Beware the Fake Online Camera Stores!

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:

ShootPhotoMarket.com - Fake Online Store

ShootPhotoMarket.com - Fake Online Store

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.

www.shootmarket.com - Scam website targetting photographers

www.shootmarket.com - Scam website targeting photographers and filmmakers

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.

After further investigation, it is evident that they are indeed con artists. For example, their privacy policy. It had copied some other online camera shop’s privacy policy exactly. How do I know this? Well, they swapped out the original camera shop name with their own in all places except one. This clumsy move enabled me to look at the other site’s privacy policy and see it was identical in every way. Little things like, “Free Shipping on all Order over 100 Euro” (sic). Clumsy, amateur mistakes. Alas, not easily spotted when you have your heart set on a Canon 7D for 300 Euro less than it is elsewhere.

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!

Hybrids:

shootmarket.com
shootphotomarket.com
shootonlinemarket.com
shoot-store.com

30 Responses to “Beware the Fake Online Camera Stores!”

  1. I do agree with all of the ideas you have introduced on your post.
    They’re really convincing and will certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts are very short for newbies.
    May you please extend them a bit from next time?
    Thanks for the post.

    my page – יסתכל על פרטים נוספים

  2. boda madrid says:

    Great post. Thanks a lot.

  3. Ludo S. says:

    You Kris and DP review saved me a lot of money. Many thanks for that.

    My story in short.

    I was wondering about their free shipping offer, So I have send them below request by mail.

    Dear,

    I noticed some nice bargains on your website.
    I’m interesting in buying a body Canon 5D mark II or a body Canon 7 D.
    The body should be shipped to Belgium. Is your free shipping also valid for Belgium. ?
    If not… how much do I have to take in account.
    Is it also possible that we collect our order at your store in London ?

    Kind regards

    Ludo S.

    Their reply almost convinced me to place an order (See below)but the sentence between differences in prices at the stores versus shipping looked a bit strange.

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    Yes, shipping is free to Belgium.

    Please note that we have different prices and stock in our London store.
    Our sale offer is for delivery only.

    If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

    Sincerely,

    Paul Nevels
    Sales Manager

    Shoot Photography Ltd
    2nd Floor
    145-147 St John Street
    London, EC1V 4PY
    United Kingdom

    Company No. 06971054

    Phone: 0845-2996-057
    Email: mail@shootmarket.com
    ———————————-

    While googling further for some references I ended up on the DP review site. Lucky me.
    They seem quiet professional gangsters and unfortunatly, even today still on the Web.

    Thanks again and hopefully all other people will find out before they are robbed.

    Ludo S.

  4. DokH says:

    Just came over from DPReview thread on this scam.
    Clicked on the Google add out of curiosity whilst at another photography related site and all the my alarm bells went off.
    the got at DPReview thread about it.
    Seems they are still around and advertising thru Google.
    Just now at DPReview, Google ads showed another hybrid:
    Shoot-Cams.net
    Should be Shoot-Scams.net :-)

  5. US says:

    Unfortunately too late for me… And in Germany we haven´t any chance to get the money back from the bank. The police is informed, but there aren´t any good chances.

    I´ve informed Nikon, Canon etc that shootmarket.com is abusing their company logos. They care about it! Nikon
    doesn´t find it funny and will investigate… Maybe! Do the same and inform Nikon etc. about the abuse! The big player…

    Sorry for my english ;-)

    Have a good time and take care!

  6. Eddit says:

    Hi.

    Unlucky one of my best friends purchased from this site. Unfortunately she didn’t know what to look for when it came to fraud and ended up making a wire transfer to the “companies” bank. A lot of money down the drain.

    A lot of the official pages are ripped from BristolCameras.co.uk eg the privacy page, just search for Bristol and you’ll see what I mean. The source IP for the emails is from Venezuela, but showing a Business address of London, and a company number of a company which is actually under closure.

    Great post though. Shame site can’t be monitored for fraud rather than just word of mouth.

    Lets just hope these petty thieves get what karma brings there way and makes their life highly unbearable.

    Thakns

    Eddit

  7. ss says:

    lost 800euros, too late ;(

  8. George G says:

    thank you for saving me 2000euros!!!!!

    i’ll let the people now about it

  9. Stef Marty says:

    Gosh, it’s still on line… How many people will lose money into this ?!!!

  10. laura says:

    Hi,

    I was today about to buy Eos 5DMark II from Shoot-market, but I got suspicious at the large verge. I already was in the process of making an order and in order to give it the final blessing by pressing the ‘accept this’ button. But there was no such button, and the order flew into the net space by itself, and soon I got confirmance e-mails for the Shootmarket that the order has been taken and please pay to this bank account. No Pay-Pal nor alike system of payment. Well, I have not payed nor will, thanks to this website discussion.

  11. fdfgds says:

    this just happened to me i wish i read it earlier

  12. panos says:

    I feel so bad for ALL the people that have been…and will be loosing money…
    I consider my self experienced in internet but with this fake-store…I got to the point to fill in my details…and select bank tranfer ….then I looked fro reviews and opinions about it…..then I got in here…

    thanks for the info…
    I was quite close to loose money…

    (I just cant get…WHY GOOGLE promote those sites…)

  13. Diederik says:

    Thank a milion. It’s easy to be tempted initially. I was glad I was able to find your review. The most-true phrase here was “if it sound to good to be true, it usually is”. Phrase don’t become cliché for no reason. If you live in Belgium or The Netherlands, please also check out http://www.kamera-express.nl. This is a store which not only has a valid address, but also an actual phycisal store there. I’ve made several purchases there. They currently offer 7D @ 1199 Euro (today 1022 GBP). I don’t think it’s worth the drive from UK, but 137 GBP it’s an easy 127 GBP save compared to the above-mentioned http://www.camerapricebuster.co.uk/.

    Again, thanks so much for you review!

  14. Aaron says:

    Well let me just say THANK YOU!!!!!!!

    I was moments away from making my own grave mistake!

    indeed if it’s too good to be true it almost always is

    thanks again

  15. photolady says:

    Hi there,
    I ordered two cameras on this webpage and already I have done full payment… :(
    I am from Hungary, could you please help me whom to contact?
    hope to hear from you soon.

    • Cyana says:

      This is what I did (and it worked):

      – Call your bank IMMEDIATLY. Tell them that the store is highly suspicious and you want to cancel the transfer. Even when the transfer is already in progress, they can contact the target bank and ask for cancellation.

      – Go to the police. Involving the authorities makes your claim more urgent and believable. It will help your bank to negotiate with the target institute (NatWest, in my case)

      – Contact the target bank, and explain your case to them. Also, announce them that your bank is already informed and will contact them in the next hours. Tell them also, that the police is informed, too.

      In my case, my transfer will be rolled back and I have got the confirmation today that the money will be back in the oncoming week. I did my payment on 14th, and became aware of the scam on 15th, about 12 hours later.

      hth & good luck
      greetings
      cyana

  16. Richard says:

    I wanted to add some extra information how to verify if the company is existing or not.
    Online stores usually have to provide their company registration number and the VAT registration number. Both numbers can be checked online if they exist. That can provide some orientation but of course it’s no guarantee that it is a serious business.

    IES VAT number validation:

    http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/vies/vieshome.do?selectedLanguage=EN

    Company registration check (I couldn’t find a direct URL):

    http://wck2.companieshouse.gov.uk/598bbfe967db6ea79ea027340a0f222e/wcframe?name=accessCompanyInfo

    • Kris Koster says:

      Thanks Richard, for that information.

      The trouble is, that in the UK it is very easy to register a company with fake data. The legitimacy of a company doesn’t really come into play until the first set of accounts where it is scrutinised more closely. On this occasion, there was enough information to confirm that the company is acting fraudulently and judging by the amount of emails I have received from ‘customers’ who have never received orders from them – I’m afraid it all points to a confirmed assertion. Many thanks for that useful info.

      • Jon says:

        Is that why these scamsites seem to pop up in Brittain? There was another one selling ridiculously cheap gear a year ago or so. All was fine until you tried to order and then you had to pay by direct money transfer if you were outside the UK. As it happened the site just hung if you tried to pay by credit card with an UK address…

  17. Too late says:

    I feel so stupid…I made the big mistake and I have ordered a camera from them. Does anybody have any suggestion for me in order to get money back?…Do you think is there anything I can do?
    thanks

    • Kris Koster says:

      Don’t feel stupid, these guys are clever and their system is designed to catch you out. You need to contact your bank immediately and ask them if it’s not too late, to retrieve the payment. You can try talking to the police about this. If they can’t help to retrieve your money, at least they may be able to shut the website down faster.

      In the future, always remember to check out an online retailer before you buy from them. At the very least, do a search on them to get a review of their service. Afterall, if their offers are that good, there will be plenty of glowing praise from other satisfied customers.

      • Cyana says:

        Same for me – I’ve called my bank immediatly and they will retrieve the payment.

        The really nasty thing is that this site was (and is still !!!) linked by Amazon ! I normally do not order at alien sites, even when they look that professional. However when the link comes from Amazon you would think they do a scam check before they put a link on their page.

  18. Great point, I’d like to subscribe, but I can’t find the RSS button, what gives?

    • Kris Koster says:

      Sorry, the new site has been up only a couple of weeks! RSS Subscribe now added! Thank you for telling me about this. Much appreciated!

  19. Great information. Thanks a lot!

  20. Bayilik says:

    I follow up your blog since a agelong time. I am very comprehended to scan your quality content. But your website is starting slower according to bypast week. Has your site difficulty or Is my connection is bad?

    • Kris Koster says:

      Hi and thank you… Can I ask if you are using the translation tool on the right to read the blog? I know that sometimes the translation tool can make the site slower. I seems okay on my side, but I will look into it and run some tests. Thank you for letting me know, I’m grateful for the time you took to tell me.

      -Kris

  21. JoshO says:

    I bet they make 1000s before the site gets taken down. It’s still there tonight!

    • Kris Koster says:

      It will be there for weeks, Josh. I remember another similar photography ‘store’ called digitsys a few months ago- very similar. I just feel for the poor folk who lose all their money chasing a bargain that doesn’t exist.

      -Kris

  22. Kris Koster says:

    Hi Nicholas. Yep, it’s a WordPress site alright. The theme I’m using here is adapted a little from the original but it’s called eVid v1.7 and is available from here: http://www.elegantthemes.com/

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