Vendor review: tagdetacher.com [FRAUD]

Our first vendor review for the year sets our scope on tagdetacher.com. It seems the industry has gone full circle, and we now have new sellers popping up using the legendary Vini technique.

ViniPooh
verb
/ˈvɪnɪpuː/
To set up a dodgy operation and attempt to legitimise it by writing ‘reviews’ about yourself from ‘happy customers’.

Since this type of industry (security tag removal equipment) continues to lack vendor reviews due to the nature of the items being sold (and the fact that eBay and Amazon continue to remove these types of listings), we’ll do some of the dirty work.

The only way to review a site fairly is to become one of their customers, so we went incognito and placed an order with a US shipping address. We did this because their terms and conditions page implies, without clarifying, that items ship from the United States. However, much to our disappointment, we later discovered the seller is yet another Chinese drop shipper.

Tagdetacher.com is owned and operated by Shenzhen Tong’an Electronic Co., Ltd.

This is the system generated email we received after we placed a purchase on December 15, 2015:

tagdetacher.com

We waited a few days for the tracking information but, somewhat as expected, it never came. This is where the alarm bells started ringing. Naturally, we wanted to get in touch with the seller for an update, so we went looking for their contact information:

  1. Phone number; none
  2. Address; none
  3. Contact page; generic, without any actual contact details, except for a ‘world map’ with an unaddressed pin dropped on Manhattan

But we did find an email address, sales@tagdetacher.com, and sent a message to it offering them an opportunity to respond. But after not receiving a reply from them in three days, we started a PayPal dispute. Then suddenly, as if by some sort of scam magic, we got a response form them instantaneously.

Hello dear,

why you dispute? pls give me convince and this kind of item is very typical. we can provide you very high grade sevice. You do no know how deep I want your business hot, bucause, only if that you can give me a big order.

We sincerely want to support your business ,pls do not dispute. I not send item to you until you take dispute.

Thanks and best regards.

Amy

Okay. I think what Google Translate is trying to say is that we won’t get our item unless we cancel the dispute. But we’re not cancelling the dispute because that’s our only form of insurance. We told the seller in no uncertain terms that their only option was to ship our item, as promised, and provide a tracking number, as promised.

  • One day later we got a China Post reference number.
  • Four days later we were able to track the item as it left Shenzhen, China.

This looks like a seller taking orders on their own website and then placing those orders on Aliexpress or Taobao. That is, they’re a middle man posing as a supplier. But that didn’t prepare us for the hideous surprise we got in the post about a month later – the Clothes Security Tag Remover Detacher EAS Hook Key, or simply, a detacher hook. But we ordered the 15,000GS magnet.

The dispute with PayPal was immediately escalated to a claim, but we knew this was going to cause problems because the seller was going to use the tracking information against us. Indeed, the item was marked as received by USPS on January 20, 2016, but there is no clue as towards its contents.

The seller has denied any wrongdoing, but the case now rests with PayPal. We’ll update this post once they have a final decision. Until then, we’ll refer to tagdetacher.com as fraudsters for intentionally sending an item ‘significantly not as described’.



Vendor Review: detacherhook.com

The guys over at detacherhook.com were good enough to share some research with us about some clever alternatives for bullet detachers. We’re going to publish this information in our next blog post, but wanted to give a shout out to them by happily recommending their page:

detacherhook

The price includes a sample Supertag, and shipping is from a safe US location. Not sure how long this deal lasts, so get it while you can.

Vendor review: Craze Co / crazeco.com.au

Craze Co is an Australian based seller of shoplifting and graffiti gear and is owned and operated by Alec Leslie Zammitt. His principal place of business is located at 3 Banksia Pl, Greystanes NSW 2145, Australia. According to Google Maps, this address appears to be a common place of residence in the far western suburbs of Sydney.

The website sells China sourced knock-offs under alternative product names in an attempt to differentiate itself from other sellers. The names given to these products, along with their real names, are as follows:

Essentially, the seller appears to be operating a drop ship business, selling knock-off goods freely available on websites such as Aliexpress, but at a significant mark-up. This is probably an attempt to avoid prosecution by Australian based authorities, as can be seen by some recent publicity.

Our verdict: If you’re going to buy knock-offs and risk having them imported to your country, save your money and buy them from China yourself. However, since our launch three years ago, we have always maintained that the safest way to buy security tag removal devices is from a local seller who ships from the same locality. This reduces the chances of your items being seized by customs and border protection, and keeps your personal information safe.

Vendor Review: Unitoptek / detachershop.com (use caution)

In the security tag removal industry there are a lot of fly-by-night scams, so we tend not to review new vendors the moment they appear, because they are often shut down soon afterwards (the last being shopliftinggear.com). However, recently, we’ve discovered one that has been registered for over a year. It’s origins are a little mysterious, so we’ve enjoyed uncovering the who and what during this investigation.

The website known as detachershop.com is operated by a Chinese distributor, posing as a US based seller. They have also operated other websites (e.g. tag-remover.com) which have disappeared after bad reviews and warnings of intent to scam. On their current homepage there is a heading indicating they ship the few items they sell from Philadelphia, but we discovered that all of the items actually ship from China. If you fail to notice this message on their checkout page, you’ll be waiting a couple of months for your item, if you’re lucky enough to get it at all.

detachershop.com

The name of this Chinese distributor is Jimmy Yang of Shenzhen Unitoptek Electronics Co Ltd, better known as Unitoptek. He, or they, operate an account on what we consider to be a high risk website, Aliexpress. Like other sellers on Aliexpress, Unitoptek pose as manufacturers but are merely intermediaries (middle men) passing on their mark-up. Furthermore, the goods they sell are not OEM, but generic in design, and statements about the strength of their magnetic detachers should be taken with a pinch of salt.

The domain name detachershop.com was registered July 10, 2012. The store contains four items for sale, but it’s unclear how one is supposed to pay for them. We attempted to make a purchase, noting that the website displayed Google Checkout (now defunct for tangible goods) and PayPal. It’s possible their PayPal account has been terminated (or ‘permanently limited’ if we’re to use correct terminology), or they may have decided to stop taking payments. Unfortunately, we can’t pinpoint from what time this may have occurred.

We recommended that people use caution when visiting the detachershop.com website. Most of its content is plagiarised, including all of its images and much of the product descriptions. Also, the telephone number listed diverts to a Google Voice voicemail, and we were unable to reach a human being on all of our attempts. Worst of all, the buyer runs the risk of authorities or customs either seizing or tracing the items to addresses located in the USA. We’ve discussed this issue before and hence always recommend that buyers stick to using local, reputable sellers, thereby avoiding customs and the hassle of returning faulty or fake goods to another country.

Vendor Review: shopliftinggear.com

Edit: Ceased operating on July 14, 2013 – read further below for details.

As at May 11, 2013, a newcomer has entered the playing field and, we can tell you, it will be short lived. If the name wasn’t already obvious enough, this vendor unashamedly registered a domain name that describes an illegal activity. As a result, they put the industry at risk by directly associating tag removal devices with an intention to steal. Simply put, irresponsible vendors like this don’t belong in the market.

We’re in the process of dismantling this little operation, and here is what we have achieved so far:

  1. We reported their Facebook page for promoting prohibited activities and had it removed (www.facebook.com/shopliftinggear now redirects to homepage).
  2. We contacted PayPal and advised that this vendor was breaching their terms of service by using the PayPal brand to promote illegal activity (anyone who buys from this vendor also risks their PayPal account being ‘permanently limited’).
  3. Even Zoklet doesn’t like this guy! All posts made by the same username (shopliftinggear) have been deleted, courtesy of moderators.
  4. We have published the name and address of the owner (see further below).

As with another obsolete website, commonthief.com, originally owned by a user under the alias of Ampix0, this vendor will soon realise they will be forced out of operation once PayPal cuts them off.

Do they actually ship the items ordered? We don’t know yet, but if they last long enough we’ll test them out – so you don’t have to….

Update (July 14, 2013): It took a while, but shopliftinggear.com has had their PayPal account permanently limited: As a result, the website can no longer conduct business. If you were unlucky enough to order from this vendor, we recommend that you contact PayPal immediately, place a buyer’s dispute, and request a full refund.

sl-gearThe vendor’s name and address have been published here in order to assist those seeking a refund or recourse for their flagged or ‘limited’ PayPal account, which has become unwillingly associated with this ‘high risk’ user.

Dylan Leger
101 Keeneland
Lafayette, LA 70506
United States
+1 (337) 315-1201

Vendor Review: detachers.net

One of the less known vendors, operating from a website at www.detachers.net, has been around since February 2011, keeping a relatively low profile. We assert ‘low profile’ due to the small number of videos posted on YouTube, and a lack of social network presence. Nevertheless, in order to investigate the credibility, authenticity and perhaps the size of the website and its market share, we did a little digging…

The domain is owned and registered by a UK entity under the name of Arksway Limited. This is somewhat interesting, because it is one of only three vendors with an officially registered business name (the other two being Detacher Co, owned by Tag-It! Security, and VP EAS Accessories, owned by Michael Filev, a.k.a. ViniPooh). As far as we know, Arksway Limited is not associated with any other vendors, and only operates this one website.

But is this business actually real? According to cdrex.com, the business has an address in Derbyshire, England, and was incorporated in 2009. Their listed secretary was Bronius Markovas. We checked to see if this person was also the owner, but their appointment as secretary ended in 2011, and their records have not been updated since. Further research uncovered that the owner is Mr Arkady Elkin.

So, the business is in fact real, and one can even purchase company documents, such as yearly account statements. We stopped short of that, but did discover that their last capital reporting figure was £2.00 (as at March 21, 2012).

Anyway, what does this all say about www.detachers.net? Well, for one, this tells us that they ship from the United Kingdom. That might be good for customers that live there, but for US customers, and perhaps elsewhere too, there are no shipping options available whatsoever(as at February 17, 2013). The prices are also listed in pounds.

Norton gives the site a big question mark, and there are no customer reviews anywhere on the web. This is probably due to their limited client base being in the UK. Given this fact, we’ll end our research here, until such time we receive any information, complaints or otherwise, from our users.

Vendor Review: sensormatic-hook.com and sensormatichooks.com (NOW SHUT DOWN)

Edit: As of November 09, 2012, both of these websites have been shut down.

As the domain names suggest, these websites only sell a single product – the Sensormatic Hook. Apparently, the vendor believes this item is a hot commodity, and that sales are directly proportionate to the number of websites one can create. Yet none of the websites associated with this person are of good quality, and they appear to be scratched together with stolen images and content from other suppliers.

The Whois Lookup for each site shows registrations of:

  • sensormatic-hook.com (creation date: 25-Jul-2011)
  • sensormatichooks.com (creation date: 06-Mar-2012)
  • removesecuritytags.com (unconfirmed, but likely the same owner)

The first two websites consist of the same, unappealing layout and design. Strangely, they also feature a short video which refers to a separate site, removesecuritytags.com. This domain is not in operation, and if you attempt to bring up the index page, a directory listing with a bunch of raw files is shown (as at August 17, 2012). After completing a Whois Lookup of this domain, we have been unable to ascertain if the third website is related to the first two, as there is a possibility that the video is leeched.

One thing that we can confirm is that these websites ship out of Europe – which explains the higher prices – probably due to higher shipping costs. But the main problem for (US) customers here would more likely be shipping delays due to clearance issues as the ‘package’ passes through customs. As mentioned in a previous post, this item would be subject to screening upon importation, and it is very hard to predict how long this might take, as well as what consequences might result.

ebates

Turning our focus back to the vendor, we can confirm that the email address associated with the first site is hharnikk@gmail.com. For the second site, the vendor appears to operate under the name of Online Solutions. Lastly, if the third website is indeed owned by the same person, we can confirm it is associated with the handle ‘doosh1000’, of which there are many Google search results. These include a Twitter account, a closed eBay account, a Freelancer profile, etc.

We weren’t able to find any trust seals on any of the websites. Additionally, Norton returned both domains with a big question mark, as they’re probably too small (too few users) to be tested. Also, the owner does not display the Google Wallet acceptance logo, so there are no publicly visible reviews. Amusingly though, the vendor does state on one of their web pages that they are;

“… the number one provider of sensormatic hooks in the UK, US and Europe.”

Since Sensormatic hooks are sold online by private vendors only, and not through companies that are required to report their earnings, one has to laugh at the self gratifying nature of such a remark. Conversely, we are of the view that sensormatic-hook.com and sensormatichooks.com are just a bunch of opportunists, and are more likely the most inexperienced and untrustworthy of all vendors in the field.

Vendor Review: shrinkcontrol.com

The domain shrinkcontrol.com was registered less than a year ago (December 19, 2011), however, it has the same registrant details as handkeys.com (which redirects to the new domain). It is possible that the website owner changed names due to some scathing Internet reviews of handkeys.com, perhaps in an attempt to rebrand itself. On first inspection of the new website, one is given the impression that it offers a wide variety of retail theft solutions, but on closer inspection it becomes apparent that it’s only selling detaching devices under the guise of a loss prevention image.

We Googled ‘shrinkcontrol.com reviews’ and the first link that came up was from ripoffreport.com. Here, it is mentioned that the website used to accept PayPal, but somewhere along the line their account was revoked. One possible reason this occurred could be due to some customers claiming they had their PayPal account permanently limited (banned) when purchasing from Shrink Control, as there have been reports that the owner was being pursued by authorities:

“The website, www.handkeys.com, along with other multiple aliases, is operated by an individual known to be selling stolen goods. As of November 1st 2011, authorities have instructed the website host to terminate the domain, and all pages have been subsequently removed at the request of the Sensormatic Corporation.”

Tag Removers decided to perform its own investigation. We started by reviewing their website, but it does not display any trust or safety seals. So, we went ahead and entered the domain at safeweb.norton.com and it brought up a big question mark. It seems the website has not been around long enough to establish conclusive evidence of its authenticity. This sounds like a familiar story; it’s been a well known tactic by scammers to close up shop and then reappear elsewhere in order to evade its own reputation.While we can’t prove shrinkcontrol.com is a scam, users should still exercise caution. There is a chance that if you have purchased from this website, personally identifiable sales records may have been seized by the Sensormatic Corporation.

Vendor Review: Detacher Co (recommended)

Featured

Detacher Co screenshotDetacher Co. operates a website at the domain www.detacher.co. It was registered in April 2011 and operates out of the United States and Australia. According to their about us page, they have two shipping centres, one in South Carolina (US) and another in Western Australia (AU). Detacher Co appears to be relatively up-front about the integrity of its own operations: Their testimonials page contains a snapshot of their Google Wallet rating (4.0 out of 5 stars), and they acknowledge their overall rating contains a few bad reviews which they have not attempted to hide. We’ve been told that since November 20, 2013, Google Checkout for tangible goods has retired, so the website now hosts an open platform based reviewing system.

On some of its pages a Norton Secured trust seal is displayed. We successfully verified their safety claim at safeweb.norton.com. This is a rarity, because out of all the websites we tested on this blog, this was the only one to be Norton secured.

Detacher Co. promotes a warranty feature which it offers on some of its products, including the Sensormatic hook. The warranty is a replacement part guarantee valid for 12 months from the date of purchase. We wanted to verify this assertion, so I sent them an email querying what exactly the warranty covers, and got the following response;

“Products that are marked with a 12 month guarantee will be replaced at no charge should the item become defective within the warranty period. We define the term ‘defective’ to mean ‘no longer working per our product description, or no longer fit for its intended purpose, excluding any damage caused by wear and tear’. For more information, please refer to www.detacher.co/refund.html.”

Prices for the Sensormatic hook start at US$24.98, shipped, and get cheaper the more that you order – for example, the price for five pieces is US$79.95. The Golf Superlock Detacher (FX7) starts at US$99.95, shipped. Recall that these items are dispatched from South Carolina (for US customers), not from overseas sources. ETAs can be viewed on their shipping information page.

When conducting background checks of this website, we discovered that Detacher Co. is owned and operated by Tag-it! Security. This business has a registered name and Australian Business Number (ABN) listed at business.gov.au. Tag-It! Security runs its own, separate loss prevention website and appears to offer a wider range of security tags and detection systems. Alternatively, Detacher Co. specialises in security tag removal devices and deactivation systems.

We also found the following pages which appear to be aligned with Detacher Co:

If you know anything else about this business, leave a reply.

Vendor Review: VP EAS Accessories

VP EAS Accessories appears to be operated by a one-man-band and conducts transactions from the email address; vinipooh123@gmail.com. There are conflicting stories on the Internet about the legitimacy of this operation. We found an article on a consumer review website labelled The VP EAS Accessories scam. That article features a discussion from several users about their experience with this business, as well as claims of potential fraudulent activity. The owner / operator also participates in that discussion, and has attempted to rebuke these statements.

Vini Pooh, as he is also known, also runs a website at myshopify.com. On the website, numerous testimonials from various screen names have been posted, however, they look like they have been cut-and-paste and visitors have no way of authenticating this information, or leaving any reviews of their own. Suspiciously, there is not one single bad review, so it seems the owner wants to create a good impression without supplying reviews from trusted feedback sources. Sound a bit shady? It gets better…

After conducting a bit of research, we discovered that VP EAS Accessories is operated by Michael Filev, as confirmed here by BusinessWest. Then, when we Googled this person’s name, we uncovered some interesting stories about criminal activities involving Checkpoint Systems, Inc. According to this article published by Alpha (Alpha is a division of Checkpoint), a sting was set up where Filev was offered gift cards in lieu of payment. Later, when the gift cards were redeemed, his identity was revealed, and they were subsequently able to prosecute.

This article will be updated as more information comes to hand.