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New Alibaba SCAMs Exposed: Tips and Tricks for 2021!

August 2, 2021 by Andrew Minalto - 1521 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.


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. Roger Llewellyn

    HI thanks for all this great information.
    What about shipment consolidation in China. I want to buy from several suppliers and have them ship in one box.

    I have one supplier who says yes they can do that but it all sounds s bit dodgy that they will take other companies product and considate for me? I have purchased from them and they do seem to be quite a large company.
    Could this just be the member of staff I speak with being helpful .. OR ??

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Roger,

      No, some companies are happy to consolidate such shipments for a small fee or even no cost at all.

      Obviously this concept comes with additional risks of goods getting lost, stolen, you getting scammed etc. so I would only do this with established, trustworthy suppliers I have been in business together for some time now (at least 3-4 orders).

      There are also mail forwarding companies in China that can do this for you, check out this guide for more info:




  2. Seller offers moneygram, WU, and bank transfer as forms of payment. How am I safe using a bank transfer?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Shawn,

      There’s no protection when you send money to supplier via bank transfer.

      Once the money is gone, it’s gone.


  3. Ron Schaefer

    Great info thanks so much. My supplier is 3 year gold supplier https://sunwin-tech.en.alibaba.com/. They have agreed to take a credit card for payment but Alibaba is blocking it for fraud even though the $9000 laser is well below my credit limit. I am reluctant to use their TT or echeck options as I liked the idea of having the extra protection of my credit card company in case there was a problem with such a large purchase. If I use their TT or echeck and the Assurance plan do you think that is good enough given that Sunwin is an established company?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ron,

      Take a look at this post describing Trade Assurance process in more detail:



  4. hi. i am goin to order some electronics from alibaba its a deal buy 2 get one free. There are their name and skype ID to contact them. now i am dealing with them on skype. i have made my order and they are asking for western union to make the payment before delivery. WHAT DO YOU SUGGEST? should i take that risk?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      And what do you think Cooper?

      RUN as fast as you can!!!

      It’s a 100% SCAM, don’t even think about sending them money.


  5. I recently placed my first order through Alibaba . I ordered a custom hair piece to match some hair that I purchased off Aliexpress. I selected a product from their list and and gave them the custom specifications that I wanted to be made. They requested I send a picture of the hair I had, that I wanted matched . I ended up sending two different pictures because they said the first one was not clear enough. They informed me that it would take 20 to 25 days to complete and they would let me know when it was ready. I had no problem with this. So they asked me to pay through western union but I wanted to pay by credit card through Alibaba and that’s what I ended up doing. The hair piece was completed in time and they contacted me to let me know . They instructed me to close the order because something about the taxes would be too high and they would send my hair piece directly through DHL. At that point I asked to see a picture of the complete product . When I received the picture I noticed it didn’t look exactly as I had hoped but I figured that maybe the picture is just not doing it justice. She had already sent the package by the time she sent the picture. When i received the package almost the next day my fears were realized. It was awful. The hair was the wrong texture . It was very coarse and almost seemed like animal hair. (ie horse yak or camel hair) they had mixed lengths of hair throughout the hair piece when i requested 30 inch hair and it did not have a silk top as in the product description. I took pictures of the hair they sent me and my hair side by side and also made a list of all the things wrong with the hair piece. I waited and no response . When they finally responded , they said it was some sort of Chinese holiday. The response was basically them defending the reason I had just paid for a hair piece I can not use at all and am very displeased with . They said I didn’t specify I wanted a silk top but it’s listed on the product description I selected . They said the different lengths in the hair are as in hair would normally be , keep in mind I ordered 30 inch hair but it looks as if the took about 25% of 30 inch hair and mixed it with 25% of 5 inch hair, 25% of 10 inch hair, and 25% 20 inch hair . Also they said in my specifications I wanted “Brazilian curly” and that’s why the hair was so tightly coiled. I went back and collected pictures of all the ” Brazilian curly” hair from their product list and none look like what I got . What I got looks like their “kinky” texture. I feel like what was the reason they would make me send pictures of my hair and the texture if they were just going to give me the wrong texture anyway based on a term ” Brazilian Curly” and my hair still doesnt look like their ” Brazilian curly” hair either. They didn’t at all try to give any resolution to the problem. I have emailed them back a few times since then and still no response. So I decided that i better try to open a dispute though trade assurance but guess what? Since she convinced me to close the order , there’s no way to open a dispute . I feel like they took advantage of me being a naive new customer by doing this. Now I’m trying to find out how I can reach trade assurance because I cant find any contact info for them. I’m also afraid that since I was told to close the order there may be nothing they can do at this point. HELP!

    This is a message they sent me about the order closing:

    “hello Anre!
    how are you?
    hope all is well wiht you.

    the frontal is already finished and ready to ship. However, we noticed that using the declaration export of alibaba “yidatong”, you will need to pay a lot of fee, i mean tax for the customs.

    So we would like to send you the frontal via DHL directly without using the declaration export of alibaba “yidatong”, then you can avoid to pay the high tax.

    we just sent a cancel order request to you on alibaba, please check and confirm it. We can give you the tracking number of DHL right away.

    Thank you very much!”

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Anre,

      Thanks for sharing your story with us.

      Unfortunately as you already closed the order on Trade Assurance, no one will help you with this order. When you close Trade Assurance agreement, you basically say that you have received the order and you’re happy with it.

      Lesson learned!


      1. I was afraid of that . They asked me to close it before I even received it . They knew what they were doing in a sneaky way. so does that not help me in any way?

      2. Andrew Minalto

        No, sorry.

        Only way you can resolve the issue is by communicating with supplier and trying to come up with some kind of agreement with them.

      3. Thanks I will be filing a complaint with Alibaba and the FTC if they don’t make this right.

      4. Andrew Minalto

        You can of course do that, but chances of it making any difference are very, very slim. I’d say less than 1% slim.

  6. Hi Andrew, I really appreciate your post it is very helpful for me , I was very hesitated to deal through Alibaba ,
    I have one question , I`m planning to import Korean beauty products (skin care , make up) and I found some Korean companies that dealing through alibaba , is it possible ?

    Thank you in advance

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Hamsa,

      Yes, that is possible.

      Just make sure they’re the manufacturer or authorised distributor to avoid fake products.


  7. Hi Andrew

    I am a starter from amazon FBA, I would to know some information about bring your goods to the US but I currently located in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Ok now I am in contact with a supplier from china on Alibaba.com but I want to know when you make an invoice on Amazon for shipping your product directly to Amazon, to you have to ask the suppliers to pay FOB, EXW and CIF price or just sent the invoice to the suppliers and the give the goods to a carrier such as UPS / DHL/FEDEX which my invoices are coming from. Just give an idea how to get my goods from the Suppliers to Amazon FBA warehouse

    Jeff Fleury

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jeff,

      Please check out this article for more information:



  8. Mike DeHart

    Hello Andrew. You have a great site here. The information is very good.

    I have a specific situation: I ordered two pumps from Modo Pump Co., Ltd. I have been working with them for over two months. The pumps have very precise specifications. They have a 2 year star (the company is only two years old), on site verification, use Alibaba Trade Assurance, are listed with Made in China, but not Global Sources. Their prices are in line with other companies but they will supply everything I want. They want 50% payment now (total order is $7,000) and the remainder upon shipment. I am pretty sure they are a trading company. I will pay 50% upon shipment but I want to pay the remaining 50% after I have inspected the goods at the logistics company in Houston, Tx. I asked them to do this-they said no – is my request unreasonable? Thanks for your help.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mike,

      No supplier will send/dispatch goods to you without receiving final payment.

      So you have to organise inspection in China – at supplier’s location, before you pay second half.


  9. Hi Andrew,

    I want to share with you a weird experience with Alibaba. I tried to buy some bracelets from a company name Yiwu Melone Jewelry Co, Ltd. But when I got ready to pay, they told me that they only receive payments through Paypal, Western Union or T/T. So they ask me to pay thought Alibaba in order to use my credit card. Once I realized the process of payment I got a message the they need some more information about my card. So I was send to an other page of Alibaba where a woman wrote to me saying that I need to send the following documents to confirm my order:
    A copy of my personal ID
    A copy of both sides of my credit card
    A copy of my bank statements
    All this to be send to security@aliexpress.com

    I didn’t send any of those documents, because that is all my personal information to send over internet.

    I really need the items I was going to buy, but this seems crazy to me.

    What should I do?

    Thank you.


    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Dany,

      Yes, AliExpress is often asking new customers to verify themselves due to large number of charge back cases people do.

      Just blank out all the important information on documents, card numbers, IDs etc. – just leave your name and address shown. This way, even if someone stoles this data, it will be useless.


  10. Thanks for this great tutorial. Wanted to buy on Alibaba but with the USA trade association going apes about fakes and counterfeits, I wanted a little reassurance. I’ve always thought, “Caveat emptor” when looking for bargains.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Susan! 🙂

  11. Láfontaine

    Hi Andrew,

    I have a major problem with the customer service at Alibaba and AliExpress.
    Have you any idea what I can do to get in touch with them as I have tried everything and I mean everything.

    My problem is this:
    I am not able to log in to my account all of a sudden. I keep getting this message: refresh or feedback???
    I can then retrieve a new password using my email address however I get the exact same message; refresh or feedback.
    I have chatted with customer service as I was going crazy.

    I have had the same password since day one but now I can not log in and it keeps saying refresh or feedback.

    I have done everything in my power to get help but no one can help me.

    Have you an advise how to get help from either Alibaba or AliExpress as it seems to be impossible to get in touch with either. I asked the service team on chat but they said that there was no possibility of calling a number or writing to an email address which I find very unprofessional.

    I look forward to your answer.

    Best regards,


    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ann,

      Have you tried using a different browser or computer to login into your account?

      As sometimes these problems are browser related.


  12. Hi Andrew,

    I am placing my very first order on Alibaba. I went through your check list and everything seemed ok until I realized the most recent email that I received from the person had a different company name at the bottom and the pay pal email he gave me to deposit money does not have the company name in it and is different than the email that he was messaging with. Is this normal? what should I do?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Martha,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I wouldn’t worry about the PayPal email address being different – most suppliers will use free/generic email accounts for PayPal, so that’s not a red flag really.

      As for different company name – simply ask them why there are two companies and see what they say?

      Sometimes there’s one company – manufacturer and other company – trading company that deals with all export orders. So again, it could be all legit but you need to find out what they say about this.


  13. Hi there Andrew,

    I just wanted to know how to make a secure payment on Alibaba from the UK if you don’t have a credit card if paypal isn’t available?As we pay in GBP and not USD, how is this converted on Alibaba? Are there any bank charges when making payments online on Alibaba?

    And finally, who calculates the import duty/vat and how is it paid?
    Many thanks if you can guide me through this!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Eamon,

      You can get protection IF you make payment via Trade Assurance. There you can select TT method which basically means sending an international wire transfer (bank transfer).

      You’ll send it in USD so the money will be converted at your bank, from £ to $. Yes, there will be a charge/fee of course for sending such international payment.

      As for VAT/import duty – once goods arrive in the UK – your shipping company (in case you use a courier like DHL, TNT, UPS etc.) will calculate taxes you need to pay and send you invoice for these taxes.


  14. Hello Andrew,

    Awesome service you provide here. Just to share a bit with some of the newer buyers here. I have successfully ordered several shipments from Alibaba and the only negative experiences I’ve had are once the quality was very poor so too cheap does not necessarily mean a bargain, if anything request samples. I bought some jewelry and handbags once and they became damaged within the week of arrival and they credited me on my next purchase but seemed reluctant to credit me without a purchase, even though I submitted the photos they requested. And typically if your orders are too small I would say you are treated less friendly. So I have had some success with Alibaba and profited but be specific about what you want down to the details e.g. percentage of cotton vs. polyester in your fabric etc. However my question to you Andrew is, does a reviews section exits on Alibaba? If so where as I can’t seem to find it.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ricky,

      Thanks for your comment.

      No, unfortunately there are no Reviews as such for suppliers on Alibaba main site.


  15. Andrew hi am new on alibaba.com and need your assistance anyway I really want to order but when I ask for the shipping price for most goods is really high some times higher than the prices of the total product am in Africa how do I get cheaper shipping price

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Janet,

      Alibaba is not a retail site where you buy one product.

      You need to buy in real wholesale/bulk quantities and use correct shipping service – in most cases SEA freight to get decent shipping cost per item.


  16. Thanks anyways, your posts are good.

  17. Hi Andrew.
    I have located my Chinese supplier but I am having difficulty locating a gateway merchant who will agree drop ship orders of human hair from China.
    Do you have any suggestions?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Lisa,

      No, sorry – I have no recommendations for that.


  18. Hi. And thanks for this article. Good to know.
    I have a question if you don’t mind. I have been looking for a product which I bought for my daughter through Groupon. It was “reduced” from about 70€ to about 40€. (I think – I can’t really remember). Her cousin liked it so I thought I would try and find a seller in China for her and also to sell it on eBay as my daughter loves it. I see sellers selling it on Alibaba really cheaply – about $3.50 which is great. But when I look on eBay for comparable prices the sellers from China are selling it at wholesale not retail price. So how can I make a profit like this? I was thinking of reselling at about 15€. It seems impossible to compete so do you have any recommendations?
    I now realise that I was ripped off so to speak! I imagine the seller on Groupon, by putting that the Recommended Retail Price was so high and they were selling it for so low it seemed such a bargain ! Next time I will do my homework!.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ann,

      You already answered your question – that price on Groupon was not real, it was inflated.

      But you also want to keep in mind that the product quality can be different too as I highly doubt that a 40 EUR Groupon item would sell on eBay for just $3.5

      The difference here is too big.


      1. Hi and thanks for your reply.
        I would like to know though how someone can buy a product on Alibaba at a certain price to try and resell on eBay if the sellers from China are selling it at the same price.
        I thought that the idea was to find something “cheap” in China and then resell for a profit but if they are selling directly, I can’t see how I could make a profit.

      2. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Ann,

        It’s a very complex question I can’t answer in a short blog comment.

        But there are many things you can do, some of which I have covered in this post:


        Also, the shipping factor is a HUGE minus for Chinese sellers, many people simply don’t want to buy from a Chinese seller due to slow shipping.

        Plus the quality issues, returns issues etc.


  19. Thank you so much for taking the time out to provude suvh helpful information. I almost got “western unioned” today before reading your article but something in my spirit told me to run and thankfull another supplier got in touch and offered payment through paypal.
    I now await the delivery of my goods.

    Have a great day


    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome! 🙂

  20. John Conner

    Hi Andrew

    Thanks for the reply

    Does Alibaba give the seller the winning side if they consider it a small mistake, even though I clearly write that condition in the Trade assurance terms?

    Can I write every small thing in the trade assurance terms?


    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi John,

      It’s very hard to tell as each and every case is different.

      I personally haven’t dealt with a situation of dispute yet, nor have my clients so I don’t really know how they play it out.


  21. John Conner

    Hi Andrew

    I contacted a factory on alibaba with 13 years of gold supplier, and for 5 months I was working out all the parts of the product so that it should be 100% good, (its a complicated product)., when it came to finalizing the deal, he tells me that it is not that factory that sells this item it is a different factory and he showed ma a link, it was a 12 year gold supplier factory, he told me he works for both of these factories part time on 1.5% commission,

    When it came to payments he said that he wants me to pay T/T, so i told him we had made up in the beginning that the payment will be paypal, so he said he meant only for the sample payment, but not for the big order, anyway we agreed on alibaba trade assurance, when i asked him if he knows the name of the person that comes up when you go to that factory on alibaba he said that he doesn’t.

    What mainly puzzles me and make things suspicious is the fact that for 5 months he didn’t tell me that it was a different factory, is this a crazy assumption?

    The question is: is this person some sort of scammer? Is trade assurance liable if there will be any problems?If it is liable does the china side usually win or the US side, for example if I claim that the goods weren’t exactly as the samples, or the packaging wasn’t exactly as we made up, or does it have to be a drastic mistake to win?can i pay with chase credit card for trade assurance? Will I have a hard time disputing the credit card payment if he doesn’t come through 100%? does it compare anything to Amex disputing policy?


    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your comment.

      It’s impossible to give you any definite answers as the situation is very specific. It could be some kind of scam or it could be all legit, hard to say. The fact that they worked with you for 5 months though tells to me that he’s legit, as scammers usually don’t have patience for doing this. And if it’s not a high risk product, nothing branded etc., it could go all well.

      Definitely use Trade Assurance and fund transaction with a credit card. If everything else fails, you can always do a charge back case with your card company and get money back that way.

      Be very specific in Trade Assurance terms – make sure you describe precisely product, quality/features/packaging etc., as much detail as possible. And ideally do a pre-shippment inspection before you pay 2nd half of the money.


  22. Hi Andrew I want to buy sharp black portable ac portable black silver from Alibaba com how do I know if they are legit or a scam I was ripped off for over three hundred dollars last year the company says that they are based in China how can you help me.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi George,

      Sorry – what exactly you want to buy? What product?


  23. Hi, do you have any experience with BAILLORD GADGETS LTD? 3yrs gold member, but accept only Western union for units or TT for bulk orders explaining they were ripped off after some fake payments from buyer via paypal. They provided also business licence and seller permit, not sure if this is scam.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      No, sorry – have never heard of them.

  24. Hi, Andrew! Thanks for this article. I’m preparing to launch an online business and have a design for a product. I have been communicating with manufacturers in China and narrowing in on a particular company. They are a gold supplier in their 5th year. They have trade assurance, supplier assessment, transaction level history of 2 1/2 diamonds, SGS, ILAC, and Intertek certifications, and a website in English. However, I can find no trade show info, no AliExpress website, no video (though plenty of pictures), and I can not find them on MadeInChina or Global Source. Payment methods listed are TT, credit card, and e-checking. I find only two reviews on their site which are both good and when I search the company name + scam, I find nothing. Do they seem legit? https://famicheer.en.alibaba.com/company_profile.html

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Heather,

      Thanks for your comment.

      You won’t always find ALL filters for all suppliers. That company looks ok to me!

      Just get some samples first and then if quality is all good, plan your real order.


    2. I should also mention that they have worked hard for my business without being overbearing, have been the most forthcoming with details, answered all of my questions, and have been the most willing to work with me on MOQ (allowing me to purchase 100 pcs. of each item rather than 300 provided my total order is above 300 pcs.). I have not shared my design yet, though.

  25. Angu Ransom

    Alibaba users should equally watch out for messages that request them to click on a link from their email box. The landing page is usually a scam page . Some people fall into scams because of greed. For example a Samsung Galaxy S4 at 5$ brand new. Is this possible?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Of course it’s not possible! 🙂

      Email/link scams are very popular – reason why you should never click on a link in an email that comes from PayPal/eBay/Amazon/Alibaba etc. Just go to the website, login and then see if there’s a message for you.


  26. Tom Winkle

    Hi, thank you for making all my worries go away. A wonderful article. I was so confused. I will print this out and share with my friends.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome! 😉

  27. Hi Andrew

    The options for me paying are TT and visa, I do not have a credit card but I have a visa debit card. Will this be OK and covered by Trade Assurance? I am going through the correct channels as the supplier has sent confirmation that it is covered because the payment request was sent by Alibaba themselves and it clearly stated this.

    Also the method of paying TT is confusing as when I click the TT tab it gives me the Citi bank details of the supplier. I have no idea where or how I make a TT payment if I wish to do so. There is no clear pointer, or am I being stupid and a VISA payment is a TT payment?

    Kind Regards


    1. Andrew Minalto

      No, VISA debit card won’t work. You need to use a VISA credit card there.

      Or alternatively use the TT (bank transfer option). IN this case you need to transfer money to that supplier’s Citi bank account – by going to your bank or by doing it via online banking.


  28. Thanks that’s great, I have just been informed I cannot use e-checking as this was just for US buyers.

    Can I ask if I pay via the Visa payment option which would be direct from my account, is that what would be called the TT method? and does that cover me with Trade Assurance?

    Big thanks again for your efforts.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      TT is bank transfer.

      VISA is when you pay using your credit card.

      Both options can be used with Trade Assurance program (plus e-checking for US only right now).


  29. Hi Andrew

    I am in the process of paying via Alibaba Trade Assurance, there are 3 parts on the ‘Add Bank Information Section’.

    They are asking for Bank Routing number (9 digits), Checking Account number, up to (17 digits) and a Federal ID Tax.

    1) I have no idea what any of these are?

    2) Also, shall I pay via TT or by e-Checking?

    3) do I use Individual account or Business account? I do not have a business account as yet.

    Thanks again for your efforts


    1. Andrew Minalto

      Those are simply bank details – account number and bank routing number.

      You can use personal bank account, that’s fine.


      1. A supplier is asking for my bank information on alibaba to give me my “money back”. So far they have been a pain in the butt, I sent them money for a product, they said that I needed to cancel it in order to send it DHL express, so I cancelled. Then they drafted up a new order, and it asked me to pay another $120 bucks, I told them I had already paid previously and I questioned why it was asking me again. They seemed confused and then said that my money will be refunded to me instead, but I had never requested a refund, just cancelled as they told me to do so. I asked for my money back and told them to refund me my money through paypal email, instead they’re asking for my bank info to deposit. This is absolutely fraud correct? Alibaba doesn’t seem to care about my fraud ticket I created too…I must be out my money 🙁

      2. Andrew Minalto

        Hi John,

        It does sound very scammy to me indeed!

        Just open a case with PayPal and get your money back that way.


  30. Hi Andrew

    I will be paying a 30% deposit to a company very soon, as apparently the prices in the new year will increase. I have heard this type of increase in China is common for new year price changes.

    I just wondered if you are familiar with this?

    Another question I have is; the company are happy to accept payment via Alibaba Trade Assurance which pleases me, Can I ask if this method of payment is a painless, straight forward and easy method to complete transactions?

    I just wanted your view before going ahead.

    Thanks again for all your efforts..


    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Arthur,

      Well price increases as such are every common, yes, so it’s nothing unusual. Of course many times suppliers use this as scare tactic to get an order from you but that’s life. You never know really for sure when it’s a genuine price increase or a marketing plot.

      Trade Assurance – I recommend you read the TA page on Alibaba to fully understand how it works etc.:


      But yes, it is the preferred payment method.


  31. Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Arthur!

  32. Hi Andrew

    I have done what I think is due diligence on a company, They attend Trade Shows, LinkedIn account, Facebook account, Alibaba Gold supplier, 8 years in business, Trade Assurance, Assessment by Alibaba employees and so on.

    Your never to sure when doing this so I wanted to give you 3 links to see what your thoughts were.

    Can you take 2 minutes to look at these and share your thoughts please?




    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Arthur,

      That company looks 100% genuine to me.


  33. Thank You very much, Andrew! All the best to You!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome! 😉

  34. Hi! I had a supplier send me only a portion of my order. They didn’t send the refund before the buyer protection ended, so I filed a dispute hours before it ended. I wasn’t sure what I was doing, so I actually ended up requesting the full amount (which is not correct). They came back with a proposal for the correct amount. Now they want me to accept the proposal. Will accepting it close the dispute? Shouldn’t I see a payment come through? I’m worried I’ll accept the proposal and not see my money come back in. Am I being too worried about this? Thanks! This is what his response was:

    for some design which are out of stock , we have told you and would like to refund you the amount $479.31 . but you open dispute for the order and ask full refund . pls check the order status and accept the new correct refund amount we revised . after you agree, alibaba will refund you money according to our agreement immediately . pls do and cooperate . thank you ! now the order is waiting you to process . thanks !

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sharon,

      No, you should be fine by doing this.

      As they can’t offer you full refund, they adjusted amount accordingly.

      You need to accept that refund.


  35. Hi Andrew

    Thanks for the advice, First of all I sent an email to the Freight company you have recommended in your comments and they have not called me at all so you may want to give them a nudge..

    You mentioned getting a pre inspection of goods before sending the second payment. Can I ask who does this, the freight forwarder or and independent inspector? I may purchase CIF so not sure who would carry that out.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Arthur,

      December is a very busy month, you may want to give them a call to speed up your quote.

      Read more about pre-shipment inspection here:



  36. AliExpress is a total scam for German buyers… I buy online a lot. After seeing that AliExpress promoted international shipping – I ordered about 30 items (from different sellers) in August 2016 to be delivered to me in Berlin, Germany. Only 3 items arrived! I was told to wait long after delivery times posted came / went – which I agreed to do extending the deadline dates or “warranty” – giving the missing items until December to show up. In December, I complained and started asking for refunds – with proof in the tracking showing the items never were even allowed in Germany and were returned to the sellers. So does AliExpress return the money for the all items I never received? No. Instead, they terminated my account so that I could no longer even be able to make a claim for refunds. They sited a policy that said nothing specifically other than accounts can be terminated on their whim / will – and I did nothing but ask for refunds for items never received – which was backed up by the tracking info on the site itself. AliExpress may not have customs issues elsewhere – but it certainly should never falsely claim they can ship to (thus sell to) German buyers. I have never experienced such a scam website before.

    1. Hello, I have ordered over 300 different items from Aliexpress this year to Austria. So far, several items have not been delivered (lost on the way) and I got immediate refund. In one case, it has turned out that the supplier has not sent the goods although has posted tracking number and changed the status to “in transit”. They have send the refund immediately before I even complained to Aliexpress. However, with purchase protection you are quite covered – the only thing needed is to maintain overview of the orders and react in time.
      @ Andrew – thanks for the great info!

      1. Andrew Minalto

        Exactly my experience/thoughts! 🙂

    2. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks for sharing this with us.

      I have ordered tons of items from Ali Express and never had any problems…

      Maybe you order something that can’t be legally sent to Germany?

      Don’t know really but sounds very weird to me that out of 30 orders you only received 3…


  37. Hi, you wrote: “Scammers DO NOT attend trade shows”

    Sorry, that is not true. They can go for the photo opportunity, without even having a stall. Maybe even actually having a stall.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Rave,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, technically you’re right – they could do it and some probably do. But it’s a very small percentage.

      But in general scammers don’t do this.


  38. Sharon Bowen

    Hi Andrew, just wanted to echo that your blog is really really useful!

    I am attempting my first Alibaba deal, for customised printing items. I have tried to follow everything you have advised. I selected a Trade Assurance Gold Supplier of 3yrs. I selected Alibaba logistics to deliver, even though their estimate cost was DOUBLED, apparently I got my volume figures wrong! But now I am feeling very apprehensive.

    My supplier, who seems to work a 20 hour day, considering the responses that I receive from her, tells me that in order for them to ship my order on time, I have to cancel my trade assurance order and set the refund to 0, as there are some delays using the Alibaba logistics service, lots of paperwork, Government rules etc. I am obviously loathed to do this as I have paid in full for the order and shipping service and feel if I cancel the trade assurance order, I am left with all the risk.

    Time is running out to get this delivery in time and I don’t know what to do.

    1. Hi Sharon,

      What did you end up doing? I’m in a similar situation and my supplier is asking to cancel my order and set the refund to 0 too.

      Time is running out for me so any info from you is much appreciated!!


    2. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sharon.

      Thanks for your comment.

      I personally haven’t used Alibaba logistics service so can’t really comment on how it works…

      I always use a freight forwarder for shipping, customs clearance procedure.

      But the fact that they ask to cancel trade assurance contract sounds alarming to me… Without trade assurance you have no protection, if you pay with bank transfer. If they take PayPal, it’s safer but still – it does sound dodgy to me. And it’s still unclear how the shipping process will be organised….


      1. Hi Andrew & Sharon,
        I am currently dealing with a dress factory that has asked me to refund my trade assurance payment in lieu of accepting a secure payment invoice from them:

        “Because we can’t do custom declare directly, so we can’t receive the payment .
        Could you please cancel the trade assurance order, and we do it by secure payment ?”

        I have ordered with dress factories in Asia for the past 4 years and was under the impression that the carrier like DHL, would handle issues like customs declarations.
        All this began after I received a paid in full confirmation email from trade assurance five days ago saying they have received my final payment. I received my photo inspection of the garment and all that is left is for the factory to ship the dress out to me.
        They kept insisting that I either cancel the trade assurance or file a dispute and wait 7-12 days for a refund and then pay then via their Alibaba secure payment.

        Keep in mind I had just talked to them about shipping the dress on time because my client was flying in for a fitting and that was why I paid them early to avoid any mishaps.

        This factory is a gold 8 year seller that meets almost all your criteria for a legit company. I am currently waiting for them to tell me if they will be able to ship the dress today or refuse to ship until I pay their way. Did I mention this is my client’s BRIDAL GOWN which was due to arrive on Friday, client flies in on Monday!

        Any comments? This sound familiar?

      2. Hi Erica,

        What did you end up doing? I’m in a similar situation and my supplier is asking me to cancel my order and set the refund to 0 too.

        Just wondering if you did receive a dress in good quality at the end?

        Many Thanks!

      3. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Erica,

        Thanks for your comment.

        To me it sounds dodgy… why did they accept Trade Assurance order in first place?

        Not sure what’s going on there and what you can do apart from communicating with them and insisting that you need item dispatched ASAP and can’t wait for any other procedures.


      4. Thanks Andrew!
        Great site:)

      5. Andrew Minalto

        You’re welcome Erica! 😉

  39. Adam Otten

    I was curious to know, if they ARE branded products, but are being shipped from other then China Mainland like for example United Kingdom. Would that be legit, or do they still need to be Unbranded? I am asking about Video Game Consoles i.e. Sony Playstation and Xbox. They just seem to good to be true with the pricing

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Adam,

      Those are usually scams of one kind or another.

      No reputable UK/USA game console distributor will have an Alibaba profile.

      Please DO NOT look for PS4 consoles on Alibaba, it won’t end well!


  40. Hi Andrew,

    I really love this post, it’s basically my bible for all things Alibaba and i’m currently taking my time finding a sportswear supplier (to be customised with our own branding) in Pakistan. It’s getting to the point where i’m probably too careful and in total it’s been a solid 2 months of looking and messaging companies but to no avail. We even had one close call where we had to pay a small fee to get our bank to return the funds after we sent payment and found negative feedback on that seller). So after finding potential scammers asking for money to be paid via Western Union/Money Gram we found a company that accepts paypal and they’re a 4 year Gold supplier. As they’re from Pakistan they’re not able to have the onsite Alibaba check. They also have a UK contact which helps put my mind at ease a bit more even if this is just a family relative of the owner. They’re also the least pushy i’ve come across, askig me to take my time to think things over. They’ve agreed to do a small sample order of items so I can get a feel for their quality but I’m still nervous (I know i’m tight)! I’d love your opionion on how they look on the face of it? They are: https://www.alibaba.com/talessma-international-suppliers.html

    PS – Can’t beleive how dedicated you are to replying to all these questions. I’d give you a medal if I can source one on Alibaba!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ben,

      Thanks for your comment & kind words.

      That supplier looks all good to me! Just get that sample order in to see quality of their products.


  41. Hi Andrew

    Thanks for the advice, just a few more points I wanted to make. You mentioned PayPal in your reply to me, re: I should use a supplier with PayPal or Trade Assurance, is PayPal a safe way to pay suppliers such a amount? I am talking £14,000? 1 2ft container.

    Also if they the supplier is genuinely doing Trade Assurance, has 7 year history, a website in English and attend trade shows in Europe. Would you say it was OK pay via there Trade Assurance? I have done a lot of research on the company and they seem very well established. They have Trade Assurance, Assessment certificate and are Gold suppliers.

    So my questions are:

    Do I use Trade Assurance to pay?
    Or PayPal?

    If so do I transfer the whole amount? – really not used to the idea of making such a big payment.

    I am sure if I get the goods and all goes well I will be looking back thinking what was the fuss about, but this is my first time and cannot make an error with such a large amount.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Arthur,

      It’s very un-likely that supplier will accept PayPal for a £14k transaction, VERY un-likely.

      You should use Trade Assurance for such large orders.

      Payment structure depends on your agreement with the supplier but usually it’s 30/70 or 50/50. First payment you make when you place the order and 2nd payment – when goods are ready for dispatch. Before sending that 2nd payment, make sure to order pre-shipment inspection so that inspector can check quality of goods.


  42. Really helpful and concise information. Much appreciated.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Salena! 🙂

  43. Gary McKinnon

    Excellent article, i’m just starting out on Amazon FBA so this was very helpful, thanks.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Gary! 🙂

  44. Hi Andrew

    Why are there so many sellers on alibaba that have the trade Assurance symbol and Status but when you contact them they tell you they are not Trade Assurance. They tell me the Trade Assurance fee they pay alibaba is too high and they also don’t get reimbursements from some kind of tax or Customs law in China. Are they doing this as a scam? Secondly when I ask them about payment methods they mention 30% TT transfer, what is the sensible and safe way that guarantees my money will be repaid if they are scammers or do not deliver what they state in the contract. TT 33% is still a risk I’m taking with 30% of my funds your help would be much appreciated.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Arthur,

      Thanks for your email.

      Yes, this is quite common. Many suppliers advertise that they accept Trade Assurance (to boost credibility) when in real life they don’t. They have to pay a fee when using Trade Assurance plus of course they’re liable in case something goes wrong with the order.

      If it’s your first importing deal, I would strongly recommend you find a supplier who takes PayPal or Trade Assurance.

      With TT payments there are no guarantees whatsoever, no protection so you only should use with suppliers you really trust, have a solid proof they’re genuine and trustworthy.


  45. Mike Rosedale

    Great article Andrew. We have been buying from China for years but still run into BAD supplier problem. Most recently, we bought high strength poly ropes from Jiuli Rope Co. Ltd.. We’ve done our due diligence by inspecting the factory and tested out a small sample batch. However, by the time we sent them a real order, they shipped us defective products that are more than 30% inferior in quality. When we try to claim a refund, they started playing bush-beating games, not returning e-mails, or answering phone calls. When we ask to speak to management, no one has the guts to even tell their names. Factories like Jiuli Rope have no conscience but believe they can always get away with innocent buyers’ money without any consequence . That’s how “made in China” gets tarnished easily. What would you recommend that we do to possibly get our compensation and make the factory take their responsibility ? Any help is greatly appreciated.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Not much I can suggest apart from trying to communicate with them this problem and trying to come up with some kind of agreement (partial refund or at least credit for next order).

      To avoid situations like these, in future, make sure you do pre-shipment inspection BEFORE you release second payment. This really is the only way to be safe you get quality products you ordered.


  46. Great article. Can you go a bit further in detail about the actual purchasing portion. I’m looking for a cheaper source of carbide end mill cutters and Alibaba has a few manufactures that “qualify” per your filters, but I’m getting lost in the inquiry/start order portion. The price per unit + MOQ on the purchase portion starts to get confusing when it lets you change prices and such. Are these negotiable? Whats a good rule of thumb when it comes to negotiating? Etc. Now, I’m not looking to buy wholesale to then turn around a resell, I’m just looking for cheaper sources for consumables.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi John,

      Almost always you can negotiate price and the MOQ.

      Please check these articles for more info:



  47. brett stimpson

    Andrew, great article and thank you for your insight. We are dealing with this company currently.www.szartworld.com
    We received samples which came out good however 6 of 10 broke due to very poor packaging.
    After assurance the packaging was changed we placed a larger order. Im curious your thought on this. They issued us a ups tracking number on Nov5th. I called UPS for an update today
    NOV 16th and they say they generated the paperwork but UPS has not received any packages yet. Our contact had told us it shipped weeks ago. is this run around common? I also find it strange they said the paperwork had it shipping from Korea? they are in China.
    thanks for any insight you have.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Brett,

      That sounds very strange to me…

      There are usually few days for tracking info to update but 11 days seems way too long, for a courier shipment.

      Maybe they gave you wrong tracking number?

      Hard to know what’s going on there really…


  48. Daniel Wang

    Hello, Andrew.

    I was wondering what items are good for buying for resale? I recently quit my job to become a retailer, but I don’t know much. I recently bought some counterfeit Pokemon Games, key organizers, and water beads. Are those good items to resell?

    Do you have any tips for me and my small business for now?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Daniel,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Selling counterfeit/fake items obviously is not a good idea!

      Check out this post dedicated to market research and finding products to sell:



  49. Hi Andrew while I agree with what you are saying you can still get scammed on Alibaba even after all of the due diligence.

    We purchased bags from Jinhua Bestcreate Art & Craft Co., Ltd


    They shipped poorly made bags which fell apart there was no option for a refund but when we asked for the opportunity to post feedback Alibaba decided to censor it. Apparently they will only post positive feedback.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, the quality of goods from China can sometimes be very low, especially if you go with the cheapest quote.

      Did you get samples first? And did you made payment via Trade Assurance?


  50. Hi Andrew,

    I highly appreciate your dedication in this post. I have read so many bad things about Alibaba that I was about to head south….

    But there is hope with your post, so thank you!

    Could you back me up though? What do you think of this seller.

    The sales manager contacted me and told me his colleague would help me out. This girl was really helpful, she even sent me a sample picture of the case with a blank page next to it and my name written with today’s date..

    I can’t seem to copy her profile URL… Maybe it’s because I am from the app.

    Well, what do you think of this company? Should I proceed?

    Thanks in advance,

    You don’t know how happy I am after finally reading a positive feedback about Alibaba hehe

    Ps: English is not my main language, so I am sorry if there are typos.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sandra,

      They look all good to me!

      They tick every box and these are not really high risk items so you should be fine.

      Start with a sample anyway of course.


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