I went online this morning, looking for the best deal on a 7D or 550D/T2i. (By the way, one of the best online sites I recommend for looking for best deals (for the UK) is Camera Price Buster). Should your general online search elsewhere reveal bargains for cameras, lenses or equipment – Be very wary. If something looks too good to be true, it usually is.
With so much variety and hundreds of places to compare and shop, it’s easy to fall prey to buying from online conmen. Their websites look just like the real thing and the psychology of many customers like you or me who have been searching for that all-elusive bargain is to buy on the spot before the offer has vanished. The online swindlers know this and pitch their prices at a level that doesn’t twig suspicion. Rather, we think that a limited time special promotion is on offer.
This morning, whilst looking for reviews, my simple Google search for ‘Canon 7D‘ dredged up this:
Note the sponsored link to shootphotomarket.com at the very top of the Google search. Click on this link as of today and you will be whisked away to a very professional looking online shopping store.
On the site I found a Canon 7D (body only) on offer for 899 Euro (1,140 USD; 738 UKP). A brand new 550D/T2i was ‘on sale’ for 499 Euro (633 USD; 410 UKP). Superb prices if you compare them to the standard prices available from my favourite camera equipment comparison website. The best deal on a Canon 7D body is apparently from Amazon.co.uk at a cost of £1163.96 (1,799 USD; 1,418 Euro. That is some saving and many people may be tempted to leap into an on-the-spot decision without putting any further thought into it.
I’ll hold my hands up and tell you I was suckered for a while. I’m not generally a naive person, but everything appeared legitimate. The website had a physical store address in London, UK which had a posh postcode. It had telephone numbers, it had different email addresses for different departments. The site was well designed. Even my email queries were answered quickly and professionally.
I took my purchase to the online checkout. It wanted to register me as a customer, took my address details, what type of delivery I wanted, etc. Then, when I went to pay, I had my credit card ready. I clicked on, ‘Pay by Credit Card’ and it instantly added 17.5% of the cost of my order to the total. This puzzled me tremendously. Why was it penalising me to a degree of 17.5% of my order just to pay by credit card? Another option there was ‘Direct Bank Transfer’ – If you selected this, there was no surcharge. Simply directly transfer your money to their bank and the item would be delivered by ‘DHL Express’ …
At this point, my suspicions were aroused. Why do they encourage me to pay by direct bank transfer? By the way, never, ever, EVER pay for anything by direct bank transfer. Especially to an unknown online store. Credit card payments do offer you some protection should the goods not arrive.
The scammers get cleverer every year. Making it a very good deal is better than making it so ridiculously cheap it would arouse suspicion immediately. Creating a professional website with an online store is very easy to do these days. A new web address can be registered in a matter of moments. Furthermore, a template website with online shopping cart can be purchased for small change in today’s world. What might take time is filling it with content, although I am sure there must be speedy ways around this also. Their website is controlled by a server in Siauliu Apskritis, Lithuania where it is more difficult to remove their website quickly. Don’t be fooled and look the website up in a Google search. There will be others besides you looking for a review and there will be others who have already been scammed by the same site you are about to entrust with your hard-earned cash!