Be careful what you Wish for. Get it? Because Wish is an online store, but it’s totally a monkey’s paw kind of deal cuz you never know what you’ll end up getting. Fine, fine, that might’ve been an awful pun, but we’re not sorry because it’s the perfect segue to talk about online shopping. Specifically, how it can go disastrously wrong because we’re either looking for a bargain that’s too good to be true or we fall prey to low-quality products and scammers.
Our hard-working team here at Bored Panda has collected a whole bunch of examples proving once and for all that just because something looks fabulous on your computer screen won’t mean that it’s exactly what you’ll get delivered to your home. Scroll down to see the effects of misinformation, scams, and bamboozles. Remember to upvote the most epic fails and if you’re up for it—share your own tales about online shopping disasters in the comment section. We promise we won’t judge. We’ve been there—trust us.
Bored Panda wanted to learn more about avoiding online shopping swindles, so we reached out to the r/Scams subreddit team for their expert guidance. One of the moderators was kind enough to walk us through how shopping scams differ from other scams and how we can stay safe when making purchases on the net. Have a read through all their tips below and be sure to follow the subreddit for other great info on staying safe.
If we said that the internet can sometimes seem like an evil den full of liars and con-artists, we’d probably surprise absolutely no one. It’s not all cat pics, wholesome stories, and heartwarming strangers online. Alas! The anonymous nature of the internet means that some people use it to gain others’ trust and scam them out of their money. And online marketplaces are no exception, even if they do have their own safeguards in place.
“I think online shopping scams are different because you lose that layer of dealing with a real-life person. When you have a real person in front of you, a typical person will feel shame or guilt at the thought of taking advantage of a person. With the internet, you aren’t dealing with a person, but a username and avatar. It is much easier to act maliciously when you don’t have a real victim directly in front of you,” one of the moderators from the r/Scams subreddit, a community of nearly 256k people, explained to Bored Panda the difference between online shopping scams and other swindles.
“Online scams also use a lot of tricks to pressure buyers; low prices, pushes to buy now!, taking advantage of someone’s kindness or naivete (re: advance check fraud, money mules, etc), or advertising one product and sending another (or nothing at all, by using a fake tracking number). Getting a person to make a decision via high-pressure tactics and preventing them from reflecting and making a sound decision is key,” the mod said.
The moderator reiterated what we all know inside that if a deal sounds too good to be true, it really is. “If a deal is too good to be true, it is. If you see a pair of brand new Apple AirPods advertised for $50, you are not getting an authentic product. There are many counterfeit items out there on the market, and you need to verify authenticity before hitting buy,” they told Bored Panda.
“Not only to avoid contributing to the counterfeit market, but because these knockoff products do not always go through the same safety standards of the real item; they may not be UL certified, they may use chemicals or ingredients that are not FDA approved and are unsafe for use on or in the human body, or could cause major harm to human life or property.”
They added that it’s the same sort of situation with online rentals. “It is very common for scammers to lift photos and descriptions of houses for sale, mark down the rent as ridiculously cheap, then insist on getting the deposit sent via Western Union or other untraceable means; when it comes time to pick up your keys, the money is gone and there was no rental for you to move into, to begin with.”
However, there is a solution to avoiding getting scammed when it comes to online rentals. For one, you can type the address into Google and see if it populates a real estate listing for the actual property for sale. “You may find a real estate listing on MLS, Zillow, or other popular property rental/sale sites. I ran into this recently with a too-good-to-be-true rental, and I was able to report the listing and notify the listing agent that their listing was being used in a scam,” the r/Scams mod warned us that they themselves recently countered a scammer.
Finally, consider upgrading to a credit card and using it instead of a debit one. “Credit card protections for most cards are much more forgiving than debit cards. You can generally get your money back faster if you were scammed or mislead by a business, versus initiating an investigation through your bank. It is always smarter to pay by credit card (and pay off your balance monthly!).”
At the end of the day, it’s a caveat emptor (“buyer, beware”) kind of world out there and it’s up to the customer to make sure that what they’re buying is legit. The risk is ours to take, unfortunately.
There are some ways to avoid potential shopping scams, however. It takes a bit of time and a bit of research, but it’s better than ordering a smartphone and receiving a brick. The first two rules for any situation, ever, are: if it looks too good to be true it probably is and trust your gut.
Got his card cloned, had various credit accounts opened in his name and received this in the post weeks later.
If you have any suspicions about a product ever—verify, verify, verify. Even if you don’t have any, do a small background check about the company and the seller. One thing to definitely be on the lookout for is weird payment methods like money orders, wire transfers, or pre-loaded money cards. Odds are that if you send your money to an iffy site using these, you’ll end up fleeced.
That’s another point, though: avoid dodgy websites that promise luxury products. Do a bit of research about the company. See if things check out or if it’s simply one huge hustle. When in doubt, use verified online marketplaces, like Amazon, eBay, and others. Though, of course, there are some hustlers on there, as well.
That’s why it’s a good idea to look at the seller’s history on the site. Take a look at any customer reviews there might be and at the seller’s previous behavior if possible. If something feels off, consider being prudent and finding someone else to purchase the product that you want from.
Some other warning signs to keep an eye out for include really low product prices and the use of flowery and over-the-top language meant to highlight just how amazing something is. And, above all else, listen to your gut. Otherwise, you’ll end up sharing your online shopping fails with all the others on the internet.
After a claim several disputes, we got the refund. We had to eat the cost of return shipping.
Expectation vs. Reality. Do not purchase from phoebetoy.com. Buyer beware!