January 14, 2015 by Andrew Minalto - 228 Comments

Top 10 Scams on Alibaba.com!

top-10-alibaba-scamsEvery second email I receive from my blog readers is about Alibaba scams! It is that serious, yes. I already debunked the myth that Alibaba itself is a scam in my Alibaba Scams EXPOSED article BUT today I want to talk specifically about the most common scammer tricks and schemes you can run into when searching for a supplier on Alibaba.com.

Remember, these don’t apply solely to Alibaba but to all popular B2B platforms that involve a large number of wholesale suppliers from China. But as Alibaba is the most popular platform, I will use examples from there.

So let’s get started!

alibaba-scam-1
Alibaba SCAM Nr.1 – Sending FAKE branded goods!

This is without a doubt the most popular scam taking place on Alibaba! The saddest thing is that most people who get fake goods from a Chinese supplier don’t even realise it until eBay takes down their listing a while later.

How does this scam work?

Basically the supplier will sell you branded goods which are just copies of real products. This usually involves products like:

  • Clothing (designer clothing)
  • Footwear (especially Nike products, Timberland)
  • Electronics (mobile phone replicas, specialised electronics like Shure microphones)
  • Disney character items (bedding sets, mugs, kid’s clothing, toys)
  • Mobile phone cases with Apple, Samsung logos
  • Sports jerseys with team logos (Manchester United, Arsenal, NBA/NHL teams etc.)
  • DVDs, Software, Blu-rays, Fitness training programs (P90X etc.)
  • Cosmetics, fragrances (Max factor, MAC, Dior etc.)
  • And many others!

This can basically be ANY product with a well known Western brand name/logo/registered trademark on it.

How to avoid this scam?

SIMPLE – DO NOT BUY ANY BRANDED GOODS from Alibaba suppliers! ANY Chinese supplier for that matter!

What is a branded product? It’s a product with a well known name on it, like:

  • Apple
  • Nike
  • Sony
  • Pioneer
  • Gucci
  • Etc.

This also includes ANY kind of band, movie character or kids’ character like:

  • Batman
  • Spiderman
  • Frozen
  • Hulk
  • One Direction
  • U2
  • Etc.

All these are also classed as branded goods as to manufacture such goods, you have to buy a LICENCE from the Intellectual Property (IP) holder and pay royalty fees. Chinese manufacturers selling such products on Alibaba HAVEN’T paid licensing fees and simply use any popular images they can find and put them on these products. These are not genuine, licensed items and you can get into serious trouble selling them online.

While it’s true that most products these days are manufactured in China, it DOESN’T mean that Chinese factories sell them directly to everyone via Alibaba and similar platforms. Far from it! Brand owners monitor the entire manufacturing process very strictly and they do not allow any of their products to be sold outside their own distribution channels.

Genuine branded goods in China are actually more expensive than they are here in the Western world due to the high taxes the Chinese government has put in place (to support local business). So contrary to popular believe, an iPhone actually costs a lot more in China than in the UK or US.

Just to clarify, by China I mean Mainland China and I am not referring to Hong Kong based suppliers here. Yes, in HK you can get genuine branded goods BUT you still have to be extremely careful as there are also many types of scams associated with HK based suppliers, which we’ll cover later on in this post.

So if you’re looking for ANY KIND of branded goods, Alibaba is NOT the place to go! You want to look for US, UK or EU based official distributors/wholesalers for such goods, NOT China.

The only exception to this rule is IF the brand itself is a Chinese brand. There are some groups of products where Chinese brands actually lead the market, for example electronic cigarettes. In niches like these, yes, you can get genuine CHINESE BRAND products from Alibaba.

But even then be very careful as guess what? YES! Chinese scammers do also copy even the Chinese brands!! So you always want to get in touch with the brand owner first and ask whether the company you’re dealing with is an authorised re-seller of their goods.

alibaba-scam-2

Alibaba SCAM Nr.2 – Selling BRANDED goods but delivering nothing!

How does this scam work?

This is a very similar scam operation to the first one we covered but with one major difference; in this case once you send your money to the supplier and you never hear from them again. Yep, that’s right – you receive NOTHING in return for your money.

How to avoid this scam?

By following the same, simple rule – DO NOT buy branded goods from suppliers listed on Alibaba.com or from any supplier based in Mainland China!

Scammers are very smart and are always on the lookout for the newest hot product coming out, so they can build an entire website ‘selling’ that product. Even when the iPhone 6 was not yet released, there were already dozens of Chinese wholesale iPhone 6 websites up and running selling it for $300-$400. Or even better – buy 5 and get one free, plus free shipping! What an amazing deal to miss out on!

On Alibaba itself it is very easy – just stick with the rule of NOT buying branded goods and you have protected yourself from these 2 most common scams. But what if you have found a website selling branded stock? Here are few simple rules to follow:

1. If it looks too good to be true, it is. iPhones for $300, MacBooks for $600 – these are typical scammer prices. They’re UNREAL! They want people to believe that they have found a superb deal while in reality it’s a very cheap scam.

2. Check the domain name in the WHO IS database. If registration shows China, you know for sure it’s a scammer’s operation.

3. Check payment methods – if credit card or PayPal is not an option AND only Western Union or Money Gram is accepted, it’s a scam.

4. Check shipping methods – if they say shipping is via EMS, it’s a scam! (As EMS is a Chinese courier company).

5. Product variety – very often scammers sell a huge number of unrelated items, all on one website. With experience you can easily spot such scammers by taking a quick look at the product categories offered. If you see products like these selling on one website with too good to be true prices, it’s a 100% definite SCAM:

  • iPhones
  • Pioneer DJ Decks
  • Designer Handbags
  • Nike Air shoes
  • MacBooks

Usually genuine wholesalers selling designer handbags won’t also deal with iPhones, so this is a clear sign that you have found a scam.

To sum it up – branded goods and China just don’t go together. Just stay away from Alibaba and Chinese suppliers altogether if you’re looking for branded goods as you have an extremely high chance of getting scammed and receiving fake goods (or none at all).

alibaba-scam-3

Alibaba SCAM Nr.3 – Unverified Alibaba profile for a UK or US company!

How does this scam work?

Chinese scammers open a FREE Alibaba profile using the details of a legitimate UK/US/EU based company. They pretend to be that legit company to sell branded goods (any goods for that matter, even unbranded) and basically just take your money and never send you anything. These free accounts are NOT verified so there’s no guarantee that you’re dealing with the company whose name is on that particular profile.

How to avoid this scam?

NEVER deal with FREE/unverified suppliers on Alibaba! Simple!

I have said this many times before, you only want to deal with Gold Suppliers on Alibaba and the more established they are, the better. I personally try to stick with 3rd year + Gold suppliers and if you manage to find a 7th or 8th year supplier then the chances of you being scammed are incredibly small, provided you follow the other rules of course.

This isn’t as common but another trick scammers try is to clone the website of a genuine company, but change the contact details and try to scam people this way. The easiest way to spot these scammers is by doing a Google search for that company’s name as usually the genuine website will show up first.

Secondly, they will usually use Gmail or another free email service. Thirdly, when it comes to paying for goods, they will only accept payment via bank transfer to some weird bank account or the same old Western Union or Money Gram only.

alibaba-scam-4

Alibaba SCAM Nr.4 – Sending money to the boss’ bank account

How does this scam work?

When it’s time to make payment for your order, your supplier informs you that there’s a problem with their bank account and asks you to send money to the boss’ account, which is of course a personal account. You may get lucky and receive your order but in most cases they will simply scam you and send nothing.

How to avoid this scam?

This scam can happen even with legit suppliers sometimes when they try to avoid taxes by funnelling money to personal bank accounts. Either way, you DON’T WANT TO DO THIS so simply never send money to a personal account!

And even if there was a slight chance they are still legitimate, if any supplier offered this to me I would instantly stop communicating with them as the likelihood of getting scammed is just too high.

alibaba-scam-5

Alibaba SCAM Nr.5 – Asking for additional payment for customs clearance

How does this scam work?

A few days after you have paid for your order, your supplier will contact you and ask for additional payment to cover customs fees. If you don’t agree to pay, they say that they can’t get the goods out of China. Quite often they may also provide you with fake courier tracking numbers that have fake information about your goods being held in customs.

How to avoid this scam?

There are no such customs fees to pay when exporting goods from China so if you receive an email like this from your supplier, you have already been scammed and can say goodbye to the money you have already paid. Just accept the loss and move on. DO NOT pay anything extra as it won’t make any difference.

Very often these scammers go even further – once you pay that first additional payment, a few days later they will come up with another excuse that requires yet more money from you. They know that you’ve been played twice by them and they’ll try to milk you for everything they can!

As I said, as sad as it is, if you get emails like these, you have already been scammed and there’s nothing you can do about it apart from accept the loss and move on, and just try to learn from what happened.

alibaba-scam-6

Alibaba SCAM Nr.6 – Selling fake DVDs, software, video games, Blu-rays

How does this scam work?

Suppliers list DVDs, software, video games and similar media products. When you receive them, you find out that they’re cheap, pirated bootleg copies, which are illegal to re-sell.

How to avoid this scam?

DO NOT buy such items from Alibaba suppliers or any Chinese supplier for that matter. You can’t get genuine DVDs, software, video games or Blu-rays from China – they will all be pirated copies, nothing else.

This also includes specialised DVDs like Baby Einstein sets, P90X training programs and similar.

Alibaba has done a good job on filtering out such items over the last few years but chances are you can still find some listed there.

And the same rule applies to any China-based websites, of which there are tons online! Just use your common sense and do the same checks we covered in Alibaba scam 2.

alibaba-scam-7

Alibaba SCAM Nr.7 – Refusing to send samples.

How does this scam work?

When you contact a supplier to ask for sample availability and they say that they don’t do samples and only deal with bulk orders.

How to avoid this scam?

While this may not be a 100% sure sign it’s a scam, I would personally stay away from any such company that doesn’t offer samples.

Getting a sample is the first thing you want to do when you have found a new supplier – just to test the quality of the product and in general verify that this supplier is the real deal and can provide you with products you’re interested in. If they don’t provide samples, something dodgy is going on and it’s really not worth taking any extra risk in situations like these!

With most legit suppliers, they will happily send you a sample of their product if you cover the shipping fee. If the product is very cheap, they often won’t even charge for the product. If the product is more expensive, they may charge a premium price on the sample + shipping, which is understandable as they don’t want retail customers to simply purchase ONE item from them at the wholesale price.

Either way, a genuine supplier will have no problem sending samples over to you and if they don’t want to, for whatever reason, look for another supplier!

alibaba-scam-8

Alibaba SCAM Nr.8 – Only accepting payment via Western Union!

How does this scam work?

When you receive the Proforma Invoice, it says Western Union under payment terms, with information on who to send money to. This is a CLEAR sign that something dodgy is going on!

How to avoid this scam?

Do not send money via Western Union to a Chinese supplier!!! Period.

When you send money via Western Union, you send money to an individual, NOT a company, so you don’t really know where your money is going to end up. It could even be that a sales person working in a legit company is trying to scam you or simply that the supplier is a scam altogether.

Either way, the only payment methods you should be using when dealing with Alibaba suppliers are:

  • PayPal (ideal)
  • Alibaba Escrow
  • Bank transfer (wire transfer) to a company bank account (not a personal one).

The only exception to this rule is when you pay for samples. For samples, if the company looks totally legit to you and you’re not dealing with high risk items, you can use WU, yes, as it’s cheaper and quicker than bank transfer.

alibaba-scam-9

Alibaba SCAM Nr.9 – Selling FAKE memory products!

How does this scam work?

A supplier sells storage products (memory cards, USB sticks and similar) for great prices but when you receive them, you find the capacity is actually much smaller than advertised. For example, you buy 64GB USB drives and receive 8GB ones instead.

How to avoid this scam?

You have to be extremely careful when buying memory products from China as this scam is very, very popular. Everyone knows that the more GBs you get in the product, the higher the price is. But not everyone checks the REAL size of these products! Often, with this scam, the first people realise what has happened is when they get negative feedback from their customers on eBay!

To minimise the risk of getting scammed in this way, here are a few rules to follow:

1) Deal only with established, 5 year + Gold Suppliers.
2) Order samples and check the memory size for each product.
3) Make your first order as small as possible, check the size for all products and only if everything is fine, increase your orders gradually.

As for testing the actual capacity/memory size – it’s not enough that you put the card/USB in your computer and see that it shows 64GB. Scammers are smarter than that – they modify the electronic chips within the product so that it shows the inflated/fake memory size when it’s plugged into your computer!

What you need to do is use specialised software to check the actual memory size OR simply attempt to transfer the maximum capacity to see if it fits or not. So for example if you have 64GB USB sticks, transfer a 63GB file to it – and yes, this would take a LOT of time so if you’re serious about buying and reselling such products, I strongly suggest you invest in some decent diagnostics software.

Lastly – the same NO BRANDED GOODS rule still applies here! Don’t buy SanDisk, Sony and similar branded memory products from China, they will all be fakes! You can only buy unbranded memory products or your own brand memory products from China.

alibaba-scam-10

Alibaba SCAM Nr.10 – Invoice made to a personal bank account.

How does this scam work?

Very similar to the boss’ bank account scam – on the proforma invoice you’ll find that the bank account you need to send money to is a personal one and not the company’s account.

How to avoid this scam?

NEVER send money to a personal bank account!

If wire transfer is the only payment method available, make sure that it’s the company’s bank account ONLY and ensure that the company’s details matches what you see on their Alibaba profile.

Sometimes it can be different though – when a manufacturer uses a sister company, registered as a Trading Company, to deal with all export orders. In such cases, you should still be able to verify this information on their Alibaba profile or company website.

Conclusions

Well there you go – The 10 Most Popular Alibaba Scams! There are of course many more, smaller scams going on, but if you learn these 10 and stick with the rules published in this guide, you’ll reduce your chances of getting scammed to an absolute minimum.

Here are some final, general guidelines to follow when dealing with suppliers on Alibaba:

1) Do your homework. Follow my Alibaba SCAMS Exposed guide to filter out only the BEST suppliers. Cross check your supplier with all 10 scams listed in this post. Communicate with them, ask as many questions as you need to, order samples first and only when you’re 100% sure that this is the real deal and a genuine company; place your first real order.

2) If it looks too good to be true, it IS! I wish more people would follow this simple rule. Too often people get distracted by these impossibly low prices and the thought of the amazing profit they’ll make clouds their judgement… and the result is they’re easy pickings for the scammers out there.

As a general rule of thumb – you WON’T see miracle low prices on Alibaba unless you’re working with massive buying power (like ordering 10,000 units of the same product). In most cases you’re looking at an ROI of 20%-50% when re-selling these imported items. Sure, there are always exceptions but IF the price offered to you is ten times lower than what that item is selling for on eBay, then that’s a clear sign that something dodgy is going on.

3) If you don’t know what you’re doing, just don’t do it, seriously. I know that we all want to be successful and we all want to make good profits BUT some people forget that it takes some time and education to make the right decisions in business. If you’re totally new to this, don’t rush things by placing orders in your first few days. Take your time and gain some experience, even if it’s just via communication with your suppliers.

4) Any business comes with some sort of risk and importing is not an exception. You can follow all the guides in the world and still get scammed. That’s the sad reality and it’s something you have to accept when doing business of any kind. So please don’t use money that you can’t afford to lose (I’m talking about loans, credit cards etc. here).

5) Make informed decisions. Do not let your emotions rule any decision! I know how tempting it may be sometimes to just go ahead with the order, even if some things don’t quite add up. Don’t do it! Stick with my guides and do not make exceptions on your own! It’s better to let a potentially good deal go, than to be sorry later on when you get scammed.

Alright, that’s it for today! I really hope this post will be valuable for many people starting an importing business. If you have any questions or want to share your personal experience when dealing with Alibaba suppliers, please leave your thoughts in the comment box below this post.

Good luck with your importing deals!

Stay alert.

Best Regards,
Andrew

228 Comments
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  1. Hello
    Must I own a registered company in my country before buying from alibaba to avoid difficulty in claiming them….

    And secondly, how authentic are goods sold at alibaba.
    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jeff,

      No, you don’t have to have a company to buy from Alibaba – individuals an also use it.

      Did you read the article? You can’t buy BRANDED goods from Alibaba, they will be fakes! There are no authentic goods on that platform if you’re looking for well known branded items.

      Andrew

  2. Hi Andrew great article.Thanks.I am looking at Ps4 and xbox one controllers.The companies say they are genuine.Do you think they are not.Thanks Graham

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Of course they’re not! It’s a scam.

      You CAN’T buy genuine branded products on Alibaba!

      You’ll either get fakes or get nothing at all.

      Andrew

      1. I should have read this before I done got scammed 800usd n telling me that I have to pay 5500 more for bill of entry good thing I didn’t pay the entry

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You’re welcome!

  3. Hello Andrew

    I’m from México and I recently started with the import business, I want to import toys, I look for sellers in the USA and I found that they want payments in Nigeria because they don’t have in Stock or things like that, only payments with Western Union or Moneygram. As you said the prices and the profits are very attractive so I done the transfer (fortunately the payment didn’t pass ) but before I sent them a photo with the pay done so they sent me a tracking number that I checked in the Website of the delivery company (roseyexpress.com)
    Since we start with the transaction I told the sellers that I wanted the shipment with DHL for security and they said me “when the package arrives DHL delivery you”
    the first page of shipments looks false, they have no privacy policies and many things are copied and pasted images, it’s supposed that the package arrives today if it’s true and I have my things
    I’m going to contact the sellers for the payment…but as I’ve seen the situation, it’s probably a scam. Thanks for the advices and sorry for my bad English 🙁

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Silvia,

      Thanks for sharing this with us.

      Of course it’s nothing but SCAM! You would NEVER see any goods if you send money to them.

      Glad that you didn’t 🙂

      Andrew

  4. Holly Queen

    Hi Andrew,

    Thank you so much for the article. I am a first time importer trying to use Alibaba to import toys. I have contacted and been in touch with several suppliers but have yet to place a trial order. I have reassessed every one I have been in contact with and dropped several based on the suggestions in this article. But I have come across a scenario with at least two or three suppliers that check all the boxes that I’m unsure about. The scenario is that they say they have trade assurance but then tell me they have a minimum of $3000 or similar (over a couple thousand) before they will use Trade Assurance for an order. Is this something I should be weary of? My orders will likely be from 1-3K starting out as I want to test them out as well as test the market for the product.

    How can I protect myself from problems with suppliers if I am planning on making smaller more frequent orders?

    p.s. – Most of the suppliers offer Letter of Credit as well – but I read this is generally not used for amounts under about $6K.

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    Holly

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Holly,

      Thanks for your comment.

      My advice would be to work with suppliers who take PayPal for smaller orders if you don’t want to risk with wire transfers.

      With PayPal you get good protection and suppliers in China know that they can’t really mess things up when PayPal is involved.

      Andrew

      1. Holly Queen

        Thank you!

  5. Hello,
    Great content! However, there are actually some suppliers that tick all the boxes, but still offer branded products. For example, this one https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/Original-Xiaomi-Scooter-Mini-2-Wheels_60659612134.html?spm=a2700.7724838.2017115.325.39f7e80chwgOeb
    Do you think this 7 years Golden Member also sells a replica?
    Would appreciate your feedback.
    Thanks,
    Jana

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jana,

      It’s very hard to say…

      Xiaomi is a Chinese brand so it could be that supplier sells genuine items but they could be fakes or scam altogether..

      I would probably do inspection on them before placing any orders.

      Andrew

  6. Hi Andrew, im planning to order remote controlled toys from alibaba. the suppliier im hoping to deal with is an assessed supplier with 1 yr gold and has the company video as well. and has 1 diamond transaction level. he is almost all the time active in chat(99% responsive) (too good to be true though) there was a button saying ”order free sample”. but when i asked for free sample he said no free samples, have to pay $25 for the sample via credit card. he offers trade assurance and many other payment methods as well. i wanted him to deliver the sample to a friend of mine in china.
    my questions are
    1) is an assessed supplier always trustworthy? how did he become an assessed supplier with one yr gold?
    2) are the payments through credit card secure for samples?
    3) is this really too good to be true?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Asu,

      1) There’s no such a thing as “ALWAYS TRUSTWORTHY” when it comes to suppliers on Alibaba, there are no 100% guarantees EVER!

      2) Yes, as safe as credit card payment can be on any website.

      3) What exactly do you mean by this?

      Here’s the thing – from the sound of it, you’re scared to pay $25 to receive a sample from a good looking supplier? If that’s the case, I really doubt you should be in the business of importing/wholesale as it involves taking risks all the time. If you can’t risk and lose $25, you should be doing something else.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  7. Hey Andrew,

    I read your post last night, and I’ve got to say that I really enjoyed reading it. It gave me a lot to think about, and there’s a lot of practical advice here. I’m looking forward to reading your other posts regarding Alibaba when once I’m done reading through the comments on this one. They make excellent case studies taken from real-world situations.

    I had the same concerns on purchasing memory cards as a material for a product I’m developing. For the reasons you listed, do you think it’s worth the time and monetary investment to find a memory card supplier on Alibaba? If so, do you think it’d be a necessary precaution to validate the true capacity of each memory card I receive from the supplier before I load files onto it for my products? I only ask because validating the memory cards would not only add a lot of time to production, but it would also be taxing on the memory card. Memory cards only get so many reads and writes before they begin to fail, and the development process requires that I read and write a lot of files to it.

    I found a supplier that provides 16GB, Class MicroSD cards in a reasonable price range: https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/OEM-TF-card-1GB-4GB-8GB_60666408590.html. I’m new to Alibaba though, so I’m naturally skeptical. Their profile seems to check out with my research: 6-year Gold Membership, 50-unit min order quantity per order (minimizes risk for initial orders), are OEM instead of claiming to be a name-brand, they offer trade assurance, free inspection, and PayPal is listed as an accepted method of payment.

    My only concerns are:
    1) The profile lists 4GB as the only capacity in a few spots (I need 16GB and 64GB)
    2) If PayPal will actually be accepted if I decide to buy

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Travis,

      Thanks for your comment.

      While dealing with memory cards is definitely tricky, you can get genuine un-branded cards from suppliers on Alibaba. To minimise risks, try looking for a well established company (10 years+), with really good profile images, videos etc. A company that SCREAMS – we’re legit! This also probably means to NOT look for cheapest prices, at least if you want to get TRUE size for each card you order.

      And then simply start with a sample order, then small trial order of say 50-100 units – do inspection in China, so that each card is tested for capacity, pay via PayPal and you should be just fine.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Alright, I’ll reach out to a few suppliers I researched last night. Thanks again for everything!

  8. Andrew,

    I’m currently in the process of purchasing my first bulk order on Alibaba. I asked my supplier if they would use Pay pal for first order. At first she said yes we can use pay pal, 50 minutes later she said we no longer accept pay pal only trade assurance. I received an order contract that only covers $1,500 of a $5,000 order for Pre Shipment coverage. I asked her to change it for the full amount and to post shipment coverage for first time order, she rejected this.

    My questions are should I be concerned with the supplier declaring only Pre-Shipment coverage and only 1/4 the amount? If something was to go wrong when I receive the order what I am covered for? Do you consider this a potential SCAM?

    Any advice would be great,

    Thanks

    Marc

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Marc,

      I personally don’t like the sound of it, no…

      Not saying they’re 100% scammers but if they’re not willing to accept full order value cover, what’s the point?

      I wouldn’t do this.

      Andrew

  9. Oliver Santesson

    Hi Andrew Minalto!
    The suppliers i’m ordering a sample from have three branded products on their shop, one from amazon store, one from italian luggage company and one from xiaomi (luggage), however they say its not for sale and only for showing that they can produce similair products, could that be true or is it a scam?
    They have 2 year gold status, paypal , normal website, a company introduction video and a third party verification. However no trade assurance.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Oliver,

      It could be true, yes.

      Hard to say of course – probably they use those products to get listings in search & new customers.

      If everything else look ok, their explanation make sense.

      Andrew

      1. Oliver Santesson

        Ok, thank you Andrew!

  10. They sell smartphone with very cheap price 350$ for Samsung s7 brand new on Alibaba. Is it a scam?
    “Am sorry we don’t have those payment (only WU or MG)
    We can make an agreement whereby we can ship the items to you first and send you tracking code via DHL and airway bill receipt also which after you get the shipping details you can make the payment that way we have made the first step and shipped the items so you make the payment so that way you can have more confidence in our company”
    What I would do, Andrew?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Lee, of course it’s a 100% SCAM! Stay away!!!!

      You can’t get S7 phones for just $350.

      Not even close that price. And not from Alibaba.

  11. If alibaba knows western union or moneygrams are scams, then why allow that form of payment

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Steve.

      They’re as unsafe as bank transfer which is the most common payment method.

      Also, there’s no way you can prohibit use of WU/MG – Alibaba can’t control what you communicate with supplier etc.

      For Trade Assurance orders obviously it’s not allowed.

      Andrew

  12. I’m having a similar issue with an Ebay Seller lotus.online. They sell smartphones at great prices. They are listed as shipped from USA, US but seemed to be shipped from Hong Kong. They have a 97.7 positive rating and I purchased a Motorola turbo 2 which was sold as brand new in sealed manufacturer’s box.
    After the purchase I started going through the actual reviews and found that a fair amount of negative reviews were regarding issues with the device. Many of the positive reviews seem generic being posted by the seller for unlock keys for devices.

    I sent an email to the seller questioning the integrity of their devices and why there is no manufacturer’s warranty and got the following response.

    “In order to control the purchase cost, we didn’t buy official warranty.
    But we provide 90 days warranty from our supplier.
    All of our phones are original and brand new ones with original box sealed and original accessories .
    If the phone has any problem within 90 days . pls email for us to change a new phone or full refund .
    Mandy”.

    Is this a scam? Are the phones safe? How do you verify if it’s a genuine product?

    Thanks!
    Nervous and lost
    Nat

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Nat,

      There are always risks of receiving fake or say refurbished phones from eBay sellers, especially ones that ship from the HK.

      If you’re not willing to take these risks, just buy from a reputable local seller or Amazon.

      Andrew

  13. This page just saved me some money and taught me a ton. I was a little suspicious about the suppliers of Yeti and now my suspicions are confirmed and I learned a lot of other things to watch out for.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Good to hear that Glen! 🙂

    2. Same here, once I laid this info on the scammer he/she ran !!!??

  14. Bwalya Kangwa

    Hi, I wanted to order something on alibaba, how do I check if one is a 5 year+ gold supplier?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      It does say how long a supplier has been Gold supplier on their profile page.

      So just check their profile page.

      This information is also shown in the search results, right next to supplier name/info.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  15. i was looking for drones on Alibaba and someone is selling DJI MAVIC PRO FLY MORE PACK for 1200 USD per piece, They retail for about 1500 USD, they have 60000+ sale transactions and 4 years gold supplier, they also accept Paypal, They specialise in selling drones, so is this a scam or real? it seems pretty legit because of their rep. Can you please tell me. it would be greatly appreciated. the company is called Skyline Toys & Gifts.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      It could be real, it could be fake.

      Very, very hard to say.

      You could contact DJI and ask if that company is an official distributor of theirs. If not, I would be very sceptical.

      Andrew

  16. Hi Andrew, I was interested in buying some Makita tools from a company in the Ukraine, they seem legit and are registered in the Ukraine and have there own website. They are a 2 year gold member on Alibaba but don’t accept trade assurance and only want paid by western union. I told the guy I would only purchase if it was through the Alibaba secure payment scheme but as I have read all of your post’s regarding Alibaba the price seems far to good to be true. They seem to manufacture in art equipment so not to sure where the manufacture of tools would fit in and also electric skateboards. The name of the company is ROSA TRADE LLC. I was wondering if you could give me some advice on this.
    Bernie.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Bernie,

      Without even taking a look – it’s a 100% SCAM!!!

      Companies who only take WU payments are usually scams and when BRANDED goods are involved, they’re scams in 100% cases.

      So don’t even waste your time.

      Andrew

  17. I done payment through Paytm ,can you please help me.
    Can I do police case.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Sorry, I can’t help you… that money is lost.

      You can of course file report with Police but very un-likely that will do anything.

      Andrew

  18. Can I do complaint against Alibaba scam. Will they do refund

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You can do that, yes, open case if payment went through Trade ASSURANCE.

  19. On Alibaba I ordered ps4 for 15000 rupees to India after giving full payment he was asking for customs 8500 rupees and after 1 day again asking for taxes& insurance 7300rupees.Is he a scammer or not.he had given me shipment tracking ID and website is “efficientloghandlers.com”.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      of course it’s a scam.

      You can’t buy branded products like PS4 consoles on Alibaba!

      You’ll never see that money again.

      Andrew

    2. Are you getting your order now?

  20. My new potential supplier has a bank account owned by a PO Box in the Virgin islands. They do not accept Alibaba Trade payments nor paypal and they have an address in Dongguan, China but they seem to produce in Honk Kong and be owned by a Taiwan company.

    They look pretty serious otherwise : they have a 13yo gold membership, a 14yo website ownership and no report of scams on google + they appear in fairs. They have also been assessed by bureau veritas and onsite checked.
    They seem like a large company, but I am still scared because of that bank account thing, and them not wanting to use alibaba trade (they say they want to avoid VTA in China because they only export).

    https://jianpins.en.alibaba.com

    Does it appear to be common to you? Should it be trusted?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      It’s really hard to say what’s going on there…

      Company profile looks very good though so maybe it’s worth making a small test order and see how it goes?

      Andrew

  21. I am looking at ordering sublimated polo shirts with my designs on.

    I am only looking at manufacturers with the following: gold suppliers, trade assurance, accepts Paypal, has 10,000 – 30,000 transaction hierarchy and a supplier assessment.

    Where I am stuck is, I am asking each manufacturer for references of previous customers and annoyingly 99% of them skip my request for a reference. Either they don’t have them or they think I am another manufacturer trying to poach their business. They flat out refuse to give me previous customer contact details.

    I don’t want to let my stubbornness get in the way of what could be a good supplier but I just don’t get why hardly anyone will give me a reference to speak to. To me it’s a huge red flag and I am yet to order a sample. I have contacted around 30 promising companies who meet my criteria and three have responded with bad references.

    I want a reference not only for due diligence but because eventually my bulk order will have to go direct to the USA where I cannot personally check the items. So I want assurance of consistent quality before I throw money at them.

    Manufacturers fail to see this from a customers point of view it seems.

    In my shoes would you wait for references? OR does finding a supplier who ticks all the right boxes minus a reference good enough?

    Great blog.

    Thanks,
    Andy

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Andy,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Very, VERY rarely companies on Alibaba will give such references. First of all – as you said, many are afraid of competitors spying/stealing their business. Secondly – it’s just confidential information, especially with OEM manufacturers where Brand owners don’t really want others to know who manufacturers products for them.

      So this is nothing unusual, in fact – it’s perfectly normal that manufacturers don’t reveal their client list.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thanks Andrew,

        I managed to get two good references so far but it’s like trying to get blood out of a stone lol.

        Thank you for your reply. I’ll be ordering more samples from some manufacturers who would not give a reference.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          No worries, you’re welcome Andy!

  22. Hello Andrew,
    I am about to make an order for like 100 piieces of a product, more specifically an ionic hair brush. The price is like wow, in the companies website gives all the features of the original product. I asked the company if we can put conditions in the contract, so if the features are not real they will refund me and they accepted.
    Do you think i can take the money back if the product is not like advertised?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      When dealing with Chinese suppliers, such contracts are basically useless – they don’t mean anything.

      So better just get few samples of the product and test them out to see if it matches advertised features.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  23. This is some really amazing advice! I was just about to purchase a PS4 for $200usd and they apparently accept Alibaba Escrow, does it sound legitimate? Have done some research and it looks like they may be. I’m from Australia.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Liam,

      Of course it’s NOT LEGIT!

      You can’t buy PS4 consoles from Alibaba and definitely NOT for $200!!!

      Andrew

      1. Thanks for that Andrew, I thought so but there was still an urge!

  24. Can i buy routers such as HUAWEI from alibaba?is it safe???i checked out the company its Gold and was given a profoma invoice which according to your article checks out ok.Name of Company is : Combasst Industry development co LTD.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      There are lots of FAKE HUAWEI products being sold on Alibaba, even from legit companies so you have to be very careful…

      If everything looks good, you could order one sample unit to check if it’s genuine or not.

      But even then – there are no guarantees that you won’t get fakes/copies in your real order.

      You’ll be much safer if you find authorised distributor for them:

      http://e.huawei.com/en/partner/find-a-partner

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  25. Thanks for the advises. So are all gold suppliers legit?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      No, all Gold suppliers are not legit.

      Please read this guide carefully.

      Andrew

  26. Hi there Andrew,

    Just curious on how do i look up reviews on the companies? Could not find any reviews on alibaba

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Olive,

      Best way to do this is to simply Google “company name + review”, which should show up any reviews, if there are any.

      Often you won’t find much info on these Alibaba companies on Google though.

      Andrew

  27. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge.. You really save me for getting scammed.
    I have researched the entire internet to check this thing out but I didn’t find such an excellent and helpful artucle.
    I’m just starting out and that Performa Invoice contains a personal account above that they won’t allow to send me a sample, not at all rejecting but they said they can’t left there machine unuse after making the sample for more than 3 days until they get the confirmation of the sample but reaching the product to me will take upto 7days. I think they probably going to scam me.
    Once again..Thank you so much Andrew.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Paona,

      Thanks for your comment & it’s great to hear you find my blog valuable! 🙂

      As for your example situation – definitely sounds like a scam to me!

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  28. Hi Andrew! Thank you for this article! It is very usefull!

    I’m planing to buy a drones “DJI Mavic Pro” & “DJI Phantom 4” The only problem is that “DJI” is very expensive brand and Company is from China.
    On Ebay you can buy it for 1000-1500$ and on Alibaba it’s 300/400/500/600/700$ and off course 1000$ and even 1500$.

    So what do you think is it worth to buy DJI products on Alibaba? Because I found the cheapest one for 300$ (5year gold) from india but they do only T/T WU & MG. https://m.alibaba.com/product/109845456/Newest-DJI-phantom-4-vision-plus.html?spm=a2706.7843299.1998817009.749.qTRMcC Looks very Dodgy, but 5years…

    On other offer 400$ They give you an option to pay by paypal, but when I asked to pay by PP the seller said that only WU or MG, Paypal is only for orders (min 5 Units), but later decided to sell one sample by WU/MG if 2 units by bank transfer and if I’ll buy 3 units then I can pay by Paypal.

    The offer is: 2 year warranty, 30days return policy, brand New, original and so on. Look like you said: too good to be true… ? But if something will be wrong I can deal with paypal, so maybe it’s worth to try?

    Thank you for your reply!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jake,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Be very, VERY careful with these! Lots of suppliers will sell fakes/copies of DJI products and some will be pure scams.

      You should simply contact DJI directly, on their website, and ask for wholesale information:

      http://www.dji.com/contact

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  29. Shah Hussain

    I got scammed for ordering 20 macbooks and I paid $400 for each. The guys told me to send money by moneygram and dont tell them the Reference number until I receive and inspect the goods as they wont be able to take money without reference number but to send then confirmation of money sent. I did that but somehow them scammers are linked with Moneygram and they gave the scammer money without a reference number. I never received my Macbooks or anything 🙁

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Sorry to hear about this, a mistake worth $8000…

      Please read all the guides on my blog to avoid such mistakes in future.

      Andrew

  30. Dear Andrew,

    Thank you so much for all your kind effort in making such informative and helpful information.

    I’ve recently searched for plastic recycle machine from Alibaba, one supplier which is 8 years gold member, have all their certificate, existency verified by alibaba as well as SGS. What makes me worry is that their machine cost around half the price of all other suppliers that quoted me.

    Heres the link to their alibaba site
    https://yazhijiang.m.en.alibaba.com

    They looks really legit to me. And welcome me to their factory for visit and pre inspection before shipment.

    What is your view :(?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Atlas,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I can’t really give any advice here as when complicated items, machinery involved, it’s not about the supplier but machine you’re buying – quality of it, functionality, after sales service etc.

      One of biggest Alibaba horror stories I hear frequently involve purchase of some kind of equipment/machinery – like in your case. People complain that they receive damaged machine, refurbished, used, with missing parts etc. etc.

      So you have to be very careful here, especially if their price is 50% of what others charge. In fact, such a low price is a clear warning that something is not right with that supplier/item they want to sell.

      I would be very careful when dealing with them. You must do factory inspection and pre-shippment inspection before you send any money. have very strict contact in place on Trade Assurance platform.

      Andrew

      1. Dear Andrew,

        Thank for for your time once again!

        Really glad I bump into this website !

        All the best.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You’re welcome!

  31. Listen to what this guy says!!
    Alibaba introduced me to a chinese company (oriemac) that dealt with waste paper recycling for my business in Sydney NSW. Once the company sent me a shoddy replica in pieces unable to work, Alibaba decided that the seller was in the right. I have lost over $19500 and cannot do a thing about it. Trade assurance means nothing. Alibaba are responsible for my loss all the way to Jack Ma.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi There,

      Did you carry out pre-shippment inspection?

      Which is a MUST with any such machinery purchase.

      Andrew

  32. I tried to purchase a ring bearing for a crane. Alibaba introduced a company that not only sent the wrong, second hand item but sided with the seller. I am now $15000 in debt. Company name is Oriemac (Qingzhou Fuhao Engineering Machinery)

  33. Thank you

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome!

  34. Thank you for the information

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Allan!

  35. “2. Check the domain name in the WHO IS database. If registration shows China, you know for sure it’s a scammer’s operation.” Wow.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, that’s in case if website sells BRANDED products Pat.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  36. Is it true that Alibaba’s trade assurance doesn’t work for phones? I was trying to order phones and the supplier said that trade assurance doesn’t work for phones.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mark,

      First time I hear about this, I don’t think it’s true, no.

      Most likely you’re trying to deal with a scammer.

      Andrew

  37. Hi Andrew,

    What’s the best method of payment for purchasing the freight for samples? I have sellers on alibaba telling me that the samples are free, we just have to pay for shipping. Cool, that’s understandable. But they only accept money from WU and I NEVER do WU regardless of how small the price may be. Just being overly cautious.

    I’ve read your post so I know you mentioned WU is an exception but is there typically other methods of payment to pay for freight when suppliers are sending samples over?

    Supplier is in China, I live in the US so freight cost was estimated $38.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Alan,

      Usually PayPal is used to pay such small amounts to cover shipping for samples.

      But as some suppliers don’t take PayPal, WU is often used too. Just like you I don’t like using WU at all but if the supplier looks very good and they can’t accept PayPal, WU is your only option.

      You could do wire transfer too of course but the fee will be very high compared to amount you send.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thanks! I’ll keep that in mind.

        Also, if they’re an “Assessed Supplier” on Alibaba then that generally means that they’re legit and has already had an inspection personally performed by whoever Alibaba sends, correct?

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Yes, that’s correct.

  38. Tim Kretschmer

    What you forgot is the following scam

    highest quality sample, even higher then requested – cheapest shit in bulk order. happens lot in fintess clothing sector

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Tim,

      Very good point, yes.

      Quality of products is whole another issue I should cover in a separate post.

      This is more about pure scams of not receiving anything at all.

      But thanks for your comment!

      Andrew

  39. Thank you very much for this post. It has helped me to understand more about scammers in Alibaba

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Aldo!

  40. Hi Andrew!
    Thank you for doing this! I am contracting with AYSE food trade ltd. the man that I am dealing with claims to be the CEO Omar Atousi.
    Is there a way for me to find out if this is real?
    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Where is that supplier located, in China?

      You can do a factory inspection on them and find out who runs the company:

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

  41. They are 7yr gold
    Accept PayPal and sample is 60 dollars arrives in 7 days my order tota is 2000 I’m just a little worried also I don’t know how the shipping works out?

  42. So I want to buy my stores customized paper bags from alibaba but I have no idea how picking up at a port works or how much they charge or process

    1. Andrew Minalto

      please contact a freight forwarding company who can explain you how this process works, how much it will cost etc. etc.

      Andrew

  43. Hello I’m currently looking for a shopping bag supplier for my clothing a stores in Dominican Republic it’s very cheap to have them made with your logo I have quotes from different companies but I’m a little worried about placing an order since my total is almost 2000 dollars also I asked for a sample and the fee is 100 dollars they said they would refunded after I place the order I don’t know what to do should I get sample and see what happens

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Marie,

      You need to verify supplier, if all looks good, proceed with samples, if they look good, then do factory inspection, if that goes well – then do the full order.

      Andrew

  44. agree with rest but first scams, If one is trying to get branded product from china, he does needs a lesson 😛

  45. Thank you Andrew
    But it’s to late for mw i got scamed a week ago they got me for $605.00
    I wanted a electric tike after they got my money by wire transfer all communication stop have not receive confirmation at all .i was heartbroken.but move on i still looking for a electric tike
    They give the fake ivoice .i have not told anyone other then my bank but there is nothing to be done .i don’t believe now that they were Alibaba.com. of did they get my info some how .but now that i have you guide i am better EDUCATED to how these people are.i believed that i did all my homework but i got an F.
    Thank you

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Tammy,

      Sorry to hear you got scammed and didn’t get my info on time.

      Luckily it’s just for $605. There are people who get scammed for thousands.

      Andrew

  46. Hello Andrew,

    Supplier ask me to pay USD 50 for the samples if I will pay through Money Gram , but if by regular wire the price come to USD 100….is is normal ?

    Thanks & Regards,

    Jack

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jack,

      Did they explain why there’s such a huge difference?

      To me it sounds dodgy…

      Andrew

      1. Hello Again,

        Thank You very much for a quick reply.

        This is what they say ;

        “The courier fee is USD 50.
        For T/T,the bank charge is USD 50.Then the total fee is USD 100.
        For Western union,the total fee is USD 50.

        T/T and western union ,which one will be convenient for you ? ”

        Is it possible that banks in China charge for incoming payments ? I have never seen sth. like that in Europe.

        Thanks,

        Jack

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Hi Jack,

          50 USD fee to accept bank transfer? Ridiculous.

          It sounds like they just want you to pay them via WU, that’s all.

          WU is going to person’s name, not business/company and probably they (for some reason) don’t want this money to go into books.

          Andrew

  47. Hi Andrew,

    I went with a supplier and they say they do not want to pay the custom clearance fees even though it was FOB . The reason is because they say they can’t use their company to export since I transferred the money to their company account in RMB instead of their USD account (which is a personal account and I refused).

    So I say fine, since is a small number (the charges was given by my forwarder, not theirs). This was after the products are already on ship. For the cargo, I have sent someone to do quality check (but not loading check).

    But now they asking if I can re-transfer the money to the personal account since they can’t close the account! This is not a problem, since balancing their account is not my problem, I can simply refuse.

    Now what I’m worried about is they have yet release their Bill of Lading (which is another scam I read from other site). I really do hope nothing goes wrong with my shipment!

    Gosh, exporting is really a non-stop thriller.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Eric,

      Yes, problems like these can happen to anyone and even with what seems like a totally legit company.

      You really need to get that Bill of Lading. If they refuse to give it, it could be a sign of some sort of scam.

      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew,

        Thanks for the reply.

        Usually, how long does it takes for them to release bill of lading and what are the procedures involved?

        It seems quite vague in this area since all the website just say “Then your supplier should release the bill of lading”.

        I was like: “huh, like how?”

  48. Hello, a gold member who has been on alibaba for 7 years want me to send 300 dollars to them via miney gram for an iphone 6 sample. Does this sound leget. I see res flags but theyve been around for 7 years. India seller btw. Not chinnese.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Brian,

      $300 for an iPhone 6?

      Are you serious?

      It’s a SCAM! You can’t get iPhones for that price and Alibaba is NOT the place to look for iPhone suppliers!

      Andrew

  49. Hi andrew,

    This is my first time using Alibaba. I plan to buy solar charge controller from Shenzhen Hehejin industrial co. Ltd. (www.Y-solar.com). In alibaba their status is 1 year gold supplier. After having communication with them, we’re making a price deal by email and whatsap then they offer the transaction made directly to them (not under alibaba anymore) payment recomend use paypal. the reason is because they can give better price when shopping directly to them due to courier cost.
    Is this common happened when we go through the supplier and they offer direct sell ? Which one is recommended (proceed through alibaba use trade insurance or directly to them)?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Najib,

      This is quite common practice but you still have to be careful, as they’re only 1st year Gold supplier.

      Def. start with sample order and see how it goes.

      As these are technical products, you want to make sure quality is there plus have to have solid agreement in place with supplier on what happens with defective items, how you deal with items under warranty.

      Andrew

      1. Thank you for your quick response,
        I will check more details about thr product warranty and try sample first.
        Regards,

  50. Hi !
    Thanks for this informative post.

    I’m new to Alibaba and I asked for 6 sample of hinges. We agreed on a price and I placed a trade assurance order, paid by credit card and the supplier validated it.

    They then sent me :
    “Please be informed that we got a problem with shipping by the way of trade assurance. So please cancel this order immediately. We will contact with you by email, and deal with you by the other way. We really hope for your comprehension. Thank you.”

    “We have a problem with the courier from alibaba. The price is so high, higher than we made for you. So we would like to use our forwarder to ship to you. We really hope for your comprehension, any inconvenience for you will be so sorry. ”

    The seller called Dongguan Shengang is a 3 years gold member.

    What should I do ?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Alexadre,

      You should probably just cancel that order and get your money back.

      Then you can arrange another sample order directly with supplier or look for other suppliers, if this one seems dodgy to you.

      Hinges is not exactly a high risk product, so it could be that they made a genuine mistake in shipping costs calculation.

      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew

        Thank you for your express answer it’s reassuring.
        I opened a dispute and will see what happens !

        Good continuation
        Alex

        1. Andrew Minalto

          no worries, you’re welcome Alex.

          1. Alexandre

            Well it looks worst and worst in my opinion. As soon as I opened a dispute they played dead. The 5 days are over now and I escalated the dispute.
            Looks like I may have to pay 200$ for a quality inspection fee (to alibaba) even if it’s not the problem (they refuse to send the product, not a quality problem).

            So wait and see.

  51. Ok I wish I had found and read this first! Here is my story. About 2 weeks ago I reached out to a company on Alibaba called Beauty Centre Inc AKA SKS Cosmetics. They are located in the UK. We had started out messaging thru Alibaba message center than I was told to email them for further business. I reached out to them via email inquiring about the price on several different brands. My total for all was $825 but was told that $800 would be accepted plus I would be receiving 55 more pieces since I purchased 330 total. I made payment of $800 to a Jimmy White which was located in the USA?? I thought that was extremely odd. After 2 days of not hearing anything I sent email to a Philip Logan who I had been dealing with asking about status. I received a reply that I needed to send additional payment of $200 per their shipping company to ensure protection coverage for my goods?? I was upset and refused but he kept telling me that it was for my own benefit and that they were sorry this happened but assured me of getting my money back by the DHL carrier. I called DHL of course was told that their carriers do not carry cash to give receivers refunds of course I already knew this. However, I sent payment anyway again to this Jimmy White person cuz I wanted my stuff and than a day after I received email with tracking for advent freight service. I checked tracking and it seemed to be legit as it hit Canada than all of a sudden it showed arrived in Greenland than next day Iceland departure held by customs. I reached out again to Philip asking what was going on and he replied that he’s so sorry but customs is demanding $650 to release my goods?!? At this point I was very upset and I told them exactly how I felt and how they are nothing but a scam and that I filed a complaint with alibaba supplying them with all supporting documentation to back my claim up. They kept saying sorry and that he would contact his boss to see what they can do. He responded back me saying his boss will pay for $350 but I need to pay the $300 and my goods will get released ASAP. Sooo their I go again sending money gram of $300 but this time to United Arab Emirates. I than checked the tracking a day later and it says released by customs in transit. I guess I would like to know Andrew is if this Advent freight is made up tracking system of some sort. I know I got jipped but I’m hoping my goods are on their way and the status I’m showing is true.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sandra,

      Thanks for sharing this with us.

      I’m very sorry but this is a classical scam – you will never see those goods or your money again…

      Costly mistake made by trusting wrong people.

      Andrew

  52. Julie Futoran-Ulsted

    Hi Andrew,

    First off, thank you so much for this article. It’s been very helpful to read; I really appreciate your insight!

    I am in need of a bit of advice. I’ve found a few companies on Alibaba that happen to be Indian ones, so I guess my first question is, does all the advice in your article apply to Indian companies as well? The product that I would like to source just doesn’t seem to be available in China, otherwise I would have tried to pursue it that way. However both of the Indian companies are Gold Star Members (one 8 years, and the other 2). I’ve done the research, so I know that the product would do well on Amazon, which is where I plan to sell it. I have been taking a private label class offered by a well known FBA private label podcaster and entrepreneur here in the U.S, who recommends only paying companies via PayPal or VISA and using Alibaba’s Escrow services. He also recommends only ever doing T/Ts with companies once trust has been fully established with them, preferably via several large transactions. So payment has been my biggest obstacle so far because all the sources I’ve found for this product only take L/C,D/A,D/P,T/T,Western Union, or MoneyGram.

    I am currently looking into finding a Sourcing Agent in order to help me source with reputable companies in India for my product that I could trust doing a T/T with, since this seems to be the most common method of payment there.
    Do you think this is a good idea or necessary? Any other thoughts or advice regarding my situation would be much appreciated.

    Best,
    Julie

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Julie,

      Thanks for your comment.

      It’s hard to give you definite answer but in general, you should be fine if they’re long established, Gold Suppliers.

      For added piece of mind, do factory inspection (you can find such service in India by doing Google search) and of course get samples first.

      As these companies can’t offer safe payment methods, it will be riskier than dealing with Chinese companies, yes, but if you can’t find those products in China, I guess you have no choice here but take that risk.

      Andrew

      1. Julie Futoran-Ulsted

        Hi Andrew,

        Thanks so much for your speedy reply!

        Doing factory inspection does take out some of the risk, thanks for this advice!

        So, I take it you don’t recommend using Sourcing Agents or Sourcing Company?

        Julie

        1. Andrew Minalto

          I don’t, no.

          At least in my experience, it has been nothing but hassle to deal with another middle man.

          Andrew

  53. Hi Andrew,

    What a lovely post for newbees. Very discriptive. I am planning to import few car DVD players from alibaba.com. I contacted few sellers on alibaba. Although i recieved very economic quotes from many suppliers but none of them are willing yo pay for the shipment. I even asked them to ship the items through china post or HK post but they said that as the item weighs more than 2 Kg, the item cannot be shipped through regular mail but just express mail. The shipping charges are almost equivalent to the actual product price. One supplier i.e Guangzhou haoye electonic technology co. Ltd. Agreed to ship the samples through aramex without any charge(free ddu). He says that the payment through alibaba.com is somewhat hectic and we can use aliexpress as the sample order platform. I also agreed as aliexpress has escrow. The rates provided by haoyetech are almost 10-20% cheaper than any other competitor and nobody else is providing free express delivery. I plan to order few samples that will be nearly 200USD. Should I go ahead with the deal.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi There,

      Why are you expecting free delivery on samples or real order for that matter?

      There’s no such a thing as free shipping – even if it does say free shipping, seller just ads shipping costs to product price.

      As business owners, we always want to know REAL product price and then shipping – separately, so we can calculate best shipping methods, how they affect landed cost etc.

      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew,

        I really appreciate your promt reply. I want free shipping just for samples. I have a fair idea of the shipment costing. As I am odering just the samples currently for quality checking purpose I am expecting free shipment for the samples. Once I will finalize the products i will ask my importer to get the goods picked up from the sellers factory after third party inspection. As the quantity will be high I might order a full container of mixed materials which will cost me much less on freight charges. After the goods land at kolkata, India port, my custom clearing agent will do the rest. What I wanted was to shortlist the manufacturers to buy samples and then further shortlist to the final product and manufacture. I came across this company who have been exchanging mails and messages since a couple of weeks. Just wanted to check if they are legitimate or scammers.

        Thanks a lot
        Abhinav Gupta

  54. Hey Andrew,

    (This article seems very very wonderful! Chinese scammers and Pakistan scammers are the worst. I’m of Chinese descent and I am very ashamed of the bad Chinese people who are ruining good Chinese citizens. Actually. Chinese scammers are very common there because Alibaba’s HQ is in Hangzhou.)

    I searched Alibaba for bluetooth wireless headset. This is what I found is very good. http://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/SX-991-4-1-Sports-Stereo_60299378000.html?spm=a2700.7724838.0.0.NAIvfC ( sorry ) This is from Mainland China and Shenzhen Shuaixian Electronic Equipment Co., Ltd. is a 8yr gold supplier. Payment Terms:T/T,Western Union

    Is this a scam? I need help!

    Regards,
    Mars

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mars,

      At first glance they look ok to me!

      have you ordered samples from them?

      Andrew

  55. Yasser Malik

    oops, I do apologise, I do believe I forgot to add the link.

    http://tiankaichem.en.alibaba.com/

    Regards,

    Yas

  56. Yasser Malik

    Hi Andrew,

    I’m looking to purchase 300 tons of Caustic Soda via Alibaba, only concern is that most suppliers appear to be asking for a 30% deposit. Whilst I understand this is normal practice in China, even the suppliers on Alibaba whom offer Trade assurance appear reluctant to do so despite it being free.

    Their excuses make no sense so I wonder if this is a way to avoid paying tax? as with trade assurance a proper invoice must be produced and verified.
    I was wondering if you could take a look at the supplier we have vetted – we sent a representative to see their warehouses and offices – the factory was in Inner Mongolia, which based on other suppliers appears normal since raw material costs are cheapest there. They offer trade assurance, are gold members and verified for 8 years but seem reluctant to do it as I said. There is also a possibility that they are a trading company, which isn’t too big an issue as we will arrange port testing with Bureau Veritas, the concern we have is more to do with the Deposit and safely sending it without the worry of the supplier running off with it or failing to fulfil its obligations! – afterall, it is in the region of 40,000 USD.

    Here is the link to their alibaba account. Do take a look and let me know what you think? and if paying the deposit is okay even if it is done via TT and not through trade assurance.

    Kind regards,

    Yas

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Yass,

      They look ok to me and if you have done on-site inspection, you probably should know better anyway.

      As for payments and everything – you should INSIST that deal go through Trade assurance, period. Unless you can arrange a L/C option for this kind of deal, that should work too.

      Andrew

  57. What is a on site inspection i heard u do it when u are happy with samples. And about tocget a bigger order is that right?

  58. stevenmyers

    Hi Andrew,

    Wow your such an inspiration. Thank you for all your time to put posts i personally infinitely appreciate. Im wanting to start but would you tell me how would it be easier to find business opportunities how to niche down and find a category that will sell ? And also the part of customs wasnt that clear to me should i even ask about the subject to supplier or just assume that everything is taken care off ?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Please check out other posts on my blog that cover your questions in detail:

      https://andrewminalto.com/start-ebay-business/

  59. I am looking to place my first order on Alibaba which comes to $600 for 100 pieces of goods including shipping. The supplier looks genuine everything checks out, 5 years on site, and verified with on site inspection and they specialise in manufacturing one type of goods. A few people sell the same product on eBay selling upto 10 of the item each day. Profit works out at £3.00 per unit after everything paid (shipping, cost of units, eBay fees, postage to buyer and PayPal fees). Everything checks out, doesn’t look to good to be true, not branded and I’m 99% sure these are the manufacturer not reseller)
    They said payment either by western union or Paypal, obviously I choose PayPal, they want me to pay 5% to cover there PayPal fee which I think is fair.
    My main question is when paying through PayPal what sort of information is needed on the PayPal invoice to be covered for buyer protection? I was sent an invoice with product title, unit number and total cost that was about it, with her address and name. What else should be on the invoice? I have asked her to put in the t&c’s, the shipping info and when the order will be shipped by and to what address and just waiting for a revised invoice.
    Also when I talk on Alibaba through messaging and live chat always the same person and the PayPal account which sent the invoice is not a company one just her own one, but I’m sure that she owns the business through research.
    What are your thoughts on this please.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Luke,

      The company looks ok to me, it’s not a branded product and not really a high risk niche.

      So I think with PayPal payment & everything else you’ll be fine.

      Andrew

  60. Wish I had read this before I rushed into buying on alibaba. Lost $2,600 on a deal with a guy from Saudia Arabia that was clearly too good to be true. The person set up a fake escrow email that requested me to send money to an individual bank account in Germany. So embarrassed I haven’t told my family and doubt I ever will

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Sorry to hear about that Paul.

      At least now you’ll know exactly why things went wrong there….

      Andrew

  61. I am new to Alibaba and have a few questions that I hope you can help with. I am interested in purchasing 1000 wall mounted bottle openers for resale. This could be an on-going thing. After reading some comments, is the best possible scenario to find a manufacturer that is a gold supplier that is willing to send a sample first? Also, use someone that offers Paypal funded by a credit card and has Trade Assurance?

    As far as shipping goes, do I need to worry about filling out any Customs paperwork, or is that done by the supplier? Does the shipment come directly to my address?

    Sorry, a newbie!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jim,

      Thanks for your comment.

      YES, to part one.

      Shipping – I guess that you’ll be shipping these via a courier company? Then you don’t have o worry about anything as courier company will get paper work done and deliver package right to your door, yes.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. How about using a pre-paid “credit card” that is not associated with my bank account?

        1. When placing an order, it also requires to upload the contract. Is this something we create? Any suggestions?

        2. Andrew Minalto

          Hi Jim,

          What difference does it makes? You mean to protect your credit card safety when dealing on Alibaba?

          Andrew

  62. What do you think about this website and product? It’s not a knock off from what I can tell because no other companies make this board and the website only sells skateboards. I want to request a sample and they do offer those so right now I’m not seeing any issue. What do you think? Thanks!
    http://www.skateboard-china.com/china-cheap-customize-electric-skateboard-best-e-skateboards-factory-adult-skateboards-sale-online-shop-st-manufacturer.html

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Alex,

      It looks ok to me! You should be safe ordering a sample from them.

      But before you do, make sure you do some research online to find if there are no patents on this kind/type of skateboards.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  63. Hi!i just try to order iphone 6 s plus 64 gb,5pcs.each pcs cost $350..they said 2 pcs free also..but its from germany,yet i didn’t send money through escrow,i fell like scam this,can you please sugest mr.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      It’s 100% SCAM!!!

      Stay away.

      Andrew

  64. Hi man
    I really appreciate your valuable post
    i contacted a manufacturer on alibaba, hey agreed on sending a sample. and they said tha they accept Escrow. They 7yrs Gold membership with trade inssurance. They’re putting their manufacture video.
    Whats your opinion about them.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Josef,

      I can’t tell you whatever supplier is safe or not from just this info.

      But they sound safe enough to order samples from, then you can do further investigation in them.

      Andrew

  65. Cant EMS deliver to the Uk? As company im dealing with said they will send via EMS or if over 25 pieces, DHL.
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      EMS can deliver to the UK, sure.

      EMS packages in the UK are handled by Parcel Force.

      Andrew

      1. So EMS is fine? You said “if they say shipping is via EMS, it’s a scam”.

        Regards
        Calum

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Hi Calum,

          There’s nothing wrong with EMS as a courier service.

          BUT if you see an online wholesaler, selling BRANDED products and shipping via EMS, it means they sell Fakes. As EMS is a Chinese courier service basically and this means that goods are sent from China. Branded goods from China = FAKES!

          Hope this explains it.

          Thanks,
          Andrew

          1. Ah I see, thanks for confirming. I didn’t notice that section was referring to branded goods.

            Enjoying reading your site, thanks for the great content!

            Regards
            Calum

          2. Andrew Minalto

            You’re welcome Calum! 🙂

  66. I have bought cca 10 different items – flower seeds – for example peony, rose hyacinth, bamboo – and ALL 10 WERE FAKE!!! They sent me fake seeds of industrial crops how the flax-seed etc. But my hobby is my garden and I can discern seeds. So I wrote it them that the seeds were fake and ALL of them answered me: “Sorry, here is a new worker who make mistakes…” Simply disgusting lies. All 10 were a swindlers. It is immoral and very coarse.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Anna,

      If they acknowledge their mistake, did they offer to send a replacement or refund?

      Andrew

  67. Also, after a bit more research it appears that they have a facebook page that has been updated about every week with new damascus products since january 2012. Seems a bit elaborate for a scam right ?

  68. Hi,

    I’m thinking about buying custom damascus steel billets to make motorcycle parts from a 1 year gold certified supplier in pakistan, and after he first asked me to pay with westernu union or moneygram (the account he gave me is to his personal name and not to the company’s) I ran into your article, and told him I wouldn’t use any of these payment methods.

    I asked him wether he could use a safer method such as T/T, Alibaba Escrow, Trade Assurance, wire transfer or credit card (I’d already asked to use Paypal but apparently that doesn’t work in Pakistan) and he said he was ok with T/T, but the bank info he gave me is still to his name and not to the company’s.

    Now, I know it refers directly to at least two scams you exposed, but it has nothing to do with branded goods usually used as scams. This company as far as I can tell only deals in damascus knifes and knife supplies.

    He is a bit cheaper than other suppliers I’ve had quotes from, so it’d be a shame for me not to do business with him, but of course I don’t wanna lose $200 and some time to some stupid scam.

    What do you think ?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Arthur,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Dealing with suppliers in Pakistan can be tricky as they don’t take PayPal by default (PayPal is not available in Pakistan) and it’s hard to verify these suppliers too.

      Personal bank account info still seems suspicious to me – this means that he takes money on his own name and NOT the company. This increases chances of you getting scammed.

      $200 is not a lot of money but still, I would personally pick a different supplier, maybe more expensive but one that takes solid payment methods and can be verified.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Ok, thanks a lot, your advice is priceless for noobies such as myself !

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You’re welcome Arthur! 🙂

  69. Hi
    I was on alibaba so I seen this company it’s called sonnetstone private limited company so I clicked on them they are 8 years gold suppliers so their page came up and I clicked on view all products so iseen a mac book pro for $500 but I don’t know if its a scam I called the supplier and said I will order 1 just to test and he said pay by western union and I said it’s risky then I ask him what if I buy goods worth of 20000 dollars he said then u can use PayPal is this a scam please answer asap. Thank u

    1. Andrew Minalto

      of course it is a scam Dave, don’t even think twice about it!

      Alibaba is NOT the place to buy branded goods, especially mac books.

      And $500 is simply UNREAL price to be true anyway, from any supplier.

      Andrew

  70. Hi Andrew,

    I am thinking about ordering some pants. The agent is sending a free sample for me without shipment payment. Does this sound too good? All other suppliers wants me to pay shipment fee. The supplier is 5 years Gold. I can’t seem to find any reviews about them on any websites! In addition, Alibaba has an on site for there web page and Alibaba says that they did a third party check up to see if the place does exist and according to them it does.

    The place is Nanchang Oh Young Fashion. Have you heard of them

    What do you think?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Dev,

      That is not un-common. Some suppliers on Alibaba indeed send out free samples without even charging a shipping fee. They just realise how important acquiring new customers are and invest in this by covering all costs associated with samples.

      I quickly checked their Alibaba profile and they look ok to me!

      If samples are good, I would recommend you do factory inspection and then decide on whatever you want to place order with them or not:

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

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  71. Hi andrew,first of all i want to thank you for this helpuful article and second thing i need an advice about alibaba. I never tried alibaba but i want to start … so i`m planing to buy some playstations 4. i found a 8 yrs gold member and get in touch with him on skype. he said that for 2 pcs i have to pay 150$each but with moneygram or western union transfer, but for 20 pcs i can pay trough paypal 125$ each. also he assuerd me that is not a rip off by telling my this :

    “You are 100% guaranteed of receiving your order after payment confirmation,if you don’t get it within 2 days of shipment,we will refund your money back to you.

    to make verification about our company you visit the following websites and search with the company Registration number 05861227 or company name SALES ASSOCIATES (UK) LIMITED

    http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/info

    So what do you think ? Kind regards !

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Alex,

      Thanks for your comment.

      It’s a 100% SCAM!!!! Stay away!

      $125 or even $150 or even $200 – that’s a clear sign of a scam going on. Those prices are simply UNREAL!

      PLUS Alibaba is NOT the place to look for Play Station consoles! 99% of listings for such items on Alibaba will be scams.

      Andrew

  72. I need your advice on this, looks like a scammer to me:
    He wanted to pay him via WU, then he agreed to pay him via alibaba secure payment ( formerly escrow). He has one year gold supplier icon and trade insurance and 10 transactions in total.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jimmy,

      The link you posted – it doesn’t work anymore, nothing comes up…

      Andrew

      1. He must have changed it or deleted it…anyway this is a new link from the same seller…

        He changed orders from one piece to three now and and now laptop costs $350 (was $300). What do you think?

        1. And I dont know if it would be of any help but I asked him (just for fun) if I can personally meet him and pay for laptop and he agreed. Odd dont you think?!

        2. Andrew Minalto

          That links still doesn’t work – 404 error pages comes up.

  73. I’ve just started contacting a few suppliers on alibaba, seems very long winded to actually get an order! Go through all the steps then just says waiting for the trade assurance contract! How long does this bloody take! I always use gold suppliers and would never use western union! Scampers them self’s haha

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Really depends on the supplier – some are very fast with replying etc. while others can’t be even reached.

      That’s why I recommend using Live Chat on Alibaba to communicate with suppliers and get things done faster.

      Andrew

  74. Hi Andrew,

    I recently made a purchase over Alibaba, with our firm arranging the shipping right from the manufactures door to our door, so the Chinese supplier does not have to worry about anything else. Now, about 2 weeks later, the goods have just been collected 1 day ago, and now the supplier is asking me to cancel TRADE ASSURANCE as the order is small otherwise it will need to declare at customs?? It is not even dangerous.

    What she is asking is – “Because the total value is small,DHL tell me that it doesn’t need to customs declaration.But in the beginning,the order is by TRADE ASSURANCE,which must declar at the customs.So would you like to cancel the TRADE ASSURANCE and “reexchange amount ” fill in zero?Please kindly noted that it doesn’t have any effect at all. The goods export by DHL,without customs,tax rebate. When you cancel the TRADE ASSURANCE,please fill zero in the reexchange amount,please. Because it doesn’t means canceling the order,but the form(TRADE ASSURANCE).I would like to know if you can understand my meaning.Sorry”

    Can you made head or tail of that? I am not too sure what to do, I have the tracking number of the goods, they have been collected and on their way. Well I presume it is the right goods on their way!!

    I have also been speaking to our freight agents, and they say as the order is relativity small it will fly through customs without any declarations anyhow!! I’m not sure if the supplier is trying this, and when the product comes if it is the wrong thing I won’t have a leg to stand on!

    Regards

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Terrence,

      To me it sounds like supplier is playing some games with you….

      Do NOT cancel Trade assurance contract for whatever reason they’re pushing forward. Just wait for goods to arrive and see what happens – whatever they have sent you correct items or not.

      Andrew

  75. Hello, I really liked the article! I’m going to be sourcing some electronic equipment from Alibaba in the next couple of months. I would like to purchase directly from a manufacturer and not a supplier. How can I verify that a company is a manufacturer and not a distributor? Thanks.

    Steve

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Steve,

      You can easily verify this by doing a factory inspection:

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

  76. I have just been scammed by a supplier on Alibaba for total cost of 199 pound. Does anyone no what I can do to get this back thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Emma,

      What payment method you used & what products you ordered?

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Western union and ordered perfume thanks for any help you may have

        1. Andrew Minalto

          I’m afraid that money is gone for good Emma.

          Please read my Alibaba scam posts very carefully to avoid such scams in future.

          Thanks,
          Andrew

  77. Actually Aliexpress is a bit safer than alibaba..and I will recommend aliexpress for begineers..nice article by the way,if I hadn’t see this then I would have been scammed in a week time cos I already made an order which I promised them to pay next week..but they all just fall into everything you said above..
    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Good for you! 🙂

      Yes, Ali Express is safer for newbies, only downside is that for large quantities pricing there isn’t that competitive.

      Andrew

  78. Beware of this company , SGS Trade, http://sgs-trade.com/, contact information follows:
    Contact information ?+++++++++++++
    Skype: internationalsales01
    Telephone: +0086-0755-33574231
    Mobile Phone: +0086-15627494231
    Email 1: flyfenginforcenter@gmail.com
    Email 2 : goodbusiness1999@gmail.com

    This is Scam Company,, many complaints of un delivered ordered items, including me i lost hundreds of dollars…

    I just wonder why Alibaba.com can not identify which of the suppliers in their database which are legitimate or not, why Alibaba became famous what are their bases when it is flooded with scammers?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Robert,

      What is their Alibaba profile link?

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  79. Richard Stallman

    @ point #1: you’ve got it backward; the real scam is buying the branded good from the brand; the Chinese will sell you the same thing with a very modest markup above cost

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Very, very rarely it is true Richard.

      In most cases you receive low quality copy that is made of cheaper materials, lower overall quality and short life span.

      Andrew

  80. I advise people to stop reading this blog entry after the 1st tip which is probably the only thing useful in the whole article, some of the statements are completely untrue.

    The thing is, you can’t be scammed out of your money easily because, just like eBay or Amazon, Alibaba/Aliexpress has a tight consumer protection, so tight that you can easily scam sellers if you wanted to, but that would hinder your reputation as a buyer, obviously.

    Anyway, when you pay for something on Alibaba/Aliexpress the seller doesn’t get his hands on your money until you either confirm the reception of the goods or the buyer protection coverage reaches a deadline. Either way, you can always open a dispute whether it’s because you didn’t receive the actual goods or the goods aren’t what you expected or what was described. Furthermore, if the seller decides to change the description of an article after doing a deal, Alibaba will keep a snapshot of the page as it was at the time of purchase.

    I have purchased there over 30 items in the past year and never once was I scammed.
    Only once did I ask for a full refund and once also for an extension of the Buyer Protection – both as expected. The full refund was because I didn’t receive the goods and the seller was not answering my messages. Eventually he did answer the refund dispute in my favor and politely asked for me to pay him back directly through Paypal in case I ever got the product in the mail. I still haven’t got it, but if I do I’ll show the same honesty I have been shown. The Buyer Protection extension was requested because when it was reaching the deadline the product was still in customs. I was granted an additional 30 days extension and am still waiting for customs to release the product.

    This isn’t to say that there isn’t the occasional scammer (which I never encountered) but I imagine it is very possible to have someone try to trick you into buying clones or pay to an external account. That’s all very possible and people should watch out for that, but don’t be fooled by this guy (oh, look, an eBay advert in this blog) who tries to imply that only western markets are capable of offering you the secure channel you need. That’s all BS and we actually need more serious competition in this area. Don’t be afraid to use it, start with something small and you’ll see it works pretty well. Free-shipping for almost everything. The 2 main nagging problemas with Alibaba/Aliexpress, products can take 30+ days to reach you and customs may apply taxes and fees for items that are more expensive, when shipped from mainland China. But a lot of the biggest “mainland China” sellers already have systems and partnerships with US/European couriers which will redirect the goods so that it doesn’t get caught up and delayed by customs.

    Finally, I’m not affiliated with Aliexpress nor do I earn any money from this rant, the opposite from the owner of this website. I just think it’s wrong to tell people something without including valuable information, like the fact that there are buyer protection mechanisms.

    Cheers.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Are you serious? Did you actually read my article? Do you even know the difference between Alibaba and Ali Express? And what this article is about?

      I’m NOT against using Alibaba/Ali Express – it’s the OPPOSITE!!!

      You should really read the article and other Alibaba posts on my blog before leaving such comment.

      Andrew

    2. You are then one of the people who have not been scammed and already know everything so bully for you.

      Many have had bad experiences and appreciate the helpful advice from this blogger.

  81. I have just lost £123 on aliexpress, seller said item shipped straight away but tracking not working after a week, he said item in production, after another week I raised a dispute, he said he would ship in four days and asked me to end dispute, I did this not knowing it would finish item and he would be paid, even though I have not confirmed goods.

    Aliexpress already stated they not going to refund me as I accepted no refund but item shipped in four days, because closing dispute closed sale seller has not shipped he been paid.

    Aliexpress know this and blame me but I stated he still not shipped but it’s finished as far as they are concerned, there goes my £123.

    On top of this the seller is still trading.

    I hope they go out of buisiness, full of fakes and scammers with no scruples,

    I repeat Aliexpress know I had no goods and seller paid, they stated some sellers take advantage of dispute system, but still not refunding or helping me.

    I will never shop there again.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Derek,

      I’m sorry to hear you made this mistake….

      But you should have really read at least basic info on how Escrow works, before ending your dispute.

      Also – if seller still trades and has good feedback, maybe there’s still a chance that they will ship your goods? Say that you will leave bad feedback if they don’t dispatch goods within x days.

      Andrew

  82. we know is a fake,thats why its so cheap,anyone who buys on ali and expects a original brand for a couple of bucks is an idiot.they dont even claim that ist a original.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Many, MANY people are not aware of the fact that all branded goods from China are fakes.

      Trust me – I get emails rom such people all the time 🙂

      Andrew

  83. What a poorly written article…pretty pathetic. I have received some unbelievable deals from China…to say if something seems “too good to be true” then it is a scam is ridiculous. China is legit with quality that can meet or exceed that in the US. Yes, there are a lot of scammers that give them a bad reputation but if you just use some common sense (which is outlined in this poor article) then you will be okay most of the time.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      LOL, isn’t “too good to be true” – a common sense scenario?

      I use this phrase, “too good to be true” to explain how branded item scams work – e.g. Apple iPhone 6 for $200.

      That is a 100% SCAM and falls into “too good to be true” category.

      Andrew

  84. buh,,,will I say,m just lucky,,av been dealing with aliexpress now for the past 2 years,and av not had any course to complain or get scammed.i get all my orders in very good conditions…

  85. Hi Andrew! I’m planning to purchase a big quantity and I’m wondering what is the best payment option? Should I stick with Trade Assurance? If I won’t use that, alibaba escrow or paypal?

    Is being verified the same as on-site check?

    One more thing. I’ve talked to tons of suppliers and 2 of them stopped responding as soon as I asked for a paypal invoice for my sample order. They seemed willing to let me purchase a sample (we’ve been talking about the styles of the samples of the order for quite some time so I don’t think they don’t want to send me samples) so I’m wondering if you’ve encountered something similar to this and if it is a scam.

    Many thanks in advance!

    1. I’m sorry I meant I think they’re alright with me purchasing a sample but they haven’t replied ever since

    2. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jam,

      Yes, you should stick with Trade Assurance if it’s a big order.

      If that’s not available, then PayPal is your 2nd best choice.

      Andrew

      1. Is trade assurance fool-proof?

        And why is paypal better than escrow? Isn’t escrow better because they hold the money until you acknowledge that you’ve received it.

        My only problem with trade assurance is that you have to declare the exact prixe which leads to a big tax..

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Hi Jam,

          Nothing is fool-proof when you’re dealing with Chinese suppliers… I haven’t had any experience with it IF things go really bad, so can’t comment on how effective it is when problems occur. But in general it is safe and suppliers KNOW that when Trade Assurance is involved, they simply MUST follow the rules.

          PayPal is good as IF you fund the transaction with your credit card, IF things go wrong, you can always do a charge back with your credit card company and get your money back.

          Thanks,
          Andrew

  86. hi Andrew

    thanks for sharing this

    today I made a deal to buy some a product from one of the company in alibaba which has 4 year gold suplier and itrade assurance. i did ask her to show me her photograph in the office with the product and she did send me that.
    and then when i decided to order, she told me that i can order directly from her not via alibaba, because it’s more complicated. but i insist to order from alibaba and i ask her for the form. but then later i change my mind and agree with her sugestion. she made a n ivoice and she still send it to my email in alibaba.

    but then i’ve got suspicious when she gave me the paypal acount number, because it;s not under thename of the company.. ex. her company is heihei.com but her paypal account is under 21323@lala.com
    so i told her i postpone the order. and then icheck the account number in paypal. and it said that this account number has been amember since 2013

    now i’m confuse, should i continued or not

    btw my order only for 134 dollar because before i contact them I already read your article here, and i only order small just for sample first

    could you give advice

    thanks in advance

    best regards

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Do they have an Ali Express shop?

      If they do, for such small orders it would be best to place them via Ali Express as then you get secure payment/escrow service.

      Andrew

    2. I know this is an old question but what you are stating is very common. We purchase electronics all the time through Alibaba and very few want to use the Alibaba payment system because the money can be tied up for long periods of time.
      I wouldnt advise one way or the other on your ordering like this but I can say every single order we have done has always been through paypal payments (most charge a fee) using email addresses full of numbers. The only time we have ever been denied paypal was on a large order the supplier demanded western union and we refused, after a few days they made a purchase link on Aliexpress to purchase from but all along also refused payments through the Alibaba site itself.

      If the supplier is rated good on Alibaba and the paypal email address is verified we have never had issue.

      1. Andrew Minalto

        Thanks for sharing your experience with us Larry!

        Andrew

  87. Dj Pak Assa

    Hi Andrew.

    Thanks for the post, very helpful. And very strange for me because I’ve never bought from alibaba, I’m trying to do it now, but the conversation that I’m having with suppliers are like the one you listed above. I’m looking for Dj gears, pionner, I could find very good deals, but very very good, for ex, pioneer CDJ 2000 nexus is $1000, and Djm 2000 nexus is $760!!! Really!!! The CDJ is more expensive than Djm mixer??? And you buy 5 get 2 free shipping and so on… But before I created an account I read couple of articles on the web about how to deal with alibaba, like supplier profile, I’m just talking with verified gold suppliers, and based in the USA, UK, and Egypt. But the prices are very very differents from eBay or Amazon, or in the pioneer website. Another thing Is the payment method, only money gran and WU, even for supplier based in the U.S., I don’t know if it’s me, but I didn’t find supplier that accept other payment way. Do you think there’s no way to be true, because I’m not getting that much difference from the supplier, only one of the asked me to talk via gmail, let me tell you that I’m really aprehensive, I’m divided although it seems to be scam, there are really very good deal. Now I’m wondering, how could jack ma getting rich with such fake deals in his platform???!!!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      They are ALL 100% SCAMS!!!

      Don’t even think about it!

      For Pioneer products you need to find official distributors in your country and nothing else.

      Andrew

  88. Hi. Sorry I did not read this before I was scammed for $250.00 for 7KG of live Helix Pomiata snails. I am usually very careful, but this time I was so excited about finding a suppler who would sell me a small amount , that I let caution go out the window. I thought dealing with Alibaba was safe seeing has they referred.the supplier.. There is nothing that I could do about it now. Thank God I did not send additional Insurance Money of $1,666.00. Sometimes it pays to have a shoe string business. I tired getting in touch with Alibaba’s complaint department. That became an impossible task. I placed a call to Western Union, notified the police department and FCC, even though I knew they could do nothing see as the supplier was from British Columbia. and the Western Union went to Camroon Africa.. However there cell phone numbers are registered in the United States and I did give that information to Western Union. Hopefully some day this will all stop. I guess it is just wishful thinking on my part. In my last e-mail to the supplier, I let him know that I was aware of what had happened. I told him I forgave him, and now he was in Gods hands.. Thank you

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Roseann,

      Thanks for sharing this with us.

      I really wish I could show this guide and my blog to EVERYONE who starts importing from China but unfortunately it’s out of my reach….

      Andrew

  89. I got scammed with fake customs paperwork. The company literally forged government documents. First the product allegedly got stuck in the Dominican Republic and we paid after the paperwork looked legitimate and a few days later we received another email saying the package was stuck in Mexico, even the Mexican consulate said the paperwork looked like govt paperwork. I refused to pay the fake mexican customs but was still out over 3k. The worst part was it was out of Moldova and no one to report it to. Both my business partner are pretty online savvy and it proves the scams are just getting more elaborate. I would have had better luck buying that puppy on Craigslist from Nigeria

    1. Andrew Minalto

      So bad that you didn’t saw my post before this happened..

      As this is one of the most popular scams and covered in this guide.

      Andrew

  90. Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for the post. I’ve been tampering with the idea of buying goods on Alibaba and reselling them for profit on eBay and Amazon. However, my scam-o-meter is running REALLY high.

    First, I started communicating with a few suppliers (all unverified) and got the creeps, so I walked. Deals were so sweet that I kept looking back, but stuck with the rule: If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.

    Second, I started to get smart and narrow my search to verified gold suppliers with trade assurance and onsite checks. That’s when I ran into a company with 7-year Gold Supplier status, A&V check, and solid communication. HOWEVER, once the communication started rolling I noticed some scam potential. For example, I’m looking at a Nvidia Quadro K6000 graphics card (aka – branded item) that sells for ~$2500 on ebay, but only $500/unit on Alibaba with this supplier. Scam-o-meter started dinging! Then, all communication was forced over to Gmail where the company name shifted from what was on Alibaba. DING, DING, DING! Running hot now… then, the kicker, Western Union, T/T or MoneyGram payment.

    I figured I’d better run from this one, but wanted to touch base with you. How is it that a verified 7-year supplier on Alibaba have this good of a deal?? I’m assuming their account was hacked because they primarily sell seeds (corn, cumin, vegetable, etc.), but now list electronics, baby strollers, iPhones, etc. What the hell??

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ron,

      Yes, it usually happens when:

      a) an Alibaba account gets hacked;

      b) someone buys/over-takes Alibaba account/company;

      c) employee plays out their own “game”.

      Anyway, you should know that you can’t get BRANDED goods from Mainland China, so you shouldn’t even think about getting PC graphics cards from there.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  91. thanks for this! Was looking at a pioneer ddj-sz and they have it listed $400 a piece, and if you buy (2) units, the 3rd is free! hahah cheapest pioneer ddj-sz on ebay is going for $1695 a piece. like what they say, if its too good to be true, then it usually isnt.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      It’s a 100% scam Calvin, of course.

      Branded goods + such buy one, get one free deals are very popular amongst scammers.

      Andrew

  92. […] The Top 10 Scams on Alibaba […]

  93. Hello Andrew,

    Thanks a lot for all your help, your blog is very useful.
    I have a question for you: we’are about to make an order in alibaba with a firm that match all you points. Now they’ve told us something wrong: the CIF price is cheaper than the FOB price. We asked how could be it possible and they reply this:

    “That’s very common.

    FOB cost is higher is customer’s forwarder usually ask us for very high forwarder cost.
    But if by ship by our forwarder, we only have sea freight, no forwarder cost.

    Hope you can kindly understand.”

    What do you think? We have to worry about it?

    Looking forward t hearing from you.

    Thanks again.

    Best regards.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      That doesn’t really make sense to me – CIF price should be higher than FOB.

      1. I really have nothing to say. Just I would like to deeply thank you for your valuable info that you introduced.

        Sincerely,
        Saleh

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You’re welcome Saleh! 🙂

  94. […] perfect supplier in China, using Alibaba or any other sourcing platform, you’ve made sure the company isn’t a scam, and everything went through fine with your sample […]

  95. […] and I’m afraid to say you’ll never see your money again. Next time, be more careful and LEARN about dealing with Chinese suppliers before sending money to […]

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