Unfortunately, not everyone in this world is trustworthy. As in any line of business, you must be careful of who you work with when sourcing products from abroad. The risks almost seem higher when you are communicating strictly via email and phone with strangers in a foreign country whose faces you will never see and hands you can never shake.
Scammers can and do go to great lengths to come off as legitimate suppliers. After all, the effort it takes to make professional looking websites, marketing materials, communication systems, and even the cost of sending you perfectly fine samples of a product will be more than made up for if they can trick just 1 out of 10 buyers into paying thousands of dollars upfront for a large “order.” After doing all this, a scammer can easily abandon or destroy everything they have created in order to fool buyers and and rinse and repeat the process.
How To Import Kit contains 11 Essential Verification Techniques to check whether your potential supplier in China or anywhere else in the world is a scammer or legitimate business. What follows is another of these techniques, taken from the True Entrepreneur’s Guide to Importing Products from Abroad chapter 3 on Verifying Suppliers:
Every legitimate company has to file some sort of registration with government authorities. In China, all commercial enterprises must file for a registration number with the Ministry of Commerce. Ask to see the supplier’s registration certificate. If they refuse, it is a sure sign you are dealing with a scammer. Suppliers can fake many things, but an official government certificate is one of the hardest to create. You will be all the better if you already know what such documents should look like, despite not understanding the language. Excellent examples of scammers reacting to requests for registration certificates and samples of what registration certificates look like can be found in the Case Study Booklet (part of How To Import Kit).
If unsure of the legitimacy of a registration certificate, contact the proper government authorities. For points of contact for every province in China, review the Resource Guide for Verification Tools ,another supplement included with the Kit.