Scamming is a hot topic on the local cosplay scene lately — what with the upcoming con swing and cosplayers scrambling to get their costumes done in time. Unscrupulous people have taken advantage of this upswing in commissions, by putting up bogus sales or opening commission slots with no intention of finishing them.
While many of us are pissed on behalf of the scammed, we can also prevent more cosplayers from falling victim to the same schemes. Here are five ways of protecting yourself from wig seller and prop crafter scams.
Always do a background check online on the cosplay crafter or prop seller.
Put your Google-fu to good use — check online if the seller has a stellar rating. You can also ask your fellow cosplayers on message boards and blogs if a crafter or seller has a solid reputation. Try to go for the ones with better feedback, even if they cost more. You’ll save yourself the aggravation if you received a quality product instead of losing your money to a bogus listing.
Be extra careful when transacting with new or unknown sellers.
We’re not saying that all new or lesser known sellers are scammers, we’re just warning you guys to be extra careful as bogus sellers are known to change their names often in order to avoid detection. If you want to try out a new seller, make a small purchase first. If you’re satisfied with your buying experience, you can work your way up to the bigger transactions.
Never pay the amount in full before receiving the item.
Bogus sellers insist on getting the amount up front — saying they need it to buy materials, rent equipment, and other excuses. Never agree to this — instead, request that you pay a 30% downpayment to get the project started, a 30% installment when the project is nearing completion (insist on progess photos and regular updates via email and text!), and the final 40% upon delivery of the finished product.
Keep copies of all your communications.
Whenever you communicate, try to have it in writing (email or SMS) as opposed to verbal (phone or personal conversations) — that way you have proof when the deal goes sour. Whether you decide to take your complaints to social media avenues, or if you go to court and file a fraud or estafa case, you have a solid body of evidence to back up your complaints.
If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
Plenty of veteran sellers and crafters tell prospective buyers that if they want props made, they can only pick two out of three things: fast, cheap, or good. If a seller tells you that they can do your props lightning fast, dirt cheap, and movie-prop good, they are most likely lying and it is best to stay away from them. And don’t let photos of their “finished products” fool you into believing their claims (like what the guy in the photo did) — they are not below stealing photos from other cosplayers and claiming them as their work.
FB screengrab by Tanix Bairan of Cosplay.PH