Many people find my site by using the search term “is so-and-so diamond dealer legit”.
Spotting a fake, illegitimate site is not too hard. We all know when something is not quite right, and things don’t quite add up.
Here are a few things which can help to identify sites which are scams.
Prices are lower than the lowest in the world
Links in certification logos are fake or misleading.
Text is stolen
Images are stolen
Website ownership is hidden, done through an intermediary.
No physical address
- Prices are lower than the lowest in the world
How many times do we have to hear the old saying “If it is too good to be true, it probably is” before it sinks in? In France they say “That looks too good to be honest”. So it is a good idea to double check and triple check when something that is usually quite expensive is marked down lower than is reasonably possible. No one wants to live their life constantly suspicious of everything, but a healthy level of suspicion can prevent us falling victim to various unscrupulous dealers. There are occasional special deals where a vendor may take a loss on a particular item in order to attract people to their site or store. These “loss leaders” can’t be the only thing sold or the business will quickly go bankrupt and fold. The occasional massive discount sale may help companies promote their name, collect addresses of new prospects or get rid of stock that hasn’t been moving. If everything on a website is discounted to ridiculous levels it is usually because they are selling “seconds” that the boutique vendors can’t market efficiently. Many people are quite happy to save a few dollars and settle for a product that isn’t top shelf. Dollar stores continue to sell, even though everyone knows that there’s very little value in the products found there. Since diamonds are extremely difficult to mine and process and they do not have an expiry date there is no reason on either end of the spectrum to sell them at a discount. The production costs are high = high sale price. There is no expiry date = no pressure to sell NOW at any price.
- Links in certification logos are fake or misleading.
The bottom of trustworthy websites have certification logos, such as COMODO from IdAuthority.comTM, Better Business Bureau Accreditation, TRUSTe, TrustWave®, Secured By Thawte®, VeriSign Secured from Symantec TM, ICANN, and Web Trust. These logos/badges should show the site’s certification when you click on them. If a site has any logos that, when clicked on, lead to a different website than you expected, this is the first sign that something is wrong. Also don’t be impressed with just any logo. There are plenty of logos found on the bottom of pages which represent the payment methods accepted such as Paypal, GoogleCheckout, VISA, Mastercard. Just because a site accepts payment doesn’t mean they are genuine (although Credit Card Companies are getting stricter as to who can accept payment on their websites). There may also be links to review sites such as TrustPilot, iVouch and Bizrate. If any of the logos do not link to the sites they claim to represent this should be immediate cause for concern. For example one site has the link from the Better Business Bureau pointing to reviews at TrustPilot and not to the BBB.
Click image to see screen capture.
Sometimes you can tell that the logo has been linked to a different site without even clicking on it. When you hover over any of the badges or seals you can see part of the URL the image links to by looking in the lower left hand corner of your browser. If the link actually has anything to do with the certification logo or seal image you should be able to tell by the part of the URL you can see. Granted there are exceptions, as some certification logos do not show the link. When you hover over the COMODO logo from IdAuthority.com TMand TrustLogo.com it won’t appear to be a link. You have to click on it before anything is shown. Clicking on it you will see that IdAuthority will provide a website identity assurance warranty of a specific dollar amount such as $250,000 for the site you are on. If the page you arrive at when clicking on a COMODO icon is hosted at TrustLogo.com and the details match the site you were just at then everything is ok. The logos that hold the most sway are COMODO from IdAuthority.comTM, Better Business Bureau Accreditation, TRUSTe, TrustWave®, Secured By Thawte®, VeriSign Secured from Symantec TM, ICANN, and Web Trust. Virus check logos are also reassuring. The most important thing is whether the logos actually link to correct sites. That is what the verification service is. They verify the sites in question as being legitimate. If it goes to a review site when it should be going to the verification site, it’s definitely suspicious. Reviews are good, but the link shouldn’t be switched like that. These are signs that the site could be a complete scam. It’s also possible that reviews can be faked, particularly if there are just a few dozen. Even Facebook “likes” can be faked. There are thousands of fake Facebook accounts that unscrupulous website “optimizers” create and then use to enhance the seeming popularity of their websites. (have you noticed that I haven’t done this with my site? Of course if you do like it, please do hit the Google+ or any other Share/Save social media button)
- Text is stolen
If a site has not written their own content they are either lazy or fraudulent. Either way it’s likely that it is not legal. Text can be checked to see if it has been stolen from another site.Here is how.Select a short paragraph and pop it into Google search bar. Place a quotation mark at the beginning and a quotation mark at the end. Hit Search. You might find a page or two of the exact same paragraph. You may find a number of pages at strange looking web addresses. These are (stupidly) done in an effort to increase the questionable site’s ranking by some web site “optimizers”. Skip past these. Allow google to show you all sites by clicking “repeat the search with the omitted results included” which shows up at the bottom of the page. If the search shows you that the text was in fact copied from a reputable site then you have another reason do distrust the questionable site. Sometimes you may even find another suspicious site that the perpetrator set up. You’ll be able to tell because it has the same tell-tale signs (logos without links, same reviews copied and pasted etc). There may be some false positives as well, such as one hit I turned up when doing this kind of search gave me a demo site where a company was obviously testing out a new design for a legitimate company.
- Images are stolen
This one is going to be hard to identify as you would have to be familiar with the images at other diamond websites. The above example (see image above) was brought to my attention by one of my readers, and so I had a look. Apart from the prices being too good to be true I recognized that they had images from UnionDiamond, but had edited them to remove the UnionDiamond logo from the rings. I emailed UnionDiamond immediately to alert them of the image theft. The other images of diamond rings on the rogue site looked similar to those on a couple other sites as well. No diamond dealer in their right mind is going to use the images from another website. Not on your life.
- Registration of website is hidden, done through a proxy
While many people want to keep at least a few things private it’s a good idea for corporations and businesses to register their website using their business name. And that’s what most do. If a website that expects us to spend money and part with personal details won’t even disclose who owns the website we have to wonder “Why?” It’s very easy to look up who owns a website. Even typing in the web address you are investigating in a Google search will give you several sites that have information about who owns the site. If it is vague and contains no contact information, then again this should make you wrinkle your eyebrows a little and wonder what they are trying to hide.
- No physical address
This one is not the worst offence, since some internet companies may only run their business online and do not advertise their physical address. However businesses are still required to be registered at a physical address. If they are a listed in the Better Business Bureau directory they will have their address included. Now with Google Streetview you can even have a look at their shopfront if they list their address. If they don’t list any address at all I advise you to see if they are guilty of any of the other points on this list. If they are, then do not spend money there.
Stick to the list of diamond seller sites here