In recent months, the number of Etsy scams has been on the rise as unscrupulous foreign sellers flock to the platform to make a quick buck. Most Etsy shoppers who are scammed don’t realize Etsy dropped “handmade” as a requirement in 2013 but they never really disclosed that to buyers. For 5 years now, they rode high on the reputation of hardworking, independent makers but it’s time to pull back the curtain and reveal the scams being pulled on customers.
Back in the day, Etsy sellers were randomly asked to provide photos of their work in progress in their studio space to prove they were actually making what they sold. It kept sellers honest and you, the buyer, assured that handmade really meant handmade. In 2018, none of that matters. Manufactured products are 100% percent allowed and buyers are the ones getting scammed.
This scenario happens every day:
You find a super cute handmade 24k gold necklace from a seller in Seattle with stellar reviews. It’s only $13 & free shipping! Score!
The necklace arrives but it’s in an envelope with Chinese writing & smells terrible. Weird…but okay. It’s pretty so you forget about it and wear it to work the next day.
By lunch, the gold has rubbed off. What the hell! You message the seller asking to return the necklace and while waiting for their reply, find your “handmade” necklace on Amazon, Alibaba, Aliexpress, and Ebay.
You just got scammed.
I like to call it orangewashing. Much like oil companies greenwash their products by using eco-friendly language and imagery, Etsy is letting you assume you are supporting an independent maker without telling you otherwise.
How to Avoid Etsy Scams
- The easiest way is to do a Google Image Search by right-clicking the photo in Chrome then “Search Google for Image”. If it’s being sold on Alibaba or Amazon, it’s not handmade. Amazon Handmade is different but hardly any makers other than those who sell laser cut wood products are on there.
- Look at the price & shipping costs. If the total is significantly lower than other shops, you’re not getting a deal. You’re getting scammed. Even if they accept returns, you still have to pay for the shipping back which will likely cost more than entire order.
- Filtering search to display “US Shops Only” is not a workaround bc the shop location does not have to match where the order actually ships from. For example, a shop can put their location as Orlando, FL but actually be shipping from China.
- Filtering for “Handmade” also does not guarantee it’s actually handmade. Even if you prove to Etsy they lied, they don’t care. If you have actually won a case for misrepresented products in the last 2 years, please comment below. I want to be proved wrong.
I haven’t talked about this publicly bc I didn’t want to discourage anyone from using the platform but it’s wrong that consumers are being duped en masse into thinking they are getting something unique, handmade or Made in the USA.
Do you have a story about getting scammed on Etsy? Comment below so we can learn from each other.
I have a situation that I would like others input on their thoughts.
I placed an order on one of the ETSY sites which does animal portraits. It took over a week to get my file for the two prints I ordered; that could have been computer related, giving “the benefit of doubt”. Once I received the files in my email, I then tried to upload them on the Walgreens web-site and have printed. When I attempted to do that, the Walgreens website said, “it was too low of resolution” on all the sizes. I then contacted the seller again and he said, “that happened to one other person but they still had them printed and they came out fine”. He assured me his (the sellers) pictures were of good quality with appropriate pixels etc.
I then replied in question on how do I get my pictures I paid for with good resolution. He (the seller) said, “I can order them to be printed by him but I will be charged again”. He also said, “He can’t be responsible for the company’s poor print, I have to take it to Walgreens”
Does this sound like an appropriate way for him to handle this purchase I made? I feel like not and I am getting scammed.
Thanks in advanced.
The low resolution problem is common with Walgreens. I have printed a few test runs & they all threw “low resolution” errors for me.
I would go ahead & test a single print to see how it comes out. If you would like better printer options, I can recommend some I’ve used.
To be honest, Walgreens is a terrible printing option. The colors do not match & I remember mine coming out very yellow green.
I went to a shop on esty for a logo, they said they would send it digitally via email with 2 to 3 days. When it didnt arrive I searched for the shop and it was nowhere to be found. They used paypal for payments so esty wouldn’t refund me the money. So now I’m in a back and forth battle with paypal just to get back what was stolen from me.
Daniel Plaster says
I am a veteran coin collector and have recently checked out Etsy for purchasing coins. I’ve noticed a lot of common “pocket change” coins being sold as “rare” for thousands of dollars. Beware of this! Ask a reputable collector/dealer before buying anything expensive on Etsy.
That’s awful! Thank you for the heads up.
Mary Fris says
Today I was looking for two rattan chairs that I had seen on Serena and Lily for about $500 apiece. I was hoping to find them for less, so I went on Etsy, and they popped up, for $95 each and free shipping from Sri Lanka…they only took PayPal, had no reviews, and everything else they sold was pure junk. Nothing the same quality and the only record of sales I saw was for this particular chair, a total of 17 sales. I smelled a rat. I contacted Etsy to see if they were legit…but they are not allowed to discuss the businesses they allow on the site. My advice, steer clear! Especially if the offer seems too good to be true, it usually is!
Exactly! It makes me so mad because Etsy used to make artists prove they were making the items they sold by requiring studio and process photos. Now it’s just a flea market.
Miriam Escovar says
Hi. I appreciate you being brave to write. I benefited from your tips. You just help me from getting scammed. I am shopping for an outdoor basket chair. The sellers on Etsy are selling them for under $100 US, and claiming they are hand made. I came across about 15-20 new sellers that opened an account 2021. They have no reviews. What they are doing is wrong if they are out to scam people.
Just recently I purchased a digital download with a super low price. Took a chance and found out the serial number doesnt work. What gets me there are a handful of the sellers who sells the same stuff that happen to pop up at the same month.
Louis-Philippe Dion says
Bought a Nikon Camera for 1000$ and Etsy canceled the seller Account after transaction was done. It is a scam. I’m still in the loop with Paypal to get my money back. Shame on Etsy
I ordered a wreath which when it finally arrived it was completely falling apart and looked nothing like what pictured by the seller. Before my order arrived, I attempted to contact the seller to get a shipping status, and I found their Etsy shop had been shut down. Great! Now what? They only took paypal, and that’s probably a dead end. Etsy says I can’t file a claim for another 2 weeks. Thank goodness it was only about 40 bucks (for a cheap wreath I could buy at a dollar store for $3). Never again. Etsy is getting worse and worse. It’s a shame for the reputable sellers.
Hi there, yes I was scammed as well. I spent $500 on a dining room table and the seller said it was taking long because it’s shipped from turkey and the shipping facility didn’t have a platform set up yet. Well it never came and the shop closed on Etsy.
All these scams are the exact reason you NEVER pay for anything on this sort of site using anything but PayPal PayPal will ALWAYS have your back if you get caught out
Etsy platform not being able to discuss orders made to the sellers customers deal with is the biggest red flag of all
Quick money in scammers pockets when they have either junk or just plain nothing to sell