Suspicion and paranoia - the terror of scammers

Jan 26, 2018

    1. I'm throwing this here because I don't know where else to put it, and I wanted to hear people's opinions about this topic. If it's not welcome, mods are of course free to delete it, however I couldn't find anywhere where it said that topics like this aren't allowed, and I feel it needs some kind of addressing.

      After seeing several post of the past year or so, and talking to a lot of people in the hobby, I really think the hobby has become increasingly paranoid and suspicious when it comes to second-hand market deals. I've barely been in this hobby for three years and yet the change has been noticable from my first dealings to my latest.

      The fear of scammers has put us all on high alert, and in a tight-nit community such as the BJD community, even if it's the local, national or international community you've been engaging with, there seems to be a constant rumour mill going about whichever seller or artist, who've scammed someone somehow, like selling dolls of low quality, selling recasts as legit dolls, commissions never being received et.c. This is not only limited to the second-hand market. As late as 2017, a lot of people experienced a huge setback following the disappearance of the dealer behind DollSquare. The repurcussions are still ongoing.

      Following the wake of the social media spreading and the ease of access to information from first-hand sources to "scam reports", feedback as well as the general vibe an anonymous confession blog gives off, it's like a poisonous blanket has enveloped the community. The fear of being ripped off or scammed has taken a hold over everyone I've dealt with. Endless requests for proof, proof you might not have, and subsequent suspicion that you're a liar, a scammer or a fraud, and all you can do is sit there and stare at accusations thrown in your face and maybe also distributed across social media, where your reputation might be at stake. A weapon against scammers has for a long time been, for example, claiming paypal refunds, but what do you do if the claim is false and paypal still (almost always) decides to side with the buyer?

      I'm not always a person who believes in the best of other people's intentions. I'm generally a suspicious person with very little faith in humany, but after joining this hobby I've had a hard time coming to terms with the paranoia among people here. I try my best to cover my own side of a bargain, and I believe that is the ideal thing to do when dealing at a second-hand market, but a botched deal going haywire and spinning out of control into accusations of one another of being scammers while both have a good reputation in the hobby, that is too much unnecessary drama.

      I'm not entirely sure what I want to achieve with this post. It's a start of a debate or discussion as well as a rant and also just a piece of my mind about the atmosphere on the internet. Obviously in a hobby with so much money shifting hands all the time, scammers are attracted, and there's always a risk when dealing with one person out of 7 billion,that they're not trustworthy.

      What can be done against those who claim refunds for things that are not legitimately "refund-worthy"? What are the differences?
      Who investigates negative feedback threads from different social media platforms/forums and collects all the data and help put together the pieces of the puzzle that is called scam-profiles, people et.c.? Could we register scammers somehow?
      Also, what does it take to be forgiven for past transgressions? If you amend your faults and mistakes, if you genuinely try to get out of the shadow of your past, can you expect forgiveness in a society based on "he said - she said" and word against word conflicts (in cases where evidence is not crystal clear)?

      I'm just putting these thoughts out there. I'm not sure where else to post this. I'm not trying to stir anything up, I'd just like to hear people's opinions, thoughts or similar about this. I know a lot of people have dealt with frauds and scammers, and in a lot of cases the experiences can be compared but each situation is unique to each customer, so sharing would maybe help navigate the second-hand market? Yes? No?

      I'd like to hear what you think about this whole thing.
       
    2. I'm typing this up as I read along. However, I have been in the hobby for 10+ Years. I've only owned a doll for almost ten, but being a young highschool student upon interest, it took me a while to save up..

      I'm not sure if it's increased worry on scammers, so much as there is more people in the community, making it a higher threat or possibility.
      With the growing interest in anime/games-- things that could possibly tag along with it also grows, which includes BJDs. Though they're not exactly mainstream, there's 10x + more companies that sell the dolls than there was five years ago. With interest spiking, there's going to be more collecting, and because of that, more personalities spiking. Which includes those worried about being scammed out of dolls, and people who WILL scam people out of dolls.
      So say the odds of having someone paranoid over being scam ten years ago was 1/100 people. They were few and far between. Now take the number of collectors we have now, and it's going to be an increased amount.

      There are also many other media outlets for BJDs, sharing, selling. BEfore, we only had DOA. Now you have multiple facebook groups, instgram, flickr, etc. for selling-- which means you have less protection.
      We have more people going in without knowledge as well, which makes everything all the more crazy.

      I do agree that there is a large stigma and paranoia among getting scammed, people do need ot learn that as long as you take the right steps in a sale, you're always protected.

      Don't do upfront trades unless in person. If you're trading a doll for a doll online, trade money too. That way, if the person never sends, you won't be out a doll and money.
      Do your research before a sale. If the person has no feedback anywhere, question it. If the pictures pose a slight possibility it's not theirs- ask them for a hand written note, with todays date with the doll holding it.
      Paypal will let you dispute a sale within 180 days of money transfer. As long as you bought via goods and services, you're good. never send as friends and family, even if you think you know the person well, or you're screwed.

      As for a seller: Taking precautions on the other end. If you're providing everything you need for a sale-- tracking, screenshots of conversations, pre-sale photos.. You're good! Tehre are times I've even snapped pictures of the packing process.
      Also listing all your shipping stipulations in an original post/sale post is important.
      Will you take a while to ship? List it. Pack the doll well. If it gets damaged in shipment, state you're not at fault for it. Then provide pics of a WELL PACKAGED doll, and what the doll/item looked like prior to shipping. There's things you can do. If you're paranoid, take these precautions.

      This hobby isn't cheap, take all precautions...

      There are a few facebook groups out there that allows you to post potential scammers. But for those who are paranoid during a sale, it's best to be upfront about it and cover yourself using those tools.

      Of course, it's not fool-proof. Things happen. You're always gonna get that 1 person.
       
      • x 1
    3. This, this is an interesting topic and a hard one to really nail down for an overall 'safety'.

      I'm not certain if its that the worry is greater, or that there are more platforms on which do deal and trade. Originally when I joined this hobby way back when, people pointed you to DoA for your secondhand dealings. The thing was, back then you had to be basically white listed into the forum and then you still had to earn your marketplace access. This kept people who were scammers from really trying to get into the hobby mainstream. Sure, it still happened but it wasn't as common. Then came the facebook groups, anyone could join and anyone could sell/buy. This opened up more room/area for scammers to sink their teeth into their victims. Then tumblr, instagram, etc all came about and that requires even less 'merit' to your name and gave scammers another venue. Also, the increase in companies and collectors. More people means more interactions. Add to that the economy taking a crash here or there and people get desperate, they do stupid things.

      When it comes to buying/selling secondhand my advice is: Screen shot everything. Every single message between the two of you (buyer and seller) should be screenshotted for your own personal protection. Make sure you discuss every valid detail about the transaction. How much you are selling the doll for, how much shipping will cost and the condition of the doll. As the seller make sure you check every nook and cranny, inspect every article of clothing and wig/eyes/etc before packaging. Take multiple photos in good lighting to document everything. Wrap up the doll/pieces/etc and take pictures of that inside of the box it is being shipped in before shipping it. Take a picture of the box with tracking/shipping info on it at the post office. If the buyer does not want to pay for tracking/insurance and you don't feel like losing out the cash to pay for it yourself Send a message explaining that without tracking and insurance you will not be held liable for any damages/loss of the property, make sure the buyer comments that they understand and screenshot it as well. Even that may not save you from a paypal claim...in all honesty I would probably take the loss of profit/money to buy insurance and tracking on a package I sent unless I had a history of sales/good interactions with the buyer.

      As a buyer, you need to do the exact same thing. Screen shot all communications between you and the seller (unless its gushing about how much you love each other's dolls. Thats not necessary) and make sure you have asked valid questions about the state of the doll and received photos of said conditions that meet your satisfaction. When you receive the box take a photo of it, open it, take another photo, take a photo of the condition the doll is in inside of the box and when you unwrap it. Before you do anything systematically check out the doll, clothes, wig, eyes etc. TAKE PHOTOS. A picture is worth a million words. If you find any discrepancies politely contact the seller. Its really easy to get angry and think someone is out to get you when you receive a doll in a condition you didn't think it would be in. Relax, just remember 9/10 times everyone (including paypal) sides with the buyer. Try to see if you can settle things civilly. Only when the seller is being uncooperative should you resort to a paypal claim (Or if you period of protection is ending). Speaking of Paypal, if you're reaching the end of your protection and nothing is happening: Open a claim. Explain what is happening (I don't have my doll yet, I have no communication from the seller, the doll is not in the condition described, etc). If it is a case of you not having the doll: You can always pay the seller when the doll arrives/after paypal decides in your favor to extend your protection.

      Trades: Oh gosh, this is -really- tricky territory and where most things go wrong. To be honest my way of thinking would be pretty easy. Both parties send an agreed upon amount to each other, the value of the items received. I myself probably wouldn't do a trade unless i could exchange in person...but I trust no one. Set a time frame for sending the dolls and if the other person does not send in the time frame open a paypal dispute on the money you sent them. They have an opportunity to provide shipping proof before paypal will award in anyone's favor.

      What a lot of people seem to forget to do when buying secondhand is "Research" look into the other person int he hobby, look into the doll and how it should look, search to see if the seller/buyer has any negative feedback associated with their name. If it feels a bit off, don't be afraid to say "no thanks."
       
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    4. Well, scamming is sensational because it is such a small hobby, so of course people will talk about it. I don't think it is so common as it might seem, but it doesn't hurt to be a little cautious. I personally have not had a bad transaction yet (knock on wood,) but I have kept to the DOA market, company's official websites and etsy stores. There are instances where some scammers have stolen thousands, and there really isn't anything to be done except keep track of pseudonyms and just be careful, especially on other sites.
      Here on DOA it would be harder to scam, since you can't have multiple accounts, need to make so many posts to gain marketplace access, and there are the feedback threads. I think most bad transactions here are mistakes or people having bad luck/situations and just not communicating about it or just not handling it well.

      I have to second @errinreynolds if you contact someone and anything feels off, it's ok to back out. If they are reasonable they will understand.

      TLDR; The scammer thing might be blown out of proportion, but it doesn't hurt to be careful because it has happened.
       
      • x 2
    5. You all bring really valid points to the discussion.

      On the topic of platforms for sales, it is true with the appearance of facebook groups where everyone basically can join (unless asked a few questions by a mod to confirm their interest in bjds and maybe feedback), scams are more likely to happen, and it can't be prevented that some yucky ducks join. Researching people is probably, like you say, the best, but what about new members of the community with no feedback or anything? Will their lack of time/experience in the hobby mark them as potential scammers just because they have no records of positive sales?

      When it comes to doing doll-for-doll trades, I just don't do them. Money as a security in those kind of deals is a good idea, but generally I don't like the thought of doing a doll-for-doll trade. I have heard too that that's where things usually go wrong, a doll may not be as expected and one of the traders might keep both, causing trouble.

      Backing out is generally viewed upon as "bad", in my opinion, unless you really have good excuses like the clothing/doll size not being correct or death in the family, I've seen long-time hobbyists complaining that people back out at the smallest suspicion of foul play. Do people back out more often now than earlier before? I've had to do it myself a few times and come up with excuses that I thought were ok and didn't sound rude, because that's the last thing I want to be when I find out my budget can't handle a layaway plan.

      I guess covering one's own side is the best way to ensure safety.
       
    6. I wouldn't think that backing out would be rude unless you have already agreed to buy/or asked a lot of the seller. If the price doesn't work for you, it just doesn't. It's hard to know the actual price until you know the shipping cost.
       
    7. Anytime a hobby starts attracting "real" money, profiteers will show up. I saw this in the wider doll collecting community. Once there was noticeable money being spent, there were more people at the doll shows obviously looking for money-making opportunities and not caring about what was for sale. Profiteering is disappointing, but predictable. Remember Beanie Babies?

      About fakes: Sellers will be under more suspicion now. Remember antique dolls costing several hundred dollars or more would be closely inspected and the buyer would demand a provenance. eBay allows recasts to be sold on its site despite multiple complaints. Yet it claims to be concerned about fakes and counterfeit goods. It's bewildering.

      I believe our hobby is evolving. (3D printing will be interesting to watch.) Whatever the future of our hobby is, it won't be boring.
       
      • x 2
    8. I think you're right. 3D printing is here to stay and a lot of companies are already using it as a means to create dolls and ease the sculpting process. I think it's really great and can't wait to see what happens as we go along and the technology evolves.
       
    9. As a sculptor, I have to toss out here that other than symmetry, and perhaps ease of resizing (if you don't get distortion which is common), I can promise you 3D sculpting and printing doesn't remotely ease the process at all! :lol: It's still incredibly difficult to do.
       
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    10. I think paranoia is higher now than it used to be, and part of the problem is misinformation. Telling newbies that if a doll doesn't have a box/CoA/sales receipt/etc, then it's fake is really bad for the secondhand market, as many older dolls and event dolls never had those things, it's easy to lose them over the years, and many people never kept purchase records as it just wasn't necessary until recently (PayPal only goes back...three years? I think?) If a doll was bought/traded in person, there will be no paper trail either. Likewise, if a full doll can be copied, so can a piece of paper. This is no guarantee of whether a doll is legit or not, and I think it's unfair to sellers to demand things that may never have existed.

      I think the best thing you can do is research the doll you're buying and know what it should be like (resin colors available, types of joints, if they're normally sanded or not, age, if it had a CoA or box originally and what kind, if it should have a headplate/stamp), research the seller and their reputation in the hobby (other than just their feedback thread, also search Problem Transactions for their name and Google it. If there is a Problem Transaction, read the whole thing and decide for yourself if you think it was warranted or not), always buy as Goods & Services, ask any questions first, request any additional photos you need and buy from reliable places. If you're the seller, be honest about everything. Don't lie about yellowing, damage, smoking/pet homes, or shipping times just to make the sale more appealing. Many people won't mind these things if they know from the start, and you'll avoid the buyers who do mind. You're a lot more likely to have serious issues if you're dishonest. Also, research your buyer. If they're known for drama, unnecessary complaining (calling out real problems is different) or have a lot of negative feedback, decline the sale. It's okay to refuse a sale, as long as you haven't already agreed to it.

      Sometimes, it does feel like people are almost paranoid about buying, and I think it's unfair to publicly call out scammers without adequate information, when it could very well be a misunderstanding, but you also do have to protect yourself. It's a fine line sometimes, and hard to tell whether someone is a true scammer or just a flaky or irresponsible seller. Where do you draw the line? Take for example, waiting 6 months to a year for a faceup, clothing or wig commission. Some people say that's fine because waiting for a doll can take that long. Others say that's completely unacceptable and the seller shouldn't take commissions if they can't finish in a reasonable time frame. Still others would be filing with PayPal after the first month and publicly calling them out as a scammer. It's kind of hard to tell if people are overly paranoid, when so many people have such wildly varying ideas of what should be excused or not.
       
      • x 1
    11. i have noticed this trend in most of my hobbies. honestly, people are getting away with more with very little condemnation just to get the sale. they even use the victim card to gain support all the while hazing the real victims. its not going unnoticed. globalization via social networking aka the internet is spreading the ilk as well as the good. people see others get away with bullshit and mimic them. crazy.