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.