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How to Avoid Scams, Middle-Men, and Fraud on Alibaba

If you’ve been taking action on the previous importing articles, you already know that Alibaba is the world’s biggest B2B marketplace. In fact, it may be a little too big…

There are millions of suppliers listing millions of products on Alibaba. Finding suppliers is easy, the hard part is selecting the right one.

The most dangerous obstacle in your path to the perfect supplier are the ocean of scammers and middle-men.

Luckily, it’s not too difficult to avoid these low lives.

Below, you’ll find a step-by-step guide on avoiding scams, middle-men, and fraud on Alibaba.

Step 1 – Review the Company Profile

Company Profile

The Company Profile consists of information both verified and unverified  by For an untrained eye, this short list of information might seem to be completely irrelevant to the purpose of the visit, which is to find the right products. However, you can get a good idea about whether this company is worthy to include in your sourcing process by analyzing the points listed below:

Company name



(Note – Applies to companies registered in Mainland China only)

  • City: Small and medium-sized companies have the city they are located in as part of their company name. For example, “Ningbo Everbright Trading Co., Limited”.

  • Province: Larger companies can be named after the province where they are located. For example “Zhejiang Everbright Trading Co., Limited”.

Business Type


  • Manufacturer: This indicates that the supplier is only selling products it manufactures. A manufacturer is limited by its production line, set-up and tooling. For this reason, manufacturers tend to be highly specialized in their field of products.

  • Trading Company: Some Trading Companies are independent while others own, or are owned by, a manufacturing company. While everybody wants to cut out the middleman, one has to keep in mind that many factories in Asia have neither the knowledge nor resources for exporting their produce. This function can then be filled by a Trading Company. On the other hand, some Trading Companies offer no added value and will only raise your costs.

  • Manufacturer & Trading Company: Many factories have expanded their operation by not only selling and marketing products made in their own facilities, but also by trading similar products manufactured by other factories. While this Business Type indicates that the company is indeed a manufacturer, you cannot be sure whether they are manufacturing or subcontracting your products. So it’s tough to be sure if this supplier is a good choice or not.

Management Certification


Quality issues is a serious risk when importing from China. In fact, you’re more likely to lose money due to quality issues then getting scammed. Quality issues can  never be completely eliminated, but they can be minimized if the supplier applies a Quality Management System (QMS) such as ISO9001.

  • Even multinationals such as Boeing and Toyota have quality issues. A “good manufacturer” is not a manufacturer that is completely free of quality issues, but one that is continuously monitoring quality during production. You know it’s time to walk away from a Chinese supplier when they claim to be completely free of defective and damaged products.

  • When a defective product is discovered, the supplier should have a routine for how it should be managed. Some suppliers remake, others repair. The most important thing is not how they deal with defective products, but that their employees know exactly what do to when something goes wrong.

  • ISO compliance require more than having a quick check up before the products are packed and shipped. The supplier is required to inspect incoming raw materials and components before production, set up inspection stations during productions and do final inspections after production.

  • Some products require stricter quality assurance than others. These products have a low error tolerance and a mistake at one production stage can ruin a whole order. If you are importing “complex products” such as electronics or mechanical equipment, a Management Certification should be a basic supplier requirement.

Registered Address


  • City, Province: Many cities in China are highly specialized in one or more industries. If you are sourcing consumer electronics for example, you will discover that Shenzhen, Guangdong, is very dominant. A manufacturer is dependent on the surrounding support industries such as logistics, component suppliers, raw material suppliers and labor. For this reason, a supplier that is based in an industrial cluster is likely to be more competitive than a supplier that is not.

Legal Representative

Legal-RepresentativeThe Legal Representative is the only employee who can sign agreements on behalf of the company. Make sure that he or she writes a signature on any Invoice or Sales Agreement, along with the company stamp.

Registered capital


  • Indication of company size: Companies with less than RMB 500.000 [around US$ 80,000] should be avoided if possible. This is the strongest indicator of the supplier’s scale of operations. The more capital they have, the more likely they are to care about their reputation. Also keep in mind that even the most reliable supplier cannot compensate you for defective or damaged products if they don’t have the resources (money) to do so.

  • Foreign Currency Capital: Indicates that the company have foreign investors, which usually is a mark of quality. The currency invested can also give a hint about where the investor comes from;
    • Hong Kong Dollar (HKD) indicates that the investors are from Hong Kong. These guys has been exposed to international trade since the place was founded by the Brits back in the 19th century.
    • United States Dollars (USD) indicates that the foreign investors are… well, foreign. European, Asian and Latin American investors also tend to stick to the dollar for their investments in Chinese companies.
    • Taiwan New Dollar (TWD)

Step 2 – Review Other Company Certifications

First, why this is important…

Some products need to be compliant with a predetermined national and/or market standard. Different standards apply to different products, and it’s always the buyer’s responsibility to ensure that the imported products are compliant. Most products won’t require this; but if you’re thinking about buying a product in bulk, you might want to research and make sure.

The “Other Certification” link can be found under “Company Certification”.

Certification compliance is not mandatory for Alibaba suppliers, so don’t be surprised if many suppliers don’t have any “Other Certification” page at all.

Key Facts

  • Compliance requires more than testing; products need to be produced with specific materials and components. If you don’t clearly specify that your products must comply with a certain standard before you place the order, the products will not be compliant.

  • Far from all suppliers in Asia have the knowledge about which and where certain product standards apply, even less have the capability to actually manufacture products that comply with European and/or North American product standards.

  • Many suppliers seldom update their Company Profiles. If you have a hard time to find suppliers with the right certification listed in the “Other Certification” page, then send out a message and ask them directly whether or not they can comply with the required certification standard. It’s quite common that suppliers can offer more than what’s shown in their Alibaba profile.

  • An easy way to find compliant products is to type in the Product name and the certification standard in the Alibaba product search. [E.G. Mp4 player + CE]

Action List

  1. Research which product standard is required for your product in your country and/or market.

  2. Review the “Other Certification” page.

  3. Are any of the product standards listed?
    – If not, review the product description and the company introduction. Some suppliers that have test reports available are not uploading them to the “Other Certification Page”.

Step 3 – Review Supplier’s Product Selection/Niche

There has been a lot of focus on paperwork in this article, but what you’re looking for is products.

An Alibaba suppliers product catalog can give you a lot of information, and it’s the most important factor when selecting a supplier. The golden rule is to find a supplier that is specialized in manufacturing or trading a certain product. Product specialization comes with a number of benefits that will have a large impact on your business.


Is your product mentioned in the supplier’s company name?

This is a strong indication that the company was registered for the sole purpose of manufacturing the product you are sourcing. [E.G. Shenzhen Golden Watch Factory Co., Ltd].

Is your product making up the majority of the supplier’s product catalog on

It’s a strong indication that the supplier is highly specialized in manufacturing and/or trading the products you are searching. A supplier that is highly specialized in a certain product is more likely to be better at managing the quality standard and offer more customization options. It can also affect the pricing since they buy large volumes of materials, components and tooling that is used only for the manufacturing of your product.

You’ll also want to grow with your supplier and a supplier with only a limited product selection will prevent this from happening.

Is the supplier listing products that are completely different from the type you’re looking for? [e.g. Wrist Watches and iPhone cases]

The factories of the real world are not like Santa’s Workshop where anything imaginable is manufactured. You can’t use the same workforce or tooling for the manufacturing of both 3D Printers and Polyester Ties. This matters because you should not deal with a disorganized and opportunistic supplier selling a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

An “opportunistic” supplier is also more likely to discontinue products than a professional manufacturer. The result could be disastrous since you’re left without products to sell to your customers. This is especially dangerous if you’re selling products to retailers where reputation and reliability is everything.

How to use the Alibaba supplier search to identify specialized suppliers


Last year introduced the suppliers search, a useful feature for finding highly specialized and professional manufacturers. In the beginning, all it did was presenting a list of suppliers with the product in the company  name. Now, it also searches the suppliers product catalog and shows the number of matching products each supplier have!

  1. Go to

  2. Change the search box from “Products” to Suppliers

  3. Enter the product name and search

  4. Now you will get a long list of all suppliers selling the product you just searched for. This can save time when sourcing suppliers since you can skip the manual review of the product catalog.

Case Study


Guangzhou Guanghao Watch Co., Ltd is manufacturing and exporting LED watches. That’s in fact the only thing they do since they have listed 900 different models. When you work with this company, you can be sure about the following:

  • All this supplier will ever care about is wristwatches, and certainly LED watches. They will develop new models and your company can grow your product selection together with Guangzhou Guanghao.

  • 900 different models equals hundreds of thousands of different components. This supplier certainly know how these things work, and more importantly – what doesn’t work. Perhaps not today, but in the future you might want to create your own product its own unique design and features.


You’ll always be limited by the components and product knowledge a supplier can provide you with. If you would choose Xiamen Well Imp & Exp Co., Ltd**as your supplier, you will be very limited. They offer a staggering amount of 6 different LED watches to choose from. Then how can they be competitive? Why do they even bother to add a few watches on Alibaba when articles like this one clearly states that importers should stay away from these suppliers? Because few importers bother to read articles like this, thousands of importers fall for the trick of low prices and positive answers to every question. Don’t be one of these guys that think they’ve are smarter than everybody else – until they realize they just got what they paid for.

* We have no relation with Guangzhou Guanghao Watch Co., Ltd and they are mentioned for reference only. They do however have a nice selection of LED watches.

** We have no relation with Xiamen Well Imp & Exp Co., Ltd and they are mentioned for reference only. They are probably a great supplier, but maybe not for LED watches.

Any other questions?

Feel free to comment if I’ve left anything unanswered!

by Fredrik Grönkvist

Fredrik Grönkvist is the Co-Founder and Limited Partner of, a Shanghai based information services company who provides startups and small businesses with an online system for managing sourcing and production in China and other Asian countries. Connect with Fredrik Grönkvist on Google+

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158 comments… add one

  1. Super solid post, Fredrik! Glad the bros have a real expert to help avoid some serious importing problems!

    1. Definitely! I’m just glad Fredrik emailed me. I didn’t even know most of this info!

  2. Heck yes! Fredrik rocked it

  3. The advice about checking their registered capital (and looking for RMB 500,000+) is solid. I almost bought from a supplier, until I saw they have less money in the bank than I do! And I’m not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination (yet).

    1. Good to hear this article could help in a real way Odai! Definitely not a good sign :)

      Good luck in finding a better one…

    2. Be aware that the registered capital does not indicate how much total capital a company has. It’s just the amount of capital that they chose to officially register during the registration process. They may well have other capital besides that, especially if they registered some time ago.

      1. Thanks for the heads up!

  4. Gosh darnnit. . .I love your articles! That is all.

    1. Fredrik, have you ever thought of providing a vetting service? e.g, if I identify a few companies that stock the product I need, but don’t have the time / confidence to vet them myself, I’d pay you for the service. Would be great to know there was a legit agent to negotialte the minefield.

      1. Hello Lucy,

        I’ve been working as a sourcing agent in China for more than 4 years. However, we are very busy at the moment. If you’d like I could still recommend a few American and European owned sourcing companies.

        1. Hi Frederick do you still work as a sourcing agent ??

        2. Hi Fredrik,

          Not sure if you still check this. But, can you email me some reliable textiles Chinese mfg?

    2. Haha – thanks Joanne! Glad they could help 😀

  5. Howdy! Would you mind if I share your blog with my facebook group?
    There’s a lot of folks that I think would really appreciate your content. Please let me know. Many thanks

    1. Of course!! Curious – what is the group?

  6. Wow, this was a really nice post.
    I wonder if this same applies for aliexpress

    1. Glad you liked it Fawad – I think it would be the same on AliExpress. Most of the people on AliExpress are also selling to Alibaba, so I’d imagine the same would apply. Hope this helps!

      1. Sorry it took me some time to get back to this post, it’s been a busy year to say the least!

        Aliexpress is different since it doesnt provide much information about the company you’re purchasing from. However, unlike you can get a pretty good idea about the supplier based on the feedback from other buyers.

        1. Great to hear you’ve had a good year Fredrik :)

        2. Fredric man I just found u…Awsome articals.. sir I got scamed for over 2000 bucks buying 10ft long charging cords and power banks and anti dust plug phone jewelry..I am out of time now to do a bunch of investigating.. can. You PLEASE sir recomend a supplier or suppliers that can offer me 10f long phone charge cords all makes.nd power banks and phone jewelry. Thank u so email is. [email protected]

  7. I do trust all the concepts you have offered to your post.
    They are really convincing and can definitely work.

    Still, the posts are too quick for novices. May just you please extend them a bit from subsequent time?
    Thank you for the post.

  8. Hi
    Thanks for this article. Could you explain about gold membership, assessed suppliers, escrow and other buyer protection solutions?

    1. Hello!

      I don’t have time to answer all those questions (would pretty much require me to write another 1000 words), but I’ll explain Gold Suppliers.

      A Gold Supplier is a membership and where Alibaba makes most of their money. It’s for Alibaba what Adwords is for Google basically.

      Alibaba makes a basic review of the Chinese supplier that applies to become a Gold Supplier. This is the data described in this article. In return the supplier gets a Golden Badge to put on their company site. The only thing you can tell from the golden badge itself is that the supplier is a legally registered company in China. It says nothing about product certification compliance or the overall quality of their products.

      1. Thanks

  9. I wish I had read this, and other sites before dealining with Shenzhen Umei Electronic, which runs a site at I purchase quite a few items from China and have never had any problems. However, I was recently approached by Elva ([email protected]) in regards to micro SD cards. I ended up purshasing some cards from them, which turned out to be a bad decision. The cards were supposed to be 4GB microSD, and in windows properties they should that capacity. However, when you go over 114MB of data, they fail and lose the data. They have completely ignored my emails and calls after they scammed me. I suggest you do not pruchase anything from them because once they get your money, the product is a fake, and you’ll never hear from them again and they never answer the phone, no matter what time of day you call.

    1. Don’t expect to here anything from these scammers again. Among all the scam infested industries, I’d say that electronics is the worst. While China is #1 for electronics assembly, importing electronics requires a very sophisticated manufacturer. Not a low end trader buying and selling products intended for the domestic Chinese market.

      You’re lucky though. If you would have started a business importing and selling these products, which are not in compliance with US or EU product certification regulations, you would’ve been liable for any personal or property damage caused by the product. (the insurance company would sue you)

      Stay away from electronics unless you have very clear product specifications and a well defined product concept. You also need to ensure that the supplier you’re buying from has the required certification documents and implement a quality assurance process.

      1. Hi
        How can i know US or EU product certification to take it as a reference for good quality product for example if i want to buy bar code reader whats the certification i must ask for?

        1. CE and RoHS for the EU and probably FCC for the USA. There may be additional standards required in the US, I’ll have to make some research on this.

          There are plans in the US and EU to settle on one set of standards sometime within this decade. This will certainly help a lot.

          1. Thank you.
            You know maybe there is other some for electronics and others for auto parts, etc. maybe i will try to search.

    2. Thanks for the heads-up on this.

  10. Hi ! Good article. I can add that you go to the original web page, not the alibaba. There you might find the termination dot cn, like That indicates that the company is real Chinese. Then pick product images and google image them. You might find really nice info following the threads of images. Right, my contribution. Now, I would like to ask how can I investigate commercial information to find the supplier of a certain company. Like accounting tax declarations. I am sure my supplier does not manufacture a product, so it comes it has to be buying somewhere. I am sure that information is submitted to their Tax organism. How can I reach that? These supplier is in Taiwan.

  11. We absolutely love your blog and find most of your post’s to be exactly I’m looking for.
    Do you offer guest writers to write content for you
    personally? I wouldn’t mind composing a post or elaborating on a few of the subjects you write regarding here.

    Again, awesome blog!

  12. I am looking to purchase 2 LED Message Billboards from China. 13′ Tall X 30′ wide, full color. Anyone know of a great company to deal with or of any bad ones to stay away from???

    1. Hello Dan,

      I can’t give away supplier references here, but I suggest that you read our article on LED screens:

      1. Hello Fredrik, you seem knowledgeable, what exactly do you do for china portal or are you the owner.

  13. Thank you, but can you please give me best website to buy electronics.

  14. Excellent post!!!

  15. Hi, i’ve been chatting with a supplier about my chosen product. I’ve checked out their factory online, looked at all the certificates etc and they are a gold supplier. They seem legit however when it came to the email address i had to give to make a paypal transaction for the freight of the sample they gave a ‘gmail’ address. I was just a bit skeptical about a company using a free email program. Am i just being prude? or should i be concerned… thanks!

    1. Hey, I was wondering the same thing about the email and paypal account email. the company im dealing with has personalized emails to contact me with the company name at the end Ex: example@company but their paypal is registered with a hotmail. Did you ever figure out if they were legit?

      Best regards,

      1. that is because many suppliers use their boss’s private email address to apply the paypal is common for the suppliers in china.

  16. Good day all,

    It was several years ago that i got scammed by one of the gold suppliers from alibaba, i sent money with W/U and then never got items or my money back and they never replied my messages any more.

    So i learned my lesson, about dealing with dishonest people.

    I was excited about my “new business” idea and wanted to believe in good prices. I later found out more about the electronics market, and how those prices at alibaba website dont exist.

    However i do see there is a great potential for a website like this.

    Back when this happen to me i was living in Montreal Canada, now a few years later due to my job. Im now located in Bangkok, Thailand.

    So i immediately thought about Alibaba, that now i can be a supplier and deal with real people wanting to start their own business, and i can be their provider.

    So i opened my account. As a seller, and users from the site believe that just because they are Gold Suppliers, with the verified logo on them, they are safe (which is not the case).

    So i decided to pay and apply for my Gold status i payed $399 usd for the initial fee & verification process.

    After now 3 months with emails back and forward, i still dont have my status as gold supplier, and i didnt get my refund either.

    I provided more than enough information about my company which is legally registered, together with a notary letter witnessed by a lawyer assigned by the government, copy of my 2 official IDs, the company registered address, a phone and billing statement with the same address under my company’s name and my bank account.

    They said that because the notary letter is not written on a specific format they can not validate my company.

    (So my official ID, an official stamped notary letter, witnessed by a lawyer, billing statement, legal registered company name etc. is not valid at all for them)

    They just sent me a supposed confirmation transfer from their HSBC account, where it doesnt even have my bank account details.

    So, the website and its sellers its all a Scam, such a shame because, it has really a good potential if they were legit.

    I am leaving my contact information if anybody is interested in making business.
    I am looking to take advantage of my position now that im located in Thailand, and merchandise prices are cheaper than in other markets around the world.

    I accept paypal and credit card payments, i also have an ebay account.

    So if you are interested please contact me.

    I wish you good luck with your business.



    1. Please can you give me your email addresse so that we can talk

      1. Reply
      2. Reply
    2. Hi…im brand new as a reseller…and scared to death to lose my hard earned money…would you mind to contact me sometime and talk?…I would like to find someone i can trust for long term relationship…..Im doing well in ebay…im currently a power seller and top rated plus account holder due to my sales volume and customer service….my US source has left me in the dust and i need someone who i can trust and source for me…..would you be interested?…..Im game for any ideas and any kind of merchandise …thanks so much!!

      1. Reply
    3. Hi Sebastian,
      Do you still trade in BKK atm or have you gone back home ?
      I was reading your remarks on gold alibaba membership issues wanted to ask if your trading still

      1. Reply
    4. I would like to know more. And what do you sale. Thank you

      1. Reply
    5. What is your private email address so I can contact you ? Thanks

    6. hi sebastian..
      can you check me at

  17. Good day all,

    Alibaba is all a Scam, as well as their sellers.

    It was several years ago that i got scammed by one of the gold suppliers from alibaba, i sent money with W/U and then never got items or my money back and they never replied my messages any more.

    So i learned my lesson about dealing with dishonest people. I was so ready to start my own business, that i landed at a vulnerable state of believing what i was being told.

    However i do see there is a great potential for a website like this.

    Back when this happen to me i was living in Montreal Canada, now a few years later due to my job. Im now located in Bangkok, Thailand.

    So i immediately thought about Alibaba, that now i can be a supplier and deal with real people wanting to start their own business, and i can be their provider.

    So i opened my account. As a seller, and users from the site believe that just because they are Gold Suppliers they are safe (which is not the case). They set their parameters so that only Gold Suppliers can contact them.

    I decided to pay and apply for my Gold status i payed $499 usd for the initial “verification” fee.

    Now after 5 months with emails back and forward, i still dont have my status as gold supplier.

    I provided more than enough information about my company which is legally registered, together with a notary letter witnessed by 2 lawyers assigned by the government, copy of my 2 official ID’s, company’s registered address and bank account.

    They said that because the electricity bill receipt i sent as prof of address is not on my name or my company’s name, so because of this the verification department is denying my Gold Status membership, and they would give $379 usd refund as the $120 usd was the fee for the verification department.

    (Now just to clear that out, how can the electricity bill be on my name if I’m renting an apartment on a condominium building, So this is when i went and looked for a notary service that can verify and state that the registered address belongs to me, and is the same as my registered address for my company which is on my name, between the official notary fee, the 2 lawyers assigned by the government as witness, the stamp and the translation services i payed $800 usd.)

    The answer i got was, “we can not accept this letter as is not on the acceptable format for us”. We are talking about an Official International document that is not valid for them.
    Now thats the first time i hear this nonsense.

    But at least im getting my refund of $379 usd, or so i thought.

    They just sent me a supposed confirmation transfer from their HSBC account, where it doesnt even have my bank account details.

    This was 5 months ago now emails have stop, and when i email them i get a “email could not meet recipients address” message. And of course i don’t have my refund nor the Gold Status.

    So, the website and its sellers its all a Scam, such a shame because, it has really a good potential if they were legit.

    I am leaving my contact information if anybody is interested in making business.

    I am looking to take advantage of my position now that im located in Thailand.

    I accept paypal or credit card payments, i also have an ebay account.

    So if you are interested please contact me.

    Its been almost a year now that I’m in Thailand, don’t expect to get from me same prices as the Alibaba “sellers” as those prices don’t exist at all in the market.

    I have accounts directly with Apple, Sony, Samsung, and other big resellers in Thailand.

    I have done my research and i know the prices I’m able to get don’t work for certain products for certain markets, but is all a matter of finding which product work for your target market.

    Whether is electronics (which brand and which model), is it cloths you are after, beauty products, etc.

    You can expect real prices, for real merchandise.

    I wish you good luck with your business.

    ” If you dont give up, you cant lose”


    [email protected]

  18. My company paid USD $2,000 for some garments and did not receive anything. Do not do business with this company: KW Winner Apparel. A man named Jerry was my contact but seems his email is bouncing now.

    1. Hello Alan,

      Did you transfer money directly to a bank account owned by KW Winner Apparel? If you did, you might be able to report this to Alibaba. However, you’re out of luck in case you transferred money to a beneficiary that is not matching the company name “KW Winner Apparel”, a private account or by Western Union.

  19. How good an indication is the “Verified by Alibaba and a third party” that a supplier is legitimate? I’m talking about avoiding complete scams where they may take your money and never ship the items. Also, how long do you think a supplier would stay listed on Alibaba if it was indeed a scam?

    1. Hello Ben,

      No, the only thing they verify is that the company is legally registered. Well, that says nothing. Bernie Madoff also had a legally registered company and that didn’t really help anyone. Scams are more complicated that.

      The thing is that the scammers never use the company listed on Alibaba to defraud importers. Instead, they request the payment to another company account. When anyone complains, they can simply state that they didn’t receive any money and therefore have no responsibility for the fraud. Which is true, because they didn’t receive any money, another company (probably owned by an employee) did!

      1. Thanks, appreciate the advice!

  20. Thank you for sharing this info. Its really good. Most of the days I am ending up paying custom tax equal to my product worth. any idea how to cut short it. I am getting products via china post. if I opt for fedex or DHL, can i avoid custom tax?

  21. Great article and very much appreciated! Your articles are inspiring an inner importer in me I didn’t know about!

    My confusion though lies in the area of trademarks. The watch company you mentioned (guangzhou guanghao watch co ltd) has the trademark ‘Delishi’ and the same name is listed as a brand name under a product description.

    Many thanks for a clarification on this.

  22. Hello thank you for your rather informative article, which makes my entire search perspective more thorough. I have noticed that some companies do not mention their Registered Capital at all. Is it mandatory to do so?

  23. Hi great article. Im setting up a beauty salon in bulgaria and i want to sell some beauty items do u know of any recommended wholesale websites that i could purchase from? this is all new to me. Any info much appreciated.

  24. An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a coworker
    who has been doing a little homework on this. And he actually ordered me
    dinner simply because I found it for him… lol.

    So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx
    for spending the time to talk about this issue here on your website.

  25. I’m amazed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a
    bpog that’s both educative and engaging, and let me tell you,
    you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is something that not enough men and women are speaking intelligently about.

    I’m very happy I came across this during my hunt for something concerning this.

  26. scam company La Finestra BIZ SRL

    seller francesco angioli

    they will try to convence you to send the transfer first with wester union and will ask you send the scan of the paper without the mtcn and the details , and they will tell you will send the products to you and when you receive the products they will ask you the mtcn for withdraw the money , but really they dont need that mtcn code for withdraw the money , that is the way that i was scam for this company , be carefull all my friends

  27. Hi!
    Thanks for the explanations. In fact, I am in contact with a supplier in Shanghai (China) to buy a smartphone. I asked for details about the company. They provide me with and in their invoices, there is the company name, address, phone numbers and the full detail of their representative if I opt for a bank transfer payment. is this company (FACTORY CONCEPTS GROUP LIMITED
    Room 297, 5 E 2 level area N° 2189, JiHe Road, Qingpu Shanghai jiading, China (Mainland)) trust one?I need your help.thanks

    1. If you’re asking I’d guess you have a bad feeling already and all I can say is trust your gut, or you’ll be right back posting “Do not deal with X company”. This is a fantastic article, read it and incorporate it into what you are already doing, otherwise you’re only asking someone to do your job for you. Do your due diligence, don’t try to “get rich quick”, and test the crap out of your samples. You should be more nervous about how you can develop your brand than if you will be scammed. (I posted a hypothetical “perfect scam” for alibaba… absolutely everything can check out but you can never be 100% sure, welcome to the internet.)

    2. So, finally, did you check? Are they trustworthy?

  28. I know about the difficulties in the relationship myself with Chinese suppliers. I am British myself, married with a Chinese girl here in Ningbo China. I’m part of an international trading company which helps people interested in this article in helping them find suppliers. I have made several connections with manufacturers, especially with stationery and cleaning products etc. If you are interested in importing such products from China, don’t hesitate to contact me [email protected].

    1. Kevin I found your web address on a how to avoid being scammed on Alibaba. I believe you said that
      you have connections to the Chinese manufacturing factories. I’m currently investigating to have some
      parts made cheap in China. So I have been reading how not to be scammed LOL. My research tells me
      that they don’t care in China about your patents. They say they will sign a NDA but how do you enforce
      it in another country, joke and or nightmare. I have a device that I want to get the metal parts manufactured
      cheap. I want to try make good decisions on who I am trusting as I have heard about a lot of bad set ups.
      These stories make me leery of taking the next step. I don’t want all the hassles that add up to negative
      losses not worth the energy. Can you tell me how to have quality parts made at factories for the rite price
      with a happy ending? .

      Steven Bullis

  29. When importing small items, like expensive gadgets, use the Alibaba escrow service. You have the option to dispute and hold transfer of payment if quality or item is far from your agreement with the supplier. If they do not accept escrow payment, walk away.

    For bigger orders, like full container loads, contact your embassy based in China. They have services that can help you weed out fake companies.

    For even bigger orders, I recommend pre-shipment inspection, or even factory inspection by reputable verification companies – SGS, TUV, Intertek. These help to make sure the contract will be complied with. Expensive, but probably cheaper and more convenient than having to fly there yourself and check the loading at the docks.

    1. I like your comment. I would love it if you would kindly explain to me the intricacies of online marketing

  30. I am needing to find a manufacturer in China for Branded USB’s and find it interesting that liasing with “Sales” people in trying to find a suitable factory, I have been declined from visiting the factory to discuss a longterm relationship until we have placed an order – Is this a normal way of dealing with Chinese factories??

    1. Hello Pauline,

      No, that is not normal and most likely they have no factory. Also, don’t try to buy brand name items from China.

  31. I have sent you an email seeking your help in recommending an authentic chinese company to buy Tablets PC. I would be glad for your advice.

  32. Hi Andrew,

    I’m sorry to bother you, and this must sound like a stupid question, but, do all the goods on come from China? Even if the supplier says they are from Korea?

    I am trying to import Korean skin care and am wondering if it is just the China products that are fakes, if branded, or all branded products on the website are fakes. As I want to deal with brands, this is of huge concern to me. I have not yet initiated any contact with the supplier yet, as I am still doing research and am ecstatic to have found your website of tips.

    If you could please advise me on this I would be extremely grateful for your time and effort.


  33. Never deal with or pay a PI to Hong Kong RoyalseaR International. Sometimes different names appear, all European first names (no surnames). The phone numbers are false and you will lose whatever you send over,
    Luckily I only lost $750US. Cheers … Eddy from New Zealand

  34. Hi has anyone ever delt with
    El Hedaya furniture export company in Egypt also know as Maison furniture company.

  35. Now, if I’ve found a “gold member” with a product I want to import, the company checks out and is completely legit, how can I know someone didn’t copy the company’s information, list the exact same products, and is just impersonating the owner? For smaller distributors I don’t think it would be that hard to do, and even if I call the company everything will check out.

  36. I can only say bad things about Alibaba. Our company have only experienced losses and bad suppliers with the help of Alibaba. It is a very dangerous market place and I would recommend people traveling to China to deal with suppliers. You will save time & money! We had two incidents where two different suppliers delivered completely useless products. They trick you by sending out samples that are of high quality and then deliver a product that you can not even sell cheap. I wrote Alibaba twice and filed two complaints, I never heard from them or got an answer. And these two suppliers were 5 years gold members… Do not use Alibaba!

    1. Totally agree – I will never deal with alibaba again!
      Contact someone who has a reliable ‘finder’ in China and use them (which I am doing) or go there yourself.

      1. Who are you using for your finder? I need a lot of different products.
        Also what do you think of

        1. We use Alibaba primarily for sourcing. There are a host of other sites we use to find out which products will be profitable.

  37. Don’t buy from websites without pay-pal . Any serious seller can be paid on his pay-pal account .

    1. This isn’t 100% true, but as a rule protecting yourself with PayPal or Escrow is a good idea

  38. You can also check, this before sending any money, at to make sure the supplier is not listed in their scammer list !

  39. Thanks for this excellent article.

    When screening the company list you should verify that the 600 different models are actually different. some companies uses the same model, color for several product descriptions.

  40. Hey would you mind letting me know which web hoost you’re using?
    I’ve loaded youjr blog in 3 different brosers and I must say this blog loads a lott quicker
    thenn most. Can you suggest a good web hosting provider at a reasonable price?
    Thanks a lot, I appreciate it!

  41. Dear , Friends ,
    This is Arun from Singhtex Co.,Ltd.,Bangkok, Thailand ,
    Can any one suggest me how to minimize the fraud while importing goods from abroad , Besides Inspection Certificate is their any other way i can reduce my risk .
    I am quite new in this field so i need your expert advice.


    1. Check out the other articles on importing here.

      We go through this more in-depth in our coaching programs but it’s tough to pack all the knowledge into a single blog post. There are just so many variables!

  42. Great post: i want to start importing original smartphones,tablets,laptops and play station please can u recommend a reliable supplier for me,please whats the status of Phoenix trade Llc

    1. Reply
    2. Hi Japhet,
      I’ve also been looking at ‘Phoenix trade LLC’ and if I were you I would avoid them. If you Google the address they give for their factory, you will find it is a small house it the USA.
      I have found that scammers, will advertise the same product multiple times, using different photo’s and descriptions to make it appear as if they are selling many different items. They will even have a website where you can purchase these items that you will never receive.
      If you find a good supplier, please let me know

  43. Excellent post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m impressed!

    Very useful information specially the last part :) I care for such information much.
    I was looking foor this certain information for a long time.

    Thank you and good luck.

  44. Great post! i was wondering if you have to pay taxes if your buying out of state. How does that work for the states?

  45. Hi

    Would you suggest using global sources to find reputable companies?

    I here that you’re less likely to end up with scammers using them. Also theres a big thing going around that being an Alibaba gold member means nothing as the membership can just be bought.

    1. It’s certainly not EASY to become a gold member–it’s a “necessary but not sufficient” kind of thing.

  46. The website is not a scam, but many sellers are, and the website does not care much about scams. That is my experience.

    I bought ozon cleaner for car use, opened the product and inside the nice looking exterior was 1 diod light, 1 resistor and 1 transistor. That was all. No way this product can produce ozon and clean air. I told aliexpress this, and also send them pictures I had taken of the electronics, they told me they needed more proof for my claim, so I explained again why it is not possible that the product can produce ozon. Aliexpressed closes the case telling me in one sentence that my claim was wrong. I an certain that aliexpress knows it was a lie, since very basic knowledge of electronics is needed to understand that I was right. I even chatted with a representative from aliexpress at their website that comfirmed that I was right. But the people you chat with have no authority, it is the so called “expert team” that makes the decisions. The people you chat with tells you they will contact the expert team and also the seller but I did not get any answers from the expert team or the seller. I also chat with a person telling me that all that aliexpress do is connect buyer and seller and that they take no responsibility. It is only the seller that is responsible for a fraud. I argued that the problem in my case is the factory that produce the fake item, and that this item is sold by hundreds of shops at aliexpress, but aliexpress will not act to stop the product. It is up to each seller if they want to sell a fake item or not, and obviously very many sellers want to do that …

  47. I shop on Ebay for more than 10 years and i can hardly recall any cases when i was unsatisfied.
    Quality of the sellers is high, there is a claim process in case of any problems and support team works quite fast.
    But from my point of view – the prices are higher then on aliexpress or dealextreme.
    Of course it’s not right to simply compare those marketplaces, but 50% of ebay sellers sell the same things as on aliexpress. Or they just drop ship.
    In order to pick the right product among hundreds of choices i used to read reviews on the web site
    There are sections related to ebay, aliexpress and other internet shops.

  48. Did I just get scammed, sent my money (yes, I’m an idiot) by W/U to a company in China for 2000 cell phone stand holders (I had planned to customize it for gifts and resale) now the guy I have been emailing said “due to schenzhen custom strictly checking for the month ect ect bottom line is he’s saying I need to work out with customs a fee of $120? My guess is I’ve been scammed?

    1. unfortunately yes you have been scammed.

  49. Have you ever thought about creating an ebook or
    guest authoring on other sites? I have a blog based on the same ideas you discuss and would love to have
    you share some stories/information. I know my subscribers would
    appreciate your work. If you’re even remotely interested,
    feel free to send me an e-mail.

  50. As someone who works as a sourcing agent myself in China, I have to say, you have known Alibaba really well..Alibaba is the biggest B2B website in China, you can find as much suppliers as you want, but there’s also some good alternatives B2B websites in China if you have some issues with Alibaba, like GlobalSources、 don’t mean to be a spammer, just in case you may meed one.

    1. I need a reliable supplier of walnuts and sesame seeds. raw. no shell. if anyone has contacts please reply

  51. Hi greatinz
    i also think about your recomendation that alibaba is a very well known website in china.also known all over the world.i also follow ali baba and here cosmatics

  52. I love reading an article that can mke men and women think.

    Also, thanks for allowsing me to comment!

  53. Ali Express and Ali Baba are a real pure scam; forget any promised protection – they just rip you off your debited amount and then fend for yourself if problems arise; no real contact facility exists and the advised chatting channel is simply computer-generated robot chat delivering nonsense answers to comments/queries submitted to an extent that one could even feel insulted for being treated to be so stupid in receiving typical stupid answers!!! Beware! This is an eye-opener for anybody considering using Ali Express for transactions. Dishonest crooks – period! Never again.

    1. We and our clients have a had a ton of success with both Ali Express and Alibaba. Alibaba is a public company now.

      There ARE scammers who use these services, that’s why we provided this article!

      I’m sorry that you had such a poor experience with the supplier you worked with.

  54. Excellent article! Thanks for the info…

  55. I’m not certain where you are getting your info, but great topic.
    I must spend a while finding out more or understanding more.

    Thank you for great info I used to be on the lookout for this information for my mission.

  56. Can we trust Alibaba’s new “Trade Assurance” program with gold suppliers?
    They guarantee 100% of buyer money back

    1. Hello Timothy,

      Yes, this may offer a refund – but only if the reasons are ‘good enough’. Telling Alibaba to issue a refund simply because the supplier did not comply with an imaginary vision of ‘good quality’ will not be sufficient. Alibaba will certainly, and for very good reasons, require extensive documentation that proves that the supplier did not comply with the buyers specifications.

    2. Can you trust it? So far no, you cant. The supplier and I have agreed to cancel the order because the shipping company did not include the relevant local charges and were charging $220USD to ship from china to australia, it was going to cost me a further $550AUD to pick up the item from a freight forwarder.

      So $1700USD and almost 2 months down the track and I’m still emailing the disputes team even when the company has said to refund it. I am still in contact with the company and I have since bought other items from them but the trade assurance may refund the money.. But I wouldn’t trust it again.

  57. Hey Frederik, I’m looking for PS4’s on alibaba, and I can’t find which ones are legit.. can you helpme out?

  58. Pretty! This has been a really wonderful article.

    Manyy thanks forr supplying his info.

  59. hi Sebastian
    is there a way that i can get a good reference for credible suppliers of good quality human hair extensions? I’m currently based in Nairobi Kenya your help is greatly appreciated and thanks for the informative article.

    1. I wouldn’t be too pedantic about hair extensions, it’s not generally something anyone would make “fakes” of, you can use ali-express which has a 100% money back if not satisfied guaranteed, and make sure they pass all the other checks, check the same suppliers on alibaba for factory/site checks and audited companies. Only use suppliers who have a factory manufacturing exactly what you’re looking for, and test their communication skills thoroughly by negotiating an order. If all seems ok with all of the above, you’ve probably found a lefit factory or supplier, if any of the above seem out of place, strange, or too good to be true, it’s because something is not right, everything should be 100% perfect for you to place an order, no paying ever until goods have arrived and been checked, EVER! Good luck

  60. Many legitimate companies advertise on Alibaba, problem is it takes a lot more research, and many of the “legitimate” businesses will make contact with you or get your e-mail from your alibaba queries, then they will mail you brand named products at really cheap prices, which are all fake, as they are not allowed to do that on alibaba. As a general rule, the alibaba rating is close to meaningless, but that doesn’t mean legitimate honest suppliers don’t advertise on alibaba, but scammers use their rating system. I have clear evidence of this if anyone needs.

  61. Hi,
    I want to start a legitimate business of selling kids clothes online. I am importing dresses through aliexpress. However, the seller’s are not providing invoice and also all the packages are marked as ‘gift’. how are you guys managing this? As for setting up a business invoice and custom clearance are mandatory in every country…
    Thanks in advance for your help :)

    1. Hello Garima,

      Are you based in the US? If yes, then there’s quite a few more things than customs clearance to take into consideration. Before you import anything, you need to ensure CPSIA compliance, and perhaps also CA Prop 65 compliance (substance regulation).

      1. Hello Will, Kyle, Fredrick It is absolutely great stuff following you guys, I have learned soooo much through reading and listerning to many of your articles, but I still havent made any real dives yet (even though I really want to..nerves).
        I live in Dubai and we don‘t have an Ebay or Amazon just and a few others that can‘t compare. I have made a few sample orders from Alibaba and so far so good… when i make the BIG dive i‘ll fill you all in :) Anyway love you guys … keep it up. Jacqueline

        1. Congrats on your order, that’s a huge step. Keep us updated!

  62. Awesome blog, quality questions, great responses. Will and Kyle, and now fredrik.
    I’ve been reading all you guys have out there so very informative. Thank you.

    Obviously there are lots of sellers on alibaba. Is there a list anywhere of legit sellers we can obtain. I would be willing to pay for it?

  63. The guy that scammed me has an e-mail address, surely there is an account sent for this address, surely they can be tracked down and punished through this connection???

  64. I every time used too study paragraph iin news papers but now as I am a user of net
    so from now I am using net for articles, thanks to web.

  65. My brother and I made a purchase from:

    Address:Chiweipian, Xiachen Village, Shanghua Town, Chenghai District, Shantou City
    TEL:+86 754 85607891
    FAX:+86 754 85607892
    E-Mail:[email protected]

    on Alibaba and when in receipt of payment they asked for a further payment of $500 because apparently the shipping cost were wrong.
    We haven’t received our products.

  66. What do you guys think of this company please ?

  67. If you order from a site like this, from a foreign company, would I have to pay customs fee when it gets to the United States?

    I have to buy product for a Hawaii business and shipping from the mainland is expensive. Everything is made in China anyway. But I don’t want to end up paying more than I thought I would.

  68. Hello Frederick!
    May I say first of all, what an informative and detailed article, so thank you.

    I am looking into starting an online boutique and am investigating manufacturers of handbags, headbands, jewellery etc- possibly China is my preffered option

    Can you recommend me any suitable manufacturers which have a good reputation?
    If you do have the time, I would really appreciate it. I have provided my email as above.

    Thank you :)


  69. I freaking love your site. It is incredible information that applies directly to small-scale import entrepreneurs/wantrepreneurs. Keep it up my friend.

    1. Hopefully fewer and fewer wantrepreneurs :)

  70. What about identity theft? My company has been a subject to that- many people have been scammed on my account, I will not mention all the lawsuits going on, but now, how can I purchase anything via Alibaba and be sure the company I am willing to deal with is eligible?

  71. Guys,
    I have 2 queries:
    1. Is there any other place to buy wholesale item apart from china. I mean from other Asian countries at cheaper price?
    2. Is it advisable to but branded products in electronics section from china. For ex I was interested in buying San disk micro sd card.
    Please advise.

  72. looking to buy a bike frame, does anyone have a good source.

  73. Pretty! This was a really wonderful article. Thanks
    for providing this info.

  74. Hi, this is a pretty extensive and thorough way to investigate Alibaba merchants. I write a lot about the safety of online shopping in China and I like to use your info one day (with credits of course). It will be very helpful to my readers too.

    Today I wrote about how fake scammers use inquiries on Alibaba to send their listings. One of the companies even stole the identity of a legitimate Chinese manufactory. This blog can be found here.

    Keep up the good work!

  75. Hey, I am currently looking at buying electric unicycles from Alibaba, and what I wanted to know is, what if a supplier list the same product (well, or at least it looks like it), but under a different name and/or price? Should you go for the cheapest, mid-priced, or high priced?

  76. Hi!

    Thank you for the article.

    Would just like to know if anyone has bought from four leafage fiber ?
    Did you get what you ordered and was it of high quality

  77. Hi,

    I’m a local Chinese and I think some of the ideas above are not really practical.

    First is about the ISO 9001 certification. I mean, literally, this certificate can be bought for just a few thousand CNY(approx. 1,000 USD) here. However, if the product you are looking for are in some special industry and some specific certifications may apply, like API-6D for pipline valves, that certificate will certainly make a factory more valuable.

    Second is about the size of the supplier. Not always the bigger the better. Some bigger company produce crappy stuff, while some house-based workshop produce with great quality. What’s important is to get a sample from the supplier, and what’s more important is to get on the ground and pay a visit, watch and feel, evaluate the supplier with your own eyes and hands. If you are not able to get to China yourself, hire someone local to do that for you.

    Hope this will help you guys, and you can contact me at hankjiang1@gmail if you want.

    Kind regards,


  78. Thank you for a great article. What would you say it means if the company’s profile is missing a lot of the info you mentioned? Would you assume they are not good quality?

  79. I’m looking for a printer in India or China to produce jigsaw puzzles of my designs. How can I find an honest and reputable jigsaw puzzle printer?

  80. Link exchange is nothing else except it is only placing
    the other person’s weblog link on your page at suitable place and other person will also do same for you.

  81. Hi, it’s me.. Again. I have read a few of your other articles and I want to exactly what you did, start a business at 13, make money, and everything go smooth. I have spent weeks looking for products and found some I think are good but I’m not so sure. I am new to this so I ask a lot but I don’t really understand this stuff I thought it’s just pay and get your stuff but it’s so much more so if anyone could please explain in simple words step by step what I need to do. How to find good products, good suppliers (big one), how to import it, and how to sell it. Thank you all so much and a special thanks to you Will, you inspired me to try this!

  82. How do you know what you buy from alibaba is authentic? I.e., my wife sales clothes online. She has found some name brand makeup for a cheap price. My thought is it sounds too good to be true. She ordered some and they look like the real thing. However, I don’t want her to sell them if they are remakes because I don’t want to be guilty of copyright infringement. How does one know if they are buying an authentic item to resale?

  83. Which method of payment would be your safest bet.

  84. I want purchase iPhone 6+ and leptop on
    Who is true and trast suppliers plzzzzzzzzz tell me

  85. two thing that can happen 1 is Fraud you might not get want you order another is getting fake products

  86. Thanks for the info. I am concerned that the agents of the suppliers giving quotes want to liaise on whatsapp and Skype. Is that alright? Should I only worry when payment needs to be made? Thanks

    1. You’ve got it exactly right. Communicating on Skype is totally normal.

  87. Hey,

    thanks for the article , how do I check the companies registered capital , I can see listed on their profile , but how can be sure that it has been verified ?

    Kind Regards


  88. Hello Fredrik,
    Thanks for the informative article.its really educative since i would like to start importing baby products from china. would you please recommend some manufacturers. Do you give services of an agent in China? I will highly appreciate your assistance.

  89. I have been working in factory and selling on Alibaba for 5 years. I have to say something you mentioned are not correct.

    1/ Why you want to advoide Middle Man? If you buy small quantity from factory, do you think factory will be careful with your order? Of course not, Chinese boss seldome like small order, so there is no gurantee for small orders, if you work with middleman, they can go to the factory to check quality and ask them to send photos, as far as I can see, milldle men are more honest than Chinese factories, this is hard to explain but I can say the Chinese bosses are old stupid Chinese, they do not speak English and they have typical Chinese mindset, those sales girls are lazy and not responsible, middle man are all young guy, they are enthusiactic and have passion.
    2/ You really think Alibaba certificated manufacturers are real manufacturers? There are thousands of companies open Alibaba with manufacturer’s company lisence but they are middle men, you can’t tell it. Alibaba is not that serious with this, if you pay them money, you can have all the service on Alibaba.
    3/ Chinese always use Hongkong Bank to avoid tax, if you see their bank names are different from their company names or their company address is in Hongkong, this is normal.

    I think there is no way can 100% to tell fraud manufacturers, the best way to get good quality is to check the webiste contant, see their photos good or not, the products information detialed or not, if a company is not responsible with their website, how could they be responsible for their customers?

  90. How should I take payment? Through alibaba or through their direct bank? I’d rather pay the extra 5% and be protected by doing it all through alibab

  91. Hi

    would you trust a china supplier if not alibaba but receives paypal payment?

  92. Does anyone know a good company that sells hoverboards for about $150 (more or less)?

  93. When the item is “shipped how long does it take to get the tracking number

  94. Is there a place online to get Alibaba vendor reviews? I would be interested in hearing what other people have to say about their experiences working with specific Alibaba vendors.

  95. yado’s company verification reports saved me from being defrauded.


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