Marigold Shadows scam

A Christmas Scam

Marigold Shadows – Cheesy Chinese Scam

I thought I would be reporting on a new sort of scam here, like I was a master detective who had cracked the case. I came to realize that the case had been cracked long ago. Still posting so others don’t get sucked in.

The Pitch

My wife loved a new skirt she had found through an ad in Facebook. It was black and cool and “only” $83. She was taken by the company’s story:

We’re so glad you found us. Here’s a bit about our journey so far- Our brand started out of Southern California selling at Lobby, a cute boutique in The Lab mall located in Costa Mesa, California. In 2014 Lobby moved to Marcus Gallery in downtown Santa Ana. We loved the vibe of the area so we tagged along and did our own mini shop in the new spot. We outgrew that small brick and mortar location and opened our online store in 2016. Our team is loving life online.

So she ordered the skirt. Later she got an email saying that the skirt had shipped…from China. It would be arriving “soon.” A few weeks later, emails to Marigold Shadows “Support” team were answered with generic “we’re looking into it” and “we’ll get that to you soon” replies.

The Scam

We started investigating and discovered that this was already very common. It’s apparently easy as pie to set up a website with a Shopify back-end, directly link to whatever products you choose on Aliexpress (cheesy Chinese site full of cheap crap) and set yourself up with a “business.”

So my wife paid someone $80 to order a skirt online in China for $30. The Website and the Aliexpress seller don’t even have to be connected. They just put in the order and your address.

The Whole Story

Alexis C. Madrigal has the fullest explanation of this in his “The Strange Brands in Your Instagram Feed” article from The Atlantic:

For products, he turns to, AliExpress, the Alibaba company. The key to the whole scheme is that he doesn’t have to hold any inventory, so he can start up the business with no capital. And AliExpress has many companies that are willing to do what’s called “dropshipping” direct from wherever the item was manufactured or warehoused. That’s why my coat showed up in a China Post package.

There is an app that plugs directly into Shopify called Oberlo, which allows anyone to pull products directly from Aliexpress. Click a button and something that was manufactured in the Chinese hinterlands and marketed in a suburb of Shanghai becomes an item for sale on an Irish kid’s website. Oberlo’s marketing claims that 85 million items have been processed through the system.

Reading the full article is fascinating, and the worst part of it is: this is not illegal (yet) and there’s nobody to complain to. Although Marigold Shadows claims to be a California company, they are not. The California Department of Consumer Affairs can’t act, because there’s no company to act against.

Oh well. Thanks for reading. Maybe we’ll get the skirt someday. Please keep your eyes open during this Christmas season. Sources here:

The Strange Brands in Your Instagram Feed – Alexis C. Madrigal, January 2018
There’s No Such Thing As a Free Watch – Jenny Odell, August 2017
Marigold Shadows Website
Another dissatisfied customer

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Know lots of stuff about (mostly) meaningless things.

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