If you’re looking to buy a high priced item from Amazon… you might want to look somewhere else. Recently, I purchased a GTX 1080 from Amazon, and I noticed a host of fraudulent scam artists posting massively lower prices for these types of GPUs. It was a nuisance, but I avoided them and got a good price from a reputable dealer. A few month’s later, however, I was looking into the purchase of a laptop and noticed that almost *ALL* of the prices I saw when looking items up were from fraudulent sellers. What’s worse, is that I even went to a valid store front of an Amazon reseller, and noticed that all of their listing prices were messed up because of these fraudulent sellers.
What this means, is that if you’re looking to buy an item, then at best, searching by price is completely worthless, and at worst, you’re going to trust a scammy looking person and get, well, scammed.
Of course I looked for a valid way to report these, because surely Amazon must care about this issue, but there was none. In fact, I had to login to my account, go to Help, go through a few drop downs of “other issue not related to ___” to finally open a chat so that I could even talk to someone about the issue. The results were not exactly reassuring.
I’ve included the chat below, and will include some screen grabs to show what I’m talking about, but for the sake of tl;dr “wow, this is a shock to us!” and “we really can’t do anything about it.”
Within the time it took me to type and edit this post and grab screenshots, not only were the sellers that I mentioned taken down (they’d been up all day long), but new and LOWER priced scam listings were put up as new and used offers (previously, they were mostly “new” listings with very few being “used”). Maybe this shows that they did take me seriously, but daaaaannng, Amazon! You guys have some work to do! And buyers, this means you have even more work to do in order to avoid being scammed.
Me (opening statement): There are many fraudulent storefronts in the computer section which drastically affects pricing, and therefore purchase choices.
You are now connected to James from Amazon.com
Me: Hi there, you have multiple storefronts in the computing section w/a massively lower price, 0 feedback, and they’re clearly scammers. Can you guys do something to get those out of the listings?? By having them in the listings, the prices for products are completely worthless, because these lower prices are showing instead of actual prices for those products
It also misrepresents the valid company that these prices hide under
James: Hello, my name is James. I’m here to help you today. Oh I see… I’m not sure to be honest this is the first time I’ve heard of that. Do you have an example I could check out?
I have two different ways at arriving at an entire list of invalid prices.
Here’s one search I did for a specific criteria of computers: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_nr_p_89_0?fst=as%3Aoff&rh=n%3A172282%2Cn%3A541966%2Cn%3A13896617011%2Cn%3A565108%2Cn%3A13896615011%2Ck%3AMSI+i7%2Cp_n_size_browse-bin%3A7817234011%2Cp_89%3AMSI&sort=price-asc-rank&keywords=MSI+i7&ie=UTF8&qid=1482015004&rnid=2528832011
All of those prices are wildly off
ignore the barebone one that comes up as a first result, and take a look at the MSI GP72 Leopard Pro for $560.56
Click on the $560.56 new (1 offer) part
And you’ll be taken to only ONE “seller” called rob walsh
his description is “NEVER USED~BeforÃ« you buy, cÃ¶ntact mÃ«~NEU.|Shipping 3-4 business days|FREE SHIPPING| ”
This is common in all of the scam storefronts. 0 sales history, and you’ll see things like, “NEVER USED” or “100% positive”, then you see “before purchasing contact.. ” and they’ll circumvent your filters to put up their email address
Actually, here’s one that has two different fraud store fronts to show you what a typical listing for conditions is: https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B01ATSJBNE/ref=sr_1_6_olp?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1482012705&sr=1-6&keywords=MSI+i7&condition=new
I know these are fraudulent prices, and I’ll show you how i know here in a sec
do you follow everything that I’ve been saying so far?
James: I see what you mean. Almost all of them are sold by Rob and Douglas J. Elliot. Yeah, you should never contact any third party seller outside of Amazon either. That’s a good call, you’re definitely a smart man. Yeah those are the links I was just looking at. I do. Every one of the links for this computer is by those 2 people, both brand new sellers. It’s definitely suspicious.
so, that’s just an average user looking for something
every single “price” on the first page is a fraudulent price, so their search is worthless
But here’s something that’s far more nefarious
That is XOTIC PC’s store front
go ahead and click on the price of the first product that pops up.
Here, you can see a VALID listing from XOTIC, and our friend, Mr. Walsh
notice the massive price difference
James: Ah I see. You’re absolutely right. Great catch! Give me just a moment here this is the first time I’ve ran into something like this let me see what I can do.
Me: so here’s the thing
every single one of those prices on your valid reseller’s store front is wrong
so an average person’s search is completely worthless due to these scam artists
and then a valid reseller of yours (and I’m assuming they pay you to be a store front) also has their entire stock rendered worthless
James: Alright, so I checked with my lead, and he does have a point. We can’t speculate or assume anything. I totally understand it looks suspicious, I even thought the same thing at first, but we don’t know who these guys are. They may be part of a bigger company or store that has the stock to lower the prices that much. Or, you may be absolutely right, but until we have some sort of proof of foul play there isn’t anything that we can do.
Me: So you’re saying you’re fine with scam artists rendering your website worthless, and most likely causing someone who doesn’t know prices to be scammed, which is a headache for them and you
and they’re clearly circumventing your policy of putting contact information in the “condition” of the item… but that’s ok too?
James: If they are scamming anyone, we will catch them. We don’t throw someone in prison for looking scary, we still need proof. I’ve reported them for that already, but I’m not in the department that reviews those reports so I don’t know what the next steps there are.
Me: But they *are* currently circumventing your policies by putting contact information in the “condition” of a product.
forget the fact that you don’t care if a customer can accurately use [your] site, or all of the headache they will have to go through if they get duped by these guys.. they’re currently breaking your policies, and that doesn’t matter either?
James: As I said, I’ve reported them for that. My job is retail. I don’t deal with sellers, that is a different department.
Me: or.. if the situation is like your boss said, and they *do* have the item listed somewhere, then they’re taking sales directly away from you as well
James: Again, that is not my department. I’m sorry, but I can not provide any additional action or insight on this matter. Is there anything else I can help you with today sir?
Me: And I’m glad you reported them, but you should at least have some option available so that people who actually care about your site for you can do your work of finding fraudulent sellers.
As I said in the note above, these are actually DIFFERENT than when I talked to the guy, because they took care of the one guy I mentioned (but not the other that was on the same item…) but more sprung up in his place just in the half an hour it took for me to get this info put together. I do have a cached version of the XOTIC PC store front though.
Here’s the generic search for MSI laptops meeting a criteria (changed from the original in the text). All of the prices you see here are fraudulent.
Here’s the specific listing I mentioned in chat. Note that Rob. Walsh. is missing from this specific listing, but Douglas J. Elliott was there when the agent saw this, and XTVONLINE was added. Also note that Rob. Walsh. is still a “valid” storefront, and I verified that even after talking to the agent, he was on many other listings that I previously spied him on before talking to the agent.
Here are the two screenshots of XOTIC PC’s store front. The first is the cached version from when I was talking to the agent, the second is the exact same URL, just 30 minutes later. Every single price you see here is fraudulent.
Here’s one of the listings from XOTIC PC that shows the actual price of the item and the stark contrast of the fraudulent price. Notice that Rob. Walsh. is on here. This screen grab was taken after talking to the agent.