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Scam Alert: Facebook/Paypal Enabling Bait and Switch Chinese Scam

Have you ordered something via a Facebook ad and received something different than what you ordered — an item with no value at all. And if you paid for it via PAYPAL you are probably up the creek without a paddle.

Here’s the scoop. Chinese companies (often owned by the same parent company, ouyiec.com) buy ads for popular products, pretending to sell them at crazy discount prices. The landing pages are slick, and professional looking, as are the ads.

HOWEVER, when you receive your “order” it will contain some worthless item worth pennies.

For example, I ordered a Snow Joe electric snowthrower which was advertised as shipping from the USA (it wasn’t). When my package finally arrived, it contained…well, here’s a picture.

What I got when I ordered a Snow Joe

If you are sharp, you’d quickly realize that what they sent (from China, BTW) doesn’t resemble a snow throwing device, although it is somewhat amusing to picture being out in the Canadian snow scooping and throwing with this sucker. (I have no idea what it actually is)

There are a number of people who have been scammed this way, with the tacit approval of both Facebook and Paypal. (Do a search for ouyiec and you’ll probably find other victims and fake websites involved).

Why Do The Scammers Bother To Send You Something You Didn’t Order?

Here’s the key to the scam, and it’s brilliant in conception. When you pay via Paypal as many of us do for international purchases, you can dispute the charge if the order doesn’t arrive, or for a few other reasons such as getting the wrong item.

Here’s the catch. When Paypal approaches the scammer, the scammer simply says “Fine, return the item and we’ll refund”. Sounds reasonable, and that’s what Paypal will require from you, the victim of the scam.

Except you can’t comply even if you want to and Paypal will take the company’s word that it never received the return. Consider:

  • It will usually be the case that returning your bogus item will cost many times the value of the actual price you paid. The scammers know that few will actually try to return an item.
  • I am advised that to send a package to China, you need an actual human being’s name to send it to, rather than just an address. Of course, no human names are available, and often the site and email you purchased from no longer exists (they shut them down themselves).
  • If you pay to return, the scammers can claim they never received the return package, and it’s really hard to track the package so you can prove that you returned it. OR, they can simply refuse the package.

The upshot is, ‘THEY GOTCHA”.

…and this is going on with the tacit consent of Paypal and Facebook. In fact, Paypal must certainly be aware of the scam since so many people have approached them with disputed transactions.

So, What To Do — Buyer Beware

Once you’ve actually made a purchase related to this scam (usually from a Facebook ad) it’s probably too late for recourse. As of this writing Paypal is doing nothing of note. Neither is Facebook.

Ultimately, its buyer beware. The only way to ensure not being a victim is to NOT buy from Facebook ads. If you want to fight back, you can start clicking all these “too good to be true” ads, which costs the advertiser money, since they are charged on a per click basis.

As an alternative, do NOT pay with PAYPAL, if they continue to support Chinese bait and switch scams, because they will not protect you. USE A REGULAR CREDIT CARD, since CC companies are much more likely to stand behind you. One problem here is that the scammers don”t let you pay directly via a credit card.

Note: One of the signs of this scam is that the scammers won’t allow you to pay with anything besides Paypal.

Remember that if it’s too good to be true, it almost certainly is not real. For example, I saw a high end coffee maker advertised for a fraction of its hundreds of dollars. I have no idea what you’d get — probably a Nespresso capsule, instead.

Been scammed this way?

If you’ve been a victim of this particular bait and switch scam, please tell us know about it in the comments, and/or in the Facebook group set up for this purpose at https://www.facebook.com/groups/3752393191471250 (you may have to join the group first).

Given enough victims, spreading the word, and publicizing via media, maybe we can convince Facebook to prevent these companies from posting these ads, and Paypal to terminate their payment services for companies that receive bait and switch complaints.

I’ll update this as I get new information so you might want to follow me, or you can join the facebook group (see above).

Also please consider sharing this on the Internet and your network so we can put a stop to being victimized.

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