On line outdoor gear sales scams

The online gear sale scammers are getting fancy but there are still gaps in their process that enables the wary to suss them out. So I’m posting this to share tips on detecting fraudulent “sellers.”

I was just searching for an item that has been out of stock in my size everywhere recently, including from the manufacturer (Kavu, in this case). To my surprise, a site popped up claiming to be the US outlet for the UK outdoor sports dealer “Wildbounds”. Seemed very complete and had very good sale prices on hundreds of brand name gear and clothing items, like Kelty tents and Pendleton blankets. And they seemed to have every size in this “unobtainium” I had been searching for, on sale, no less. That was the first clue that something was not quite right.

So I corraled my enthusiasm about these "deals " and did some digging. While Wildbounds is a legit outdoor sports dealer in England, their site does NOT indicate a US outlet. The FIRST thing I do when a site feels sketchy is to see if they show an actual mailing or location address in the “contact us” tab. In this case the address they list does not exist – the street name or anything like it does not appear anywhere in Michigan, let alone in Charlotte (though there is a “Wild Bill’s” tobacco store there).

Then I clicked on their “about us” credo spiel and that also seemed really “off” since it was a ramble about how they choose fabrics and fashion styles and have been around for 35 years. So I hi-lited and copied the whole paragraph and pasted it into Google search. Sure enough, it came back as an old J. Crew marketing spiel and multiple search results listed the exact same boiler plate text as having been cloned and used by assorted scam sales sites to appear legit.

In addition, a Google search on the company name returned a number of complaints filed with one of the scam trackers by people who had been ripped off this year after placing an order with the “wildbounds-us”
site, being charged and never receiving anything or being able to contact the alleged shipper.

I did send an email to the real Wildbounds in the UK to alert them to the grifters.

Caveat emptor…


Crazy that their overall Trust Pilot score 2.5, when all I see are 1-star reviews. But apparently TP uses a convoluted scoring regime: https://support.trustpilot.com/hc/en-us/articles/201748946

I’m pretty sure that what TrustPilot has done is average the reviews on the two different website URLs that turn up as “Wildbounds”, both the legitimate one in the UK and the fraudulent one at the fake US address. If the real UK site has one 4-star and two 5-star reviews, those added to the four 1-star reviews for the fraud site would average 2.6 stars (18 divided by 7).

I’ve been looking for a tent that was discontinued 10 years ago. It came up as current stock with very low prices on several sites, but none of those companies could be verified as actually existing. Addresses turn out to be something sketchy like a PO box in a mall. No replies to email inquiries. The websites look legitimate, but I concluded that that has nothing to do with the legitimacy of the company or existence of products.

Too good to be true prices are, well, you know …

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