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Fraud alert: Scammers trick customers on Vinted

Scammers on Vinted use Zalando to defraud customers and take their money. Find out all about it from our article!

Vinted is a C2C marketplace for second-hand products in many categories, including fashion, jewellery, electronics, books, home decor, and much more. Active in 15 countries in Europe and North America, Vinted is popular among sellers and buyers - and lately, fraudsters as well.

Screenshot of Vinted.com’s homepage
Screenshot of Vinted.com’s homepage

First-hand fraud

When you order second-hand items online, you can expect them to arrive in any condition ranging from almost new to heavily used. However, Vinted customers have lately encountered a baffling phenomenon: brand new items appeared on their doorstep instead of the second-hand ones they ordered, complete with an invoice from Zalando.

As it turned out, this wasn’t a random mistake but intentional fraud.

The scheme is rather simple. Fraudsters create a listing on Vinted advertising a second-hand product at a very good price. Once a customer buys it, the fraudster orders the same item from Zalando in the name of the customer and sends it to them. Since Zalando allows payment by invoice, the fraudster can do this without spending a cent while the customer is slapped with the price of a brand new item on top of what they already paid the fraudster on Vinted.

The cause of the problem lies with both sites. It’s relatively easy to open a seller’s account on Vinted, all you need to do is give a name, email address and password. Sellers’ names are not visible, only the username they chose for themselves. Moreover, posting a listing doesn’t cost sellers anything, which further encourages fraudsters who aim to make easy money without a lot of effort or investment.

Screenshot of a random Vinted.com listing with the seller’s username visible in the bottom right corner
Screenshot of a random Vinted.com listing with the seller’s username visible in the bottom right corner

Similarly, it’s just as easy to create an account on Zalando. The platform doesn’t ask for any proof of identity, which means that fraudsters can create customer accounts in virtually any name and address.

Thanks to the uproar of defrauded customers and the investigative work of journalists at German magazine Spiegel, the ruse is now uncovered. Both Zalando and Vinted are aware of the problem and promised to take measures against it. How exactly that will work remains to be seen.

Zalando has offered some advice to customers in this situation. Should you receive a package from Zalando when you haven’t ordered anything from the platform, notify the police as well as Zalando and Vinted as soon as possible, but definitely within two days as that is the deadline before the fraudsters get your money. Zalando promises to suspend the account opened fraudulently in your name and cancels the order in question.

The trouble with second-hand platforms

C2C, or second-hand marketplaces are a great way for consumers to sell or acquire used products that still have some life left in them. This reduces the amount of waste and helps consumers save money, thus benefiting both people and the environment. Even brands that want to be more environmentally conscious can use C2C marketplaces as a basis for finding and reusing old product parts.

Many of such marketplaces are available all over the world and some of them are quite popular with consumers, like the Facebook Marketplace or eBay Kleinanzeigen. However, consumers are not the only parties active on such platforms.

As we’ve seen from the case above, fraudsters often seize the opportunity to pose as consumers (or a business if the platform allows their presence) and lure buyers into fake deals. These can be anything from selling counterfeit products to stealing data or the elaborate Vinted-Zalando scam we’ve detailed above.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular C2C platforms in Europe.

Kleiderkreisel (now Vinted)

Established in 2009, Kleiderkreisel became one of the most popular C2C marketplaces for swapping, selling or gifting clothing and accessories in Germany. Vinted, its parent company rebranded the platform in late 2020, so the former Kleiderkreisel website and mobile app all operate under the name Vinted.

Shpock

With headquarters in Austria but active in many countries including the UK and Germany, Shpock is another popular C2C marketplace of classifieds. Consumers can post listings in various categories, including fashion, health and beauty, sports, electronics, home decor and much more.

Gumtree

Owned by eBay, Gumtree is active in many countries including the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Gumtree also allows businesses to post listings, and is very popular in categories like automotive, health and beauty, fashion, furniture, and even has a site for job advertisements.

With regard to online brand protection, all C2C marketplaces share the same general problems. Products come from numerous unchecked sources, and since the sellers are consumers, the listings lack identifying information that professional sellers are usually required to give, like a business number or address.

It’s easy to see that fraudsters often have an easy way to enter these platforms and create trademark infringing listings.

Online brand protection on C2C marketplaces

Luckily, globaleyez’s online brand protection services work on these platforms as well. Our marketplace monitoring service, for instance, can locate potentially IP infringing listings on C2C marketplaces too. That goes for images as well; our image monitoring will uncover pictures of your products or lookalikes featured in listings.

Due to the nature of these platforms, our search will drag up tons of listings posted by consumers selling their one second-hand branded product of yours. This is where our software’s extensive filters and our decades-long expertise come to our aid. Our online brand protection experts are able to separate fraudulent listings from authentic ones posted by consumers and provide you with actionable advice on potential next steps.

Should your brand need tangible, court admissible proof of the fraudsters’ actions, we recommend a test purchase to learn as much as possible about the origins of the product and the identity of the seller in question. We can research suspected fraudulent schemes and look for weak points in their operations.

In addition, we document all our processes in a court-admissible way, e.g. our tool screenseal adds legally accepted timestamps on our screenshots to help you make your case in court.

Download screenseal’s free version for your personal use from the Chrome shop.

Conclusion

Brands are not immune to fraudulent actions on C2C marketplaces. After all, if your products are connected to fraud, your reputation inevitably suffers. Don’t let that happen to your brand; call globaleyez to assist you in protecting your IP rights and reputation on C2C marketplaces as well.

Contact us and let’s get started.

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