Yes, it happened to me. I was scammed.
Scam artists, or as I like to call them “Shady Ladies,” are everywhere. Some are just bad liars and others are outright thieves. These Shady Ladies are mixed among the reputable, professional types online who are selling wigs, offering to sew costumes, making DJ mixes and more. So, how do you protect yourself and your George Washingtons from these Shady Ladies? I put together these lessons learned from the most recent scam. Trust me, read all about it on my Facebook page.
8 Tips to Avoid the Shady Ladies
Ask Around Before You Buy. I know. It seems like common sense. And it is. But I thought naively that a Facebook post would be “read for filth” if a scammer was selling something. But nobody said anything on the post. Once I was scammed, I learned that this Shady Lady had done the same thing to nearly a dozen of my drag queen sisters. What?! It was true. Each had a story like mine and some worse.
Document. Luckily I did get my money back from the Shady Lady after 45 days of inquiry, hearing her excuses and then blasting her publicly on Facebook. Because I had all of the communications with dates in a chat message, it was clear the Shady Lady was trying to pull a fast one. Be sure to document communications with Facebook messages, emails, etc.
Purchase or Deposit. It is customary if you are buying wigs, makeup, eyelashes or another product to pay upfront. Be sure you use a method of payment that has buyer protection, either via your credit card, Ebay, Etsy or typically PayPal. Also be sure to process the purchase as “goods or services” in order to be able to use the buyer protection. If you are purchasing a costume, you may be asked to pay in full upfront or a deposit if it is being custom-made and completed to your satisfaction.
Fake Photos. Sometimes the product or what you buy does not look like the photo. Be sure you take a screenshot or photograph what was being sold and what you got. If you have a complaint, file it immediately with the seller and see if they will replace the item. If not, you can potentially use the buyer protection if you move quickly to file the complaint.
Timelines & Deadlines. If you are purchasing something, ask how long it will take to receive the merchandise from date of purchase. If you can’t get a specific date or it doesn’t show up by that date, you should follow-up immediately. My wig was ready to ship on Dec. 12 when I purchased it. When it didn’t show up by Jan 1, I began to ask questions. When it didn’t show up and I could not receive any tracking information, I knew this Shady Lady was up to something. Beware.
The Worst Shady Lady. Knock on woody, this has not happened to me. But the worst Shady Ladies are those who sell the same wig or dress repeatedly to different people, receive all the money and then delete their Facebook account or other online communications. Hold your pearls, this does happen, although not frequently.
Report It. After my recent scam, I learned there were Facebook pages and other websites for scams and fraudulent activities. Don’t be afraid to share your truthful experience with a particular company or seller. This way others might learn and be warned before making their purchase from the same seller.
Shame, Shame. If all else fails and you are not getting your wig or costume — or whatever the merchandise — you can always shame them on Facebook or other social media. Now I said “shame” — not bully. They are different things. Immediately, of course, my Shady Lady buckled and the money was refunded with this comment denying any scam:
Shady Lady: I did not scam you, so please stop saying that I did, I have refunded your money.
Oh Shady Lady, it took 45 days and I never got a wig and only after posting on Facebook did you send a refund. Yeah, that’s a scam and very shitty of you regardless!
In this world, there are going to be Shady Ladies. I have learned my lesson and these are eight tips to hopefully avoid your share of scams, too. There are some truly awful stories out there of people losing hundreds and thousands of dollars due to bad drag purchases online. Before you double click, be sure you read this, real quick.
DRAG TIP: I got two this column: “You get what you pay for.” and “ If it is too good to be true, it more than likely is.”
SHOUT OUTS: Don’t fret. Some of my favorite drag queen merchandise sellers are Morgan Wells, Mark Martin & Outfitter Wigs. Share some of your favorites in the comments online too.
info: Buff Faye calls the Queen City her home and calls out assholes for what they are (and she performs to raise money for charities). Find her at your favorite bars and hot spots. Plus don’t forget her weekly Saturday night show with Patti O’Furniture, monthly Sunday drag brunch and regular Friday night party bus. Learn more at AllBuff.com. Follow on Twitter @BuffFaye