sr. Andrew?
    Thank you so much in advance

    Marcelino Jr.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Marcelino,

      Thanks for your comment.

      The short answer is: you can’t. You will never know/be sure about the product quality if your supplier is sending goods directly to customers.

      I personally wouldn’t do this. I would get goods sent to me first, even if it’s a small batch, and then send them to customers as orders come in. The risks are simply too high with direct from manufacturer shipping + the delivery times will be long + customers may face to pay VAT/import duty etc.

      So if you ask me, I wouldn’t do it that way.

      Andrew

  9. I have fraudulent charges on my bank account from the Alibaba website and until last week when they showed up I had never heard of this site. I have been trying for hours to get to someone who can help me with this and can’t get to that person. The online help keeps telling me I need to create an account and that is the last thing I want. I need my money back as someone went on a shopping spree using my bank account information.

    1. Hey Anrew,

      first of all thank you so much for this great article, makes the life a little it safer with great people like you.

      My Questions are:

      1. Tried to contact round about 5-10 supplier, all of them wanna talk outside alibana, not within the alibana messenger. Think all supplier wanna talk to about WhatsApp or other kind of communication plattform not under the control of alibaba are scam?

      2. Is Alibana sharing the E-Mail-Address? Why i ask, think communication about the messenger, i got a lot of spam from this kind of china people… ?

      1. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Marc,

        Thanks for your comment.

        1) No, it doesn’t mean anything really. Many suppliers on Alibaba prefer to chat using Skype/WhatsApp and other tools. This fact alone doesn’t mean that they’re scammers.

        2) No, as far as I know, they don’t share the email address. Only thing – if you tick the box when contacting supplier, which ads your request to public buying requests, then yes – you will get tons of emails/messages from spammy suppliers.

        Thanks,
        Andrew

    2. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jill,

      You should contact your bank/credit card company immediately and inform them about this. They will investigate it for you and return your money.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  10. The supplier is asking for a photo of my passport for customs clearance. Is this normal?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      No, it’s not normal. Sounds like a scam to me.

  11. Irvin Rivera

    I ordered some socks from alibaba, and now they are seize at customs due that i dont have the license to import, also I commited the big mistake of adding IP characters to the socks, is there a way I can get my refund or that alibaba answers me? I know this has been all my fault but I feel like supplier could have told me this stuff and i did a big invest on this and now im really afraid of losing all my money and goods 🙁

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Irvin,

      No, sorry – no one will refund you anything… this was your fault, sorry.

      Andrew

  12. Kenechukwu Obikwelu

    Reading this late. I ve already been scammed. Was given bitcoin or western union as means to pay. I paid and they started asking for more.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Sorry to hear that… now you will know how these scams work and hopefully in the future won’t make same mistakes.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  13. George T Kuhn

    For what it’s worth, I didn’t see this website until too late. I ordered an item (Sine Wave Inverster with UP and Charger) from a vendor, Guangzhou City PooJin Electronic Technology Co., Ltd., and they were a few days late in sending it. This vendor is an Alibaba “Trade Assurance” and “Gold Supplier.” They sent a tracking number that the shipper never showed even existed. Meantime, I am screaming via email to the vendor’s rep. He assured me it was on the way. It arrived two weeks after it was due and it was the wrong item. It was an inverster without the internal UPS and charger. I went back and forth for weeks with Alibaba submitting evidence, pcitures, etc. Once they offered a US$80 credit and keep the item. But it is not something I need. I offered further evidence, and they came back and offere $100. It’s still a rip off, so I refused the settlement. Then, a week later Alibaba said they were awaiting evidence from the vendor. Today, Alibab says the vendor presented evidence that it was not an item from them. Case closed! They provided no evidence to me of what the vendor said or showed to them.
    They just sided with their vendor. Yikes! This is how Alibaba “Trace Assurance” and “Gold Supplier” status protects you, i.e. not at all!

  14. Hi . I see tons of branded motorcycles on alibaba,like Kawasaki and Yamaha and a lot of the companies have a US address but with a Chinese company name or person. These I assume are scams or is this some other type of trade?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes Rick, they’re all 100% SCAMS!

  15. Chris Flynn

    I almost got scammed on some iPhone 11’s. I went with the logic that this is to good to be true. I noticed something that almost got me. It looks like these scammers can somehow piggy back on a legit companies name. This company I was dealing with sold car parts on Alibaba and I found them advertising iPhones. I asked them why they were selling iphones and he stated that it was a different department of the company. What i did was googled the company outside of alibaba and i could not find anything about iphones, but on Alibaba if you do a search for products the iphones would show up. They also wanted me to purchase outside of Alibaba with the whatsapp. All of this made me nervous and I did not pay. He was really pissed as they were making arrangements to pick up the money in Dominion republic and the company was in china. He told me they had branches all over the world. The moral of this story if the price is to good to be true it usually is.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for sharing this with us.

      From the sound of it, it could be that a company employee uses their Alibaba profile to run a side gig OR someone has hacked their account.

      Either way, you did the right thing. Alibaba is NOT the place to source iPhones or any other branded electronics.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  16. Hi I have purchased a food trailer from China and it arrived damaged. Now the company in China is saying I need to appraise it and all this other stuff before they give me the insurance information. Just too much of problems. What do you suggest I do? I even ask for a refund and am willing to send it back. Not sure what to do

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi There,

      Are they willing to give you a refund if you send it back? If so, go with that option.

      If not, you have no choice, but follow their instructions and fix the issue, get a partial refund or get the item fixed.

      Andrew

  17. Jackie Disley

    Hi thank you for all the information provided I am looking to buy furniture from China,after making an enquiry on Alibaba two companies asked me for my WhatsApp number to chat & send me catalogues is this normal practise?
    Kind regards
    Jackie Disley

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jackie,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, that’s perfectly normal – most of them use WhatsApp or Skype for communication.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  18. Not sure if this counts as a scam but…
    I am fully aware of the risks of ordering from AliExpress, and I have been doing it for some years without any problems. I mostly order electronic parts – boards, components, that kind of thing. These are often second hand (used), but that is not an issue for me.
    However, recently, when I have ordered items I have been given a non-existent tracking number and although after lodging a dispute and waiting a few weeks the money is returned, someone gets to sit on my money (in the 100’s of USD) for a while and to earn interest with it.
    This has only started happening recently, but it is putting me off – mostly it’s the wasting of my time I object to. The sellers I deal with have 95%+ positive feedback, but are generally large volume sellers, so a lot of money is potentially being shifted around unnecessarily and earning someone, somewhere interest.
    Is this kind of “scam” (for want of a better word) becoming more common, or have I just been unlucky?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ilya,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I haven’t heard about this specific scam, no. It could be that you just got unlucky. Or not. Hard to say…

      Andrew

  19. Hi Andrew, I need help with pretty much everything. Any chance you could help me out from finding a reliable supplier to start selling on eBay?! Thanks, Sally

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sally,

      I don’t sell on eBay anymore. I switched to Amazon in 2017.

      If you want to learn how the importing process works for Amazon, check out my Amazon Sharks program here:

      https://www.amazonsharks.com

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  20. Reading this wonderful piece, I am convinced I almost got scammed. I contacted a number of suppliers for quotations on refurbished laptops. Strangely, I had replies from suppliers I can’t identify on Alibaba. Please how could this be?
    Please is it possible to have suppliers outside China on Alibaba talk about branded products, especially used laptops? Interestingly most of these suppliers never disclosed on Alibaba that they supply new branded laptops but in their replies they did.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re wasting your time with this. Alibaba is NOT the place to look for branded or refurbished branded laptops.

      You will get scammed 100%!

      Andrew

  21. You have a wonderful, insightful article. …unfortunately I found it a bit late.

    I purchased a “Mirror Photo Booth” on Alibaba for my very small business. I was having difficulty making the credit card payment. My bank was concerned about fraud. I had the seller (China) make it into 3 invoice payments. I was able to get 2 to process (after calling my bank) but I was unable to get the 3rd payment to process and the bank stated it was not on their end. The website said failed to process, and recommended I do a bank transfer. I immediately halted what I was doing, knowing that if I did a bank transfer I would not be seeing any refund if I had any discrepancies, no recourse…

    I did go through the “Trade Assurance Link” and contacted the seller and Alibaba. Funny how they are quick to respond during the buying process and then nothing when you try to get a refund. If I am unable to make the 3rd of 3 payments they will not ship the order. I have since changed my mind and just want a refund as I no longer comfortable with this process. Should I wait for the transactions to “settle” in my account and take it up with my bank? What should I be doing?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Brandy,

      Thanks for your comment.

      You simply inform the seller that you want to cancel the order and get a refund. Tell them that if they don’t refund you, you’ll do a charge-back case via your credit card company/bank. Hopefully, the seller will cancel and refund. If not, open a dispute in Trade Assurance and hopefully Alibaba will refund. If not, do a charge-back with your bank.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  22. Hi Andrew,
    Your article has been really helpful and amazing details.
    I am trying to get some products from Alibaba for me to sell in retail.

    Samples cost about 2 or 3 times the MOQ price and to be shipped to Sri Lanka using express method, they quote between 140-180 USD. I inquired from two suppliers so far.
    Do you think this shipping cost or the sample cost is reasonable? Is that how normally things going on AliBaba?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi There,

      Thanks for your comment.

      The fact that samples cost 2 or 3 times the “normal” wholesale price is normal, yes.

      As for the shipping costs – it depends on how big and heavy the item is?

      $140 to $180 sounds quite a lot, meaning the product is quite bulky?

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  23. Thank you for the very informative article. In case of buying laser beauty treatment machine for personal use what would be your honest advice please?
    Many thanks in advance.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Katin,

      Don’t buy it from China. So many things can go wrong, you won’t have tech support, you can get scammed etc. etc.

      For such individual purchases, best to stick with a UK seller who can provide tech support and warranty (if needed).

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  24. Good morning, great article

    is still available the gold supplier filter or have they replaced it with the verified supplier filter?
    the same with Supplier Assessment, Onsite Check and Assessed Supplier filters, I can’t see any filters for them anymore?

    Please can you clear up the air about buying on alibaba 2019.

    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Joe,

      The Gold Supplier status still shows on the supplier page, but as so many suppliers are now Gold, they probably removed the filter from search page as it doesn’t change much in terms of what suppliers are shown (as most are Gold suppliers anyways).

      They often change these filters and right now we can select Verified Supplier, Trade Assurance and Ready to Ship filters.

      Andrew

  25. Alibaba Trade Assurance is a joke.
    They stand on the suppliers side, especially these Gold Suppliers who paid them “BIG MONEY”, it’s my own experience, my product is supposed to be 250 cm long but it was only 235 cm, the supplier did not even think it a problem, they told me that they “cut the raw material” 250 cm long, what a joke too, they need to fold cms on each end and sew, they cut 250 cm to make 250 cm products. When we couldn’t agree on a solution, I told them I would bring it to Alibaba, the supplier threatened me by telling me that they paid Alibaba a lot, and Alibaba would protect them.
    It’s real, even if the seller’s evidence showed that they intentionally made the product shorter, Alibaba still stood on their side. DON’T TRUST the suppliers until you have real good relationship, DO NOT TRUST Alibaba.

  26. Alibaba’s trade assurance is the biggest scam of them all! Seriously don’t waste time with them They’ll give you a round around and endless ridiculous excuses defending a lying supplier. I’ve sent all of my faulty goods to the Alibaba office in Australia

    1. I felt the same and totally agree with you, how did you deal with them?

  27. Gerald De-Wilton Holmes

    I have been looking at buying an ASIC miner, and none of the sellers offer payment
    with credit card, or bank transfer.
    Every inquiry I have sent, all want payment in crypto currency, western union Money Gram, all of which offer no protection to customer.

    They were all Rated as Gold sellers and some even show they accept payment by CC, untill you try to buy, and then it is refused.
    The Alibaba site does have Fake selling sites I have found some, operated by scammers.
    You may also notice the site also tries to load unauthorised scripts on to your device.

    If you use Alibaba, do not under any circumstances pay by crypto currency, Western Union, Money Gram, only pay with an trusted method, Pay Pal, credit card.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Alibaba is NOT the place to go if you’re looking for branded products, especially electronics.

      That’s why you only got scammers and fake product sellers asking for un-secure payment methods.

      Andrew

  28. Hi Andrew

    Great article, I find you a real asset to the ecommerce world

    I wonder if you can comment, I always follow the basic common sense things like gold seller, assessed, trade assurance as I don’t trust anyone on alibaba. so i always protect even my samples orders, I make sure all the sample quality is crystal clear

    But i have experience this new phenomenon

    BAIT AND SWITCH AND LOW QUALITY

    I get a quote for samples $3 each for a gold plated bracelet, then after the sample is made and I go back for the real order say 100 piece they double the price to $6.50, but the original 100 piece quote was $3, the seller said he did not realise how expensive it was to make from the jewellery photo even though the weight size and materials he should understand. I know he is a trading company which is not the problem. So I swallowed and placed an order 100 x $6.50 price, I always said that the bracelet must be tarnish resistant 6 month minimum

    Any way 1 week after the 3 samples sold on ebay a customer send back the bracelet saying all the gold colour had rubbed off, I mean all come off, so they did not do the special plating that was the on the sample requirements, he confirmed this back is fine

    So now my $240 sample or for 5 pieces of each of 2 different products turned out to be low grade quality. Alibaba is siding with this seller, the seller has insulted me with a 30% refund, alibaba is siding with the seller

    In the end I have wasted about 30 man hours on this scammer, he is producing low grade quality and alibaba is siding with him every time. I placed the real order for 100 pieces at $6.50 but after thinking about this quality fading and scamming I decided to cancel the bigger order, and I think I will just cut my losses and run. I just dont just these guys, they are just trying to make as much profit they can from the sample orders, they are not interested in my $100,000 a year I could spend with them on my custom products,

    WTF?

    Please give me your advice andrew, I have followed all the common sense alibaba methods but I still got scammed with quality fade, I have so many items I want to produce but I just dont trust these guys, what am I doing wrong

    Thanks

    Dan

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Dan,

      Thanks for stopping by.

      What can I say – it’s just part of this business. If everything was super simple, everyone would be doing it. Bad suppliers, un-reliable suppliers – that’s what you will deal with no matter what checks you do. I personally minimise this by staying away from high-risk items, building up orders very slowly. And I’m always ready that things can and will go wrong. As I said, this is all part of the importing business.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  29. Thank you for this information! However, I’m still a little confused. I am about to place a small first order with a 2nd year Gold Supplier with Trade Assurance and Onsite Assessment. I could not find the seller’s Citibank information, so I requested it but he asked if I could pay via PayPal instead. I don’t necessarily have a problem with paying this way, but at what point do I receive an actual order on the Alibaba system? Right now it is still showing under ‘Draft Trade Assurance Order’ and all other communication has been on the messages panel. Also, I’m assuming that since PayPal is not an approved payment method for Trade Assurance, if the company pockets my money I have no recourse. Is that correct? Does PayPal offer any protection on these types of transactions?

    Also, one of the comments said that it is much cheaper to arrange the freight myself instead of accepting free shipping from the supplier. I would appreciate your thoughts on this too.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Linda,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, PayPal is NOT supported by Alibaba Trade Assurance system so that order would be totally outside Alibaba. PayPal does offer protection though, in case you don’t receive your goods.

      As for the shipping – it depends on what type of shipping you will use – sea, air or courier?

      Read more about various shipping methods from China in this post:

      https://andrewminalto.com/courier-vs-air-sea-freight/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  30. Hi Andrew,

    Great article. But at the same time you’ve got me absolutely petrified!
    I just ordered a fair bit of product, driving range mats and netting and rubber play ground tiles. I purchased from gold suppliers via trade transfer assurance and they all have the alibaba business verification tick in the box, but all this said, reading the comments posted by other readers just sent a cold chill down my spine…
    I know you can’t give a definitive answer, but are there certain types of merchandise suppliers that are more susceptible going for a scam than others? I guess what I’m really asking, is that, is there anything to ease my mind, as I play the game of “40 day Wonder” – wondering for 40 days if the goods I ordered ever turn up…

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Pauli,

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Yes, there are product groups that attract more scammers than others and your products listed are NOT in the high-risk category.

      As for your order – did you do any inspections on the supplier or at least finished stock?

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thank you for your reply, what you say makes me feel slightly better…
        I must admit I didn’t do everything on your list, but the ones I did check, all checked out ok. I also called the number on the official website to verify the person and if I could not reach them ,I asked the person I was conversing with via Alibaba to phone me from the official company phone number. I checked them out on linkedIn and so on. As for the payment, I opted for setting it all up via trade assurance, accepting only 40% upfront and 60% of completion of production. I’m still nervous as hell. What’s this you mention about inspections? How do I set something like that up? The products are not ready yet, so I still may be able to arrange something like this .

      2. Pauli, did your range mats and netting come through as expected? If yes, would you mind sharing the name of the vendor/factory?
        I hope it all worked out for you.

      3. Andrew Minalto

        See this post about inspections:

        https://andrewminalto.com/pre-shipment-inspection/

        Thanks,
        Andrew

  31. Hello!
    When I am buying from an Alibaba seller a product with DDP shipping ( the seller really wants me to take the DDP without somehow not rising the original product price much and adding to me that DDP is somehow profitable for the freight company?) how can I be sure that the duties and VAT will be paid before the shipping and that there will not be any surprise when the package arrives that it is still me who needs to pay the taxes. Because as I read on Alibabab site the trade assurance does not apply for custom problems.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      In 90% + cases they won’t pay full taxes on DDP orders.

      They will under-value it and smuggle goods into the EU without paying full tax value.

      This is the reason why I never use DDP with Chinese suppliers.

      Andrew

  32. How do you contact Alibaba? We just place a claim on trade assurance case our total order value was over $70,000. The shipment was late and the product quality and packing were terrible. We provided a ton of evidence to Alibaba and all Alibaba sends us is emails saying to “please work it out with your supplier”. The supplier is totally uncooperative and we want Alibaba to step in. After over 3 months now Alibaba has not stepped in and now they just closed the case out of the blue with no reason and no reimbursement. Does anyone know a competent person who we can talk to at Alibaba?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Adam,

      Wow, $70,000!!!

      Did you do a pre-shipment inspection as per the Trade Assurance contract?

      Andrew

  33. David Jackson

    Good insight Thankyou.
    I note some companies dont have the gold supplier but do have the others – verified / trade assurance… is to be taken that they have established themselves and are saving a few thousand? Secondly, what do you make when the prices details etc… dont match up – such as voltages {says 600v on main display but then says 42v on description} – typo – or organ donor program candidate.
    David Jackson.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi David,

      I only recommend dealing with Gold suppliers on Alibaba but I’m not saying all other suppliers are scammers. You have to look at each supplier/situation individually.

      As for product descriptions, prices etc. – they are often inaccurate on Alibaba pages so you always want to get in touch with the supplier and double confirm everything.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  34. Hi Andrew, What kind of purchase contract do you need to use in trade assurance, do you have any templates?

    Thanks
    Tony

  35. Greetings Andrew! I’d like to ask who processes the shipping and processing through customs dept upon importation of the products? Would it be the buyer or the supplier?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      It’s the buyer, in most cases but it depends on what shipping method is used?

      As there are DDP (Delivered Duty Paid) terms for example where Customs procedure, taxes are all included in the price you pay and with these terms, the supplier will clear goods for you.

      But usually, the buyer deals with this.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  36. Hello there. I wanted to buy a portable piano from alibaba. But reading all these i am a bit scared. I live in greece. Could you please advice me on that. I’ve found two on very good price but I don’t know if I can trust them. They have photos of their factories. And certifications.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Alex,

      Do you want to buy for your own, personal use – just one unit?

      Don’t bother. Risks are too high and shipping costs will outweigh any potential savings.

      Just find the item from local/EU retailer.

      Andrew

  37. Hello,
    I met this supplier from the USA via Alibaba and I intend to buy ps4 units from him at the cost of $150 each. He is insisting payment should be completed through Western Union to his Florida address. I’d really like to hear your view on that.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Albert,

      And what do you think? 🙂

      It’s 100% SCAM!!! Don’t even think of sending him any money.

      And please stop wasting your time looking for PS4 suppliers at such ridiculously low prices – there’s NO such a thing! They are all scams.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Rendell Anonomous

        Agree, i was contacted by cmtech2014.com who claimed they could wholesale ps4 pro for $165. I sen the money for a test order of $235. It was delayed because he sent it via EMS which is crazy slow, so in an effort to speed things up i placed an order of 5 an dinstructed him to send through DHL. He sent something but it wasnt PS4a, and that order also went to a worng address. STAY AWAY FROM CMTECH2014, Sam or Xi Feng, or whatever their real names are! I learned my lesson.

  38. Donna Fountain

    So Alibaba reassurance is no reassurance. I placed a claim on an order I have not received. Through the investigation Alibaba.com agreed with me and when they went to give me my refund they are stating that the supplier does not have funds in their account. So now for me to get my refund they want the following. After you ready how many of you would supply that information

    “We have communicated with the relevant team. Your refund has not been executed because there is not enough money in the seller’s account. Considering your experience, alibaba.com must give you a refund directly, Aaccording to bank regulatory requirements,please kindly offer us the document as below,You can also reply directly to ta_cs@service.alibaba.com.
    For registered companies:
    1) A color copy of your Certificate of Incorporation, Articles of Incorporation or Business License
    2) Take a picture when you stay in your company with the company’s business license/tax certificate held in hand.
    *3) The frontal photo of the debit card(or credit card) or transaction payment proof which you made the payment for this order.
    For individuals or sole traders:
    1) A color photo of at least one of the following documents: Passport, National Identity Card, driver’s license.( chooses one of the three)
    2) Take a photo when you hold the documents in hand.Must show the full front view of the head, with the face in the middle of the photo.
    *3) The frontal photo of the debit card(or credit card) or transaction payment proof which you made the payment for this order.

    All information will be subject to the Alibaba.com Privacy Policy.

    Sincerely,
    Alibaba International Customer Service Team“

    1. Andrew Minalto

      I would do it to get my money back 🙂

      Just hide half pf credit card numbers.

      I think they have these requirements so that people are not abusing the system – e.g. someone could work with suppliers directly to scam Alibaba like this.

      Andrew

  39. Wow, very in-depth article. Thanks Andrew!

    I was wondering if you’ve had any transactions with Indian or Pakistani suppliers on Alibaba. I am getting a much better quote from them compared to the Chinese ones on Alibaba.

    But most of them are only 2 year gold suppliers with no trade assurance coverage. I checked out their company profile, they seem to be manufacturers but with small space and typically 1 supply chain. They are authenticated and verified by Alibaba and a third-party company though.

    It seems they don’t have reviews as they are just starting on Alibaba.

    One main point though, I found one of their products on amazon selling through another fba seller, I’m deciding to buy it and do a random quality check.

    What do you think, any insights?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Vince,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, often, for specific goods, India or Pakistan based suppliers offer a better deal or product altogether (Pakistan for example is well known for leather products).

      But as Trade Assurance is not offered, you have to be very careful. I recommend that you do an independent verification on the supplier you plan dealing with – right before you have negotiated everything, received samples etc. and are ready to order. And of course, try asking for PayPal as a payment method as that will give you extra protection and peace of mind.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  40. I’m a 24 year old university student and im about to place my 1st order and im a little nervous because whilst i have received samples and everything looks great the company’s profile seems a little bit dodgy to me. Can anyone take a look at this and tell me what they think?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sam,

      No one can tell you whatever the company is 100% legit and whatever your order will go through as planned. There are always risks associated with the importing business over distance and if you want to be in this business, you simply need to accept those risks.

      Obviously, I assume that you have already done the verification part on your own, got samples etc. If you need some further re-assurance, maybe you should do an inspection on them:

      https://andrewminalto.com/china-factory-inspection/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  41. I’d be grateful for any advice.
    I am a 16 year old boy and I am very new to buying from Alibaba (Aliexpress specifically). I recently purchased three lots of resin flatback pieces with characters on them that clearly resemble Disney characters, and a lot of resin flatback pieces with the Molang bunny on them from a seller who did not state the characters’ names or company names in their title or description, and have few orders or feedback on what I purchased; I also didn’t ask for proof of a lisence agreement before the purchase. I am very suspicious as I didn’t know about this whole thing before I purchased and now I’m worried I could get into trouble for ordering these items.
    It was a mistake on my part for not researching into ordering from Alibaba or into the shop more, and I still don’t know if it’s okay for me to have ordered these products.
    I may be overreacting (I have autism, etc. and it’s very hard for me to understand the severity of situations) but I just want to be safe.

    I’d be incredibly grateful for any advice on this!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sketch,

      NO, in general it is not ok to buy such items from Ali Express (Alibaba, China in general) with Disney characters on them.

      I’m almost certain that they’re not officially licensed so you’re essentially buying fakes/copies.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Sketch

        Thank you for replying,

        Could I get into trouble for ordering these? I’m really worried about it.
        And do you have any advice on what to do about it, then?

        Again, thank you, I’ll make sure to be way more careful now I’ve read about all of this.

      2. Su Wayne

        hello Sketch,

        No need to worry. You only bought a few things and you are not going to resell them for profit, you are under 18 and you could probably plead ignorance if you got pulled up over it by someone. However, now you know, so be very careful in future 🙂

  42. Its actually not funny at all. This is my story on alibaba on the 7th of july 2018. I wanted to buy play station 4 ,i contacted the supplier which we agreed, he later aaked me to pay trough western union which i did to my surprise they didnt receive the money i was asked to go back and remove the question and answer claming that WU didnt pay them for one week ,i wrote a modification Letter to WU to Release the money . He later told me to cancel it and do Bitcoin which i did. After the received the money they told me that shipping fee has increased that i hav to add to my order to justify the shipping fees which i did. They later sent me a track number which i rested my mind after 3 days he called me and asked me to pay custom fees or else they will clear my goods. I requested for My county account details which they refused to give me,i requested for the ship company contact they refused ,i rejected that . they later told mebif i am ready i should get intouch. I clicked in my track number all my details came up on the shipping compay. I have bn buyiny on alibaba paying on alibaba link n i am getting my goods. Pls something much be done .i am sad because i am a pregnant woman.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Tosin,

      I’m sorry to hear you have been scammed. Buying a Play Station on Alibaba was a very, very bad idea…

      You can’t get such branded electronics on Alibaba – they are all scams.

      You will never see your money again, nor that Play Station.

      Andrew

  43. Hi!amazing article!unfortunately i was first time dealing on alibaba and first time scam.just send the money in ,,boss account”.its any chance to recover my money?any ideea?
    thank you

    1. Andrew Minalto

      No, sorry Eduard – that money is gone for good if they scammed you.

      There’s no way to reverse such a bank transfer.

      Andrew

  44. Hi there and thanks for you blog here. It really helped me a lot. I found a company on alibaba that is 1st year gold since a couple of months and I was not sure if I should trust them. Also they had no reviews whatsoever and they said it is because you only see reviews when you sell in china. The company is actually somewhere in the EU but as they cant provide ANY other security for me I wont buy from them. I mean in the chat with the company owner he even told me I should then go an buy from china-sellers a copy if I need a trustworthy money-transaction. Rude imho! What you guys say to this? Is 1st year gold seller enough or what else can I take a look? I didnt find a homepage from them either.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      What is the product you’re after? Is it anything branded?

  45. I’m dealing with a clothing supplier that has 1yr golden supplier onsite check and advised me to use Trade Assurance. So I did I am very new to this. Should be worried I’m being scammed??

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, you should always be “worried” when dealing with suppliers on Alibaba.

  46. Apurva Rajguru

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for this great post. I am in process of vetting suppliers for my upcoming online store. I have used all the filters you mentioned. I also came across the “Business Performance” section in Company Profile. I see that for suppliers with good track record of Gold Supplier, Supplier assessment, Onsite check and even a factory video there is no information or very little information about their transactions or reviews. Is it normal on Alibaba for suppliers to not have this information posted. I got jittery about one supplier who was 11 year Gold and was very responsive but had zero reviews or transaction history posted. Just wanted to know if this is a norm?

    Thanks,
    Apurva

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, that is quite common as not all suppliers will offer/place orders via Alibaba so they may not have any transactions or reviews.

      This fact alone at least would not raise any red flags to me.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  47. I buy a large amount of goods on Alibaba for import in to Canada. Here are the three most important tips:
    1) ALWAYS use trade assurance orders and pay through the Alibaba site. Yes there are some small fee’s for this, but a little money now could save you a lot later.
    2) MAKE SURE the exact product descriptions and full quality requirements are clearly stated on the trade assurance order – not just on the invoice or in an email.
    3) ALWAYS pay for a sample and get it in your hands first before buying in bulk. Most companies will give you a free sample, you just pay the freight. It costs a little but you need to know exactly what you are getting.

    1. Sorry I forgot 1 more – there four really important things!

      For bulk orders use a freight forwarding company with an office in (or close) to your city, that speaks your language, that also has an office at the port the goods will be shipped from. DO NOT use shipping from the Alibaba MFG. It is much cheaper to do it yourself, and they will understand how to clear customs in both China and your home country. Also, if issues arise it is easier to communicate with a local company. K&N is always a good choice.

  48. Thank you that information is very helpful!!! I wish I would’ve came across this a month ago. I made a huge mistake that cost me $1,600 dealing with someone from Pakistan. No Trade Assurance, no on site check and etc.. The samples that this guy sent me were terrible! Nothing what I asked for, not the color, not the size, nothing… anyway the payment that I made was through western union, which I now know was a big mistake. He’s giving me all type of excuses why he can’t send me my money back.. The company name is I.M International, and he goes by the name Usman Ali. That company cannot produce anything on their website it’s all false! So plz people, be careful.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks for sharing this with us Mike and next time be more careful.

      Andrew

  49. Thank you for sharing this really valuable advise Andrew, I wish I had seen this earlier! I have now been trading on Alibaba for a while and wanted to share a problem I encountered. I received several samples one week, however one of the suppliers failed to place a dot in the right place on the invoice. My $10.00 sample suddenly became a $1000 product liable for import duties! My top tip would be to always check the delivery paperwork and invoice prior to signing for anything overseas!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks for sharing this with us Trevor!

      You have been extremely un-lucky with this as I have never heard of this specific situation/problem.

      Andrew

  50. Thanks for info
    I ordered 8 graphics cards and paid by cryptocurrency and if it were a scam it’s no big deal. But they wrote to me that mistakenly sent 200 cards instead but I can have them for free.
    I have from the beginning realized it’s a scam but when they suddenly wanted more money for taxes and customs.. within EU, right 😀 I told them to take it all back because I will not sign anything if something really shows up, which I doubt. Have you heard anything like this before?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Lol, sorry – that’s a very creative SCAM indeed! 🙂

      You will never see your money back, not talking about any cards.

      Alibaba is NOT the place to look for such graphics cards – you will either get scammed or receive fakes.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

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