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Scam watch: what is tech seller GP Fintech?

A website selling TVs and other tech in November’s Black Friday sales wasn’t as it seemed. Here’s what happened when it started demanding bank transfers.

During November’s Black Friday sales, James thought he had found a great TV on offer, one which he’d been after for a while.

He’d found it on gpfintech.uk, a website that he was recommended via a price comparison app. He used his credit card to buy it and received a confirmation email.

But it didn’t take long after that before things became suspicious.

Requesting bank transfers

A second email asked James to to transfer money into a bank account, stating that Black Friday had left it with ‘alot of pending and outstanding payment to clear’.

Fearing a scam, James immediately cancelled his credit card before any money could be taken.

Guide: how to get your money back after a scam

He then received a second email demanding he transferred the outstanding balance, but it used different account details.

It’s vital that, when this happens, you ignore these requests, because it has all the hallmarks of a scam.

The payments backlog claim alone is extremely dubious – modern payment systems are capable of handling lots of simultaneous transactions.

Suspended and taken offline

Many things about GP Fintech don’t add up. Its alleged official company name, ‘GF Tech Ltd’, couldn’t be found on Companies House (there are firms registered with the same or similar names to this and to the trading name of the company, but there’s no suggestion they’re connected with these allegations).

It claims that it launched in 2000, but the website was only registered on 30 August 2019.

A month later, gpfintech.uk was suspended and taken offline by its hosting company after this tip-off.

We contacted GP Fintech/GF Tech Ltd via email and web chat, but it didn’t provide a response to our allegations.

We recommend that you do your research before making purchases, and avoid bank transfers.

Paying for products and services by credit or debit card gives you the best chance of getting your money back if things go wrong.

Have you ever been asked to make a payment by bank transfer after an order has gone through on a website? What happened?

Comments

It can be worth looking up company information before using an unfamiliar company. I’m wary of using newly registered companies and ones that have been trading at a loss, especially for two years or more.

Barry Jones says:
28 February 2020

How do you find relevant information on a company you’re not familiar with?
How do you look up “company information”?

If basic Google searches for its name don’t turn up a lot of information and you can’t find much via social media (e.g. customer service accounts dealing with orders) then that’d be a big red flag for me, personally.

Hi Barry – You can search for companies and present/past directors etc here: https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk

Hi Barry,
I put this together as a shopping checklist.

Before buying a product online, always check out the seller and the product. Even the most legitimate-looking websites can be fake so do your homework first.

Look for all the names, addresses and phone numbers associated with the website. The website name, the company name and the seller name can all be different.

Can you find addresses for the seller? A seller might use several addresses – registered address, VAT, trading, website, check them all out. Are there other ‘sellers’ at the same address?

Search tip: Put phrases in “double quotes” to get an exact match. Works on Google but not all sites.
Removing the double quotes might also bring up some interesting results.

Here are a few sites you can use to check before you buy:

Search companies and people
https://www.google.co.uk
https://www.trustpilot.com/
https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/ (addresses don’t work too well but single words can)

Check VAT numbers
http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/vies/
http://www.vatcheck.eu/

Look up addresses
https://www.google.co.uk/maps
https://www.getmapping.com/ (limited but different timelines for free)

Search phone numbers
Put number in double quotes to move spaces around e.g.
“01234 567 890”
“+44 1234 567890”

Search product images
https://www.google.com/imghp?hl=en

Reverse images (flip horizontally) and search again.

Search selected text in “double quotes” from advert or reviews:
https://www.google.co.uk

Search products on foreign eBay/Amazon sites
Put part of the description in double quotes “like this” with e.g. amazon.de or ebay.ca

Google translator (Chinese names & addresses can have interesting results)
https://translate.google.co.uk/?hl=en&tab=TT

Ask the seller a question:
Ask the weight or dimensions of the product just to get a reply.

I don’t know very much about these websites but Kaspersky rates them as safe:

Website Checkers
http://google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=
Check the reliability of a website or email

https://www.scamdoc.com/

Then there is social media . . .

If anyone else has some useful sites please post them here. Putting a space after the http will stop them going into moderation.

You cannot trust Trustpilot. It might throw up warnings of companies to avoid if you take the time to read the reviews, but the “average” rating can hide multiple issues.

I have twice contacted Which? about a travel insurance company that has a 4-star Trustpilot rating, begging them to investigate why they are still recommending them, when the 23% of bad ratings has a bigger and far more serious story to tell than the 61% of excellent ratings.

You are right Em, thanks for the reminder.

I have updated my own document to say:
https://uk.trustpilot.com/
What you find is not necessarily the truth. I take more notice of the bad reviews that often give further information on the seller.

There is very little trustworthy information on the internet, so all we can do is check things out as much as we can and hopefully come to the right conclusion.

Alfa – What is the reason for flipping images? Are miscreants flipping them to avoid their original source being located?

It is mostly marketplace products from China that could be unbranded to put any name you like on, or brand names you have never heard of. Not long ago, you would only see the two mirror images. Now, manufacturers take many photos of the same product so you have to look at them very carefully.

I once caught out a builder who came round to give us a quote when the pictures on his website just didn’t go with the man and his tatty photo album.

I searched the photos on his website and found some were stock photos used by many in the building trade. Flipping an image of what looked like very professional roofers, I found he had pinched it from another website.

Thanks Alfa. I’ve not seen this in action, but I have rarely studied the similarity of products sold by different suppliers.

I did once point out that the photographer who showed ‘his’ photo of a kingfisher for a new noticeboard had nicked it from something like the Shell Book of Birds.

Disgraceful. He should have used an image of a magpie.