I write this post with a heavy heart. If you are reading this post, you probably are just like me, someone who loves being online, reading blogs, joining forums to interact with other enthusiasts whether it be makeup, nail polish or fashion. It is all so much fun until you come across a scammer. Scammers come in all different disguises. You have the scammer who just joins forums to con people out of money or goods. Then you have the scammer who works up her credibility in a forum and takes advantage of new people. And then the worst is the scammer who pretends to be your friend and finds a moment to take advantage of you. I have experienced all these types of scammers, and believe me...lesson learned.
So i write this post to tell you several ways to avoid online scammers in our forums.(whether it be makeupalley, specktra, facebook groups, the purse forum, etc. etc.). I should have listened to my gut in all instances, but I didn't, so I'm here to tell you what I should have done but didn't, in order for you to avoid getting scammed.
1. Always ship with recorded delivery/delivery confirmation. If you don't, at least get insurance on the items if it is a high ticket item. Beauty products are not cheap these days, and a couple of pieces can really add up. If you are swapping high end items, please get insurance, so at least if the receipent says it didn't show up, then at least you can put a claim in for the items.
2. Do not fall for "sap" stories. A lot of scammers will work on your compassion to get free items off of you. I once knew someone who told a forum I belong too that her house was robbed right before Christmas. After some online digging, we find out that she was in Florida with her family instead of where she said she was. She was never robbed, but told a ridiculous story about how the Bulgar trashed her house including all her nail polish. The kind ladies of our forum ended up gifting her hundreds of nail polish, and thousands of dollars worth of cosmetic. Needless to say, she knew she could tell us this sap story to con us. So don't fall for it, unless you actually know the person or there is some proof of it happening. it's a sad world we live in that we have question such tragedy, but I am out $500 worth of beauty products, so don't do it!
3. Watch out for false friendships. The worst type of scammer is the one who befriends you, then asks for a swap, and then drops off the planet and doesn't respond to you. The whole aim of this type of scammer was to create some sort of false friendship so they can acquire material goods. I would honestly say that this type is the hardest to detect. My only advice is to make sure you know someone before swapping or gifting online. I know I have felt a bond with lots of ladies, because we share a similar interest, but make sure you judge each individual on a case to case basis before sending them gifts/or swapping.
We recently had a friend of ours (over 10 years) not pay an invoice and is dodging us and disappeared completely. It happens, money sometimes wins over friendships.
4. Don't swap with people that you don't feel comfortable swapping with. A lot of people won't disclose their full name or ask you to ship to someone else's house. I honestly would not swap with anyone who won't disclose their full name, or ask you to ship elsewhere (without good reason). Of course, I do ship to other addresses, but it's with people that I have had an online relationship with for years. And just because they share a similar interest, doesn't make them your friends. Think of it this way, there are millions of ladies that like beauty products, doesn't mean they are all friend material. I recently had to stop talking to someone, because they were literally saying the most racist things I have ever heard come out of someone's mouth (mind you, I'm Asian, and believe in being P.C.). Now this doesn't mean, you should be a b&tch on the online forums, but just know how to differentiate between acquaintances online and real friendship.
5. Do background research. This is going to sound slightly odd, but if you are doing a high ticket swap or gifting, please please please google that person prior to sending (especially if you never met them offline). This actually saved a lot of women on a forum I belong too, a lot of grief and money. I actually googled someone that was new to a forum, because her stories just weren't adding up, and I found out she was a criminal!! and a scammer on other forums. So a little bit of googling will save you some time. It's a sad world we live in, but I'm glad I did google her, and was able to warn others about her.
6. The "established" member illusion. High number of feedback or posts does not mean they are legit. 99% of the time, it is the case, because why would someone want to ruin their reputation on the boards, but I have heard horror stories about makeupalley members with tons of tokens scamming people. This is what some scammers do, they build up their "tokens/feedback", just for the perfect moment and high ticket scam, and pull it off. You see this to be true on ebay as well. Whatever you do, if you are swapping, get delivery confirmation/recorded delivery, so at least you have a case against the established member if they claim they never got it.
7. Last but not least, Don't send sentimental or valuable items. Do not swap or mail anything that you would be devastated if it went missing. Sometimes the post office does make mistakes, and items do get damaged, but unless you are willing to replace it easily, don't do it.
So this is my experience with interacting online. By no means does this mean I am going to stop visitng my favourite forums or swapping with online people :) It just means there are warning signs, and I didn't follow my own rules and that's how I've been scammed.
If you have been scammed, please report them to their local sheriff's office, and/or to the post office. In the US, they take mail fraud very seriously, and you can file a report against the person. I'm not sure about the UK, but I'm pretty sure there are departments within the postal system that can help you. Don't be afraid to act.