I got scammed! Yes, it’s true. I, like many others online have fallen victim to an online scam. Hopefully after this post you won’t fall victim to the same scam. It’s a clever little scam too (with a company called Inightcore), and I’ll be telling you about it, how it works and how it ended with me losing my money and PayPal siding with the scammer.
It all started on the 2nd August 2020, I was browsing some Facebook marketplace adverts (I find them amusing) and an advert popped up for a Cicret projection bracelet. I’ll paste the YouTube advert video below.
As you can, it’s a very impressive product, and for a tech loving person such as me an absolute must-buy product. I later found out the Cicret bracelet is in fact a concept product idea from 2014. It never took off as the technology wasn’t (and probably still isn’t) a possibility at the time. But for those few minutes of watching that video, I wanted one, who wouldn’t?
The Facebook advert linked to an online ecommerce store called Inightcore (not to be confused with a similarly named trusted company). The website is now no longer active.
The Inightcore website looked very professional, there was multiple items available, everything from projection bracelets to chainsaws, all at heavily reduced prices. Nothing looked dodgy at this stage. In fact, there was many trusting statements on the websites and along with ‘customer reviews’ it all looked above board. Later I’d find out these reviews were in fact fake and part of the whole scam. They even had a money back guarantee!
I placed my order for the Smart Bluetooth Bracelet in black. Re-read that last sentence again. This is part of the scam. I was placing an order for my projection bracelet, but in fact the item description changed at the checkout to Smart Bluetooth Bracelet.
I wasn’t aware of this change of product description and paid $19.99 for the product and $5.99 shipping to the UK. I’ve paid in USD before and again nothing seemed amiss. I paid with my PayPal account and the transaction was recorded as a goods/services transaction. A couple of weeks passed and eventually my package turned up. I opened the package and was horrified to receive a cheap, nasty, generic Bluetooth fitness tracker.
I sent an email to Inightcore, as it this stage I presumed they had simply made a mistake and sent an incorrect item. I was naive at this point to assume that they would respond, apologise and send me the correct item. After a few days I hadn’t gotten a response (no surprises now). So, I sent them a Facebook Messenger message, they never read it and now their Facebook account is no longer active too.
But as I paid via PayPal, I knew I would be safe and would get my money back as I had received something different to what I had ordered. Or so I thought! The next few parts involve PayPal.
I opened a PayPal dispute on the 19th August 2020 on this dispute I gave PayPal the website page link where the projection bracelet was still listed for sale. I also sent them an image of the cheapy Bluetooth bracelet that I had received. The PayPal system then informed me that a request was active, and I’d hear back from the seller, and that I can escalate my request to a PayPal claim before the 8th September 2020.
On the 4th September 2020 I received a reminder PayPal message to escalate my request to a claim. I then proceeded to do this.
The seller (scammer) then had until the 14th September 2020 to resolve this issue with me. At this stage I thought I’d be safe in the knowledge that PayPal would protect me. How wrong I was!
On the 14th September 2020 at 08:04am PayPal informed me that they were reviewing the case, at 08:24am the seller (scammer) responded to the PayPal case, offering a partial refund of $10.00 USD. This was a clever tactic, who would accept this? certainly not me, I wanted my money back, and in full!
So, I declined and informed the system that I wanted my money back in full. I’ve come to understand this partial refund offer is a delay tactic, as the seller (scammer) now had more time to ‘resolve’ my issue.
On the 5th October 2020 (47 days after my initial request) PayPal wanted some more information. I checked the information, and they wanted more information regarding what had happened. This information I had to give to them within 3 days or I’d lose my case. This is an absolute joke, as so far, they’d allowed the seller (scammer) to drag this out for 47 days, but now I had 3 days.
The information they wanted was already what I had submitted, they wanted to know with photographic evidence what I received and how I’d like this issue to be resolved. As I had already submitted this information to the case I replied with the following “Please refund me my purchase money.”
On the 9th October 2020, my claim for a refund was denied. The reason provided by PayPal was that I hadn’t responded with supporting evidence. I think what I should’ve done was not submit too much information at the beginning of the process or to resubmit the same evidence again. Either way the whole resolution process was far too long, confusing and one-sided to the seller (scammer).
There’s no appeal process either, I messaged PayPal on Twitter and received a generic response and haven’t heard from them since.
I then did some digging, the seller (scammer) had a PayPal email address (I won’t display this as I’d be breaking some laws). I Google searched this email address and there’re forums on the internet warning people against using this seller. One of the forums originated from the PayPal website where hundreds of victims had been scammed!
You couldn’t make it up, PayPal must’ve received hundreds if not thousands of complaints regarding this seller (scammer).
I also found out Inightcore was shut down a day or so before I lost my PayPal case, so the scammer dragged it out to the point of maximising his scam. Others fell victim to Inightcore too, not just for the projection bracelet, but for other items too.
One website claimed Inightcore made $15,000USD before shutting down.
It also turns out the scammer’s email address has been associated with multiple website domains, some active, some closed and some not yet set up for the next scam. But all with the same PayPal email address.
I got scammed! There’s no nice way of putting it, it’s an awful feeling to know that you’ve fallen victim to an online scam. Usually I can spot a scam a mile off. But I suppose I was suckered in with what looked like a cool gadget.
To recap how the scam works.
- You place an order for your item.
- Checkout item description is different.
- You receive an item (which is also tracked so the scammer can prove delivery).
- They await to hear from you.
- They won’t respond.
- You’ll escalate it to PayPal.
- They still won’t respond (buying more time)
- You’ll then escalate the request to a claim.
- Then they’ll respond with another delay tactic of offering you a partial refund.
- Naturally, you’ll reject this offer.
- Case continues.
- PayPal get involved.
- Scammer wins.
Quite sophisticated and probably well perfected over time. It’s probably happening right now, under a different website, but will follow the same process.
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