“PLEASE DO NOT PLACE ANY ORDERS FROM COWPKM.MYSHOPIFY.COM THIS COMPANY IS A STORE OF LIES AND THIS SCAMMERS WILL BURN IN HELL FOR STEALING FROM HARD WORKING PEOPLE ALL THESE SCAMMERS ARE BREAKING GOD’S LAW THE 8 COMMANDMENT. YOU SHALL NOT STEAL. EXODUS 20: 15”
There’s a good reason for this person being angry. According to their post on the Better Business Bureau website, a fake Shopify store conned them out of $79,298. Those must have been some real good Christmas presents. Sadly, the scammers don’t care at all if they “burn in hell”. They’ve already gotten what they came for: money.
In fact, these scam stores don’t usually make such huge profits. They most often take advantage of normal people with normal incomes. For such people, even losing small amounts of money can constitute a minor tragedy. As one victim wrote, “$60 may not seem like a lot to many of you, but when you don’t have much money to begin with, and that money was for a Christmas present for your kids, and you can’t replace it, it’s a HUGE issue and loss.” That said, the scammers could still care less.
So what is it about Shopify that attracts these low-life criminals? To answer this question, it is necessary to look at the Shopify business model. Basically, Shopify is a site that provides the tools for anyone to set up an online business. In their own words,
“Shopify is now the leading commerce platform designed for businesses of all sizes. Whether you sell online, on social media, in store, or out of the trunk of your car, Shopify has you covered.”
This is to say that anyone can open a store on Shopify, and therein lies the problem. There is no reason for Shopify to look into how valid your store is. That’s a problem for you and your customers to work out. Shopify only supplies the platform.
So does that deliver them from guilt? Does that deliver them from any responsibility? This may be a matter of opinion, but there are certainly some weak points in Shopify’s business model that can be exploited by criminals. To begin this investigation, let’s look at a typical complaint by a scam victim.
The “myshopify.com” portion of the URL identifies any store using the Shopify platform. Oddly, when clicking on the given link, my browser resolved it to mdrn-living (dot) com, which appears to be a legitimate site. This could mean that a fake site is using a connection to a real site to make money. In other words, the victim would pay the fake site for a product it doesn’t have. When the victim doesn’t receive the product, they will try to contact the real site who would have no idea what they are talking about.
I wondered how other names may be used through Shopify, so I typed in “amazon.myshopify.com”. This, surprisingly, took me here.
The site came with the following welcoming message.
It’s not clear what’s going on here. It appears someone has purchased an account in this name but has not developed it. It may be that Amazon itself has purchased the site to thwart any attacks using its name. This begs the question. Does Amazon have to purchase its name on every ecommerce platform? If so, how many other big names have to do the same? I found that there was a similar page for Google but not for Facebook. In any event, if this is true, it seems that setting up a site similar to Shopify would give you a dependable income, since high profile websites would have to pay a monthly fee to protect themselves from fraud. But fake sites on Shopify continuously appear and, because of this, Shopify has been sued numerous times for allowing fake websites to scam legitimate companies with cloned websites. The most well-known case is the scamming of My Pillow guy, Mike Lindell, with a Shopify site called, mypillowstore.com.
Although big online services may consider paying protection money as simply a necessary business expense, most scammers don’t like paying any money at all. That brings me to the second flaw in Shopify’s business model. Anyone can set up a site for free for 14 days, and all you need to do this is an email address.
Criminals are known to take advantage of such loopholes. They set up a quick store with fake goods. They then offer these goods at fantastic prices to attract buyers. Of course, they don’t really have these goods so the goods never arrive. When buyers finally get tired of waiting for their purchases, they usually try to contact the company. Of course, the company will automatically disappear after 14 days so they will not be able to access the website and their money is gone. Shopify won’t help and even if they could, the only information they have is the scammers email, which any scammer can produce with ease. Although I’ve heard that these free sites are only free until the owners sell something, I have not seen this mentioned in their terms of service.
Another way these criminals make money is to connect these free stores to websites that they control. These sites may look like real sites and may even clone the original site’s layout. The name in the URL will look similar, as in the following complaint.
“I should have known it was a scam when I bought a bunk bed sofa for 59.00. It shows up on my credit card statement as HairCity and also HairsCity. When you look them up it is a hair salon that sells wigs so they stole the name of a legit business to scam people out of money”
Well, it’s possible they created a name similar to the one on an actual sales site or simply directed victims to an abandoned site. As long as the site checks out as a legitimate, Shopify’s algorithms won’t detect a problem.
There is certainly a need for platforms like Shopify; at least 800,000 retailers think so. Investors also believe there’s a future here as Shopify’s stock price has risen 600% in the last three years. But what has also risen is the number of complaints and lawsuits. Customer sites are closed without sufficient reason, money is held, and communication is poor. Throw scammers into the mix and you have a company that seriously needs to improve its business model. It may be that the company is developing faster than the owners can handle or it may be that they simply don’t care. Only time will tell if this site continues to exist 5 years from now.