/ Scams, Shopping

Dodgy Lego site disappears after taking orders

We’re all shopping online more during the pandemic, so it’s important we’re vigilant of scams and fakes. Have you spotted any suspicious websites lately?

Bigger brands can be easy targets for fraud, so always be on your guard when you see cheap prices for popular items.

In some cases you’ll be paying for counterfeit goods while other sites simply list non-existent bargains before disappearing with your money.

Suspicious websites

Topwhs.com (which was created on 26 March 2020) claimed to have warehouse clearance prices for Lego, using the Danish company’s branding and images.

We heard from recent customer Ian, who ordered three Lego sets and received confirmation via email telling him that payment would come from ‘Peachshadow’.

A tracking number which originated in China followed soon after but, a few weeks later, a small jiffy bag was pushed through the letterbox containing a black scarf in a plastic bag. No sign of the Lego.

We’ve recently had similar reports of people receiving scarves instead of Clarks shoes after clicking through on scam Facebook ads.

The company initially apologised for the mistake and asked for photographs of the package, its contents and the tracking number. Ian sent them all three but has heard nothing since.

Getting a refund via his bank – using chargeback – initially proved worthless as his credit card provider told him he must send the scarf back to China at his own expense (a whopping £25) under scheme rules.

Ian explained that he had requested a returns address or a pre-paid returns label from Topwhs.com with no response. If the company does reply with a returns address, he may have to pay to return the item.

Topwhs.com has not responded to our request for comment, and now the site has vanished.

A spokesperson for Lego told us:

We are aware of the existence of websites that mislead consumers in different ways and we take all of these incidents very seriously.

While we don’t comment on our specific actions, what we can say is that when we are made aware of or observe any situation where consumers are misled and our intellectual rights are violated we always take the appropriate actions to protect consumers as well as our brand.

We believe that consumers should always be aware of when they are purchasing a genuine Lego product and when they purchase something else – and they should not be misled when purchasing.

We are aware that it may be difficult to identify a fake online store, but if in doubt, consumers can be certain that the official Lego shop is genuine.

Always do your research

Even if the price isn’t ‘too good to be true’, do a few final background checks before entering your card details. 

A quick Google and a read through of some online reviews could be all it takes to avoid being scammed.

These reviews can be faked of course – we explain how to spot the signs here – but a flurry of negative comments is a very bad sign. 

For sites selling branded goods, you can always contact that brand directly via its official channels to verify any adverts or offers you’ve seen.

And remember, if a site has a padlock in the address bar and begins with https (rather than http) this doesn’t mean that it’s automatically safe.

While you should never enter sensitive details on sites without one – as the padlock means the connection is encrypted – it doesn’t tell you anything about the content or intentions of the site. 

Getting your money back

If you’re worried you’ve been scammed, let your bank know what’s happened immediately and read our guide to getting your money back.

Section 75 offers legal protection for credit card purchases over £100, but you may still be able to get a refund using chargeback if you’ve spent less than £100 or used a different card. 

For chargeback, you’ll typically need to raise a dispute with your bank within 120 days of the purchase or delivery date – we explain the rules and quirks of chargeback here

Have you spotted suspicious adverts or websites? Ever placed an order for a product only to receive something else entirely?

If so, let us know in the comments below so we can help warn others.

Comments

I too have bought from John Hardwick. Was just chasing up my order when I realised how dodgy all the info was. My parcel has apparently been delivered in the US.

Hi Stan – I am sorry to hear that. I looked at this site recently and posted a comment in another Conversation: https://conversation.which.co.uk/shopping/fake-ray-bans-scarves-online-shopping-orders/#comment-1612429

Wayne says:
26 November 2020

Hi Sian, the same happened to me as well I ordered from the john hardwick site, says it’s been delivered to Oklahoma usa

Same happened to me. They won’t respond to any emails. My Lego was delivered to Oklahoma too on the 19th. The website had an address in Cornwall.

Wayne and Esther – Do you believe the Lego sets you paid for really were delivered to an address or addresses in Oklahoma?

That’s frustrating, have you contacted your bank to seek a refund?

https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/my-online-order-hasnt-arrived-what-can-i-do

Some great guidance here if you need it 🙂

I had a tracking number and could track the package until Oklahoma. I don’t think they were delivered there. The company have not responded to any emails I sent, I am hoping the bank may be able to do something. The annoying thing is that they are still advertising on the website.

Thanks, Esther. Of course, that tracking info could be a false trail, and you don’t know whether what was in any package was the Lego you ordered. However, knowing which carrier was used could open up a further line of inquiry to pursue.

If you believe you will get no resolution, contact Newquay police.

Normally, identifying details are not allowed here but as this appears to be some sort of scam, I think I can safely give the address that is on their website as 12 Carloggas Farm Cottages, Carloggas, St Mawgan, Newquay, TR8 4EQ, just in case it disappears.

Persuade the police these people are criminals and you have been a victim of fraud.

China might be behind the scam, but the people at this address might be paid for collecting money or use of their address.

Mrs Shirley Gorham says:
4 December 2020

Me too. I bought Lego thinking it was Black Friday price and knew I would have to pay VAT and carrier fees on delivery. Seemed a good price (John Lewis was similar a few days later ) including the extra charges. When I tracked it I saw that it had been delivered in the US. Emails sent to carrier and John Hardwick. No replies.
I googled the Cornish address – looks like a private home.

Elise says:
9 December 2020

I bought from John Hardwick too, had email from Chinese hotmail address and when checked noticed that the website has now gone! Reporting to my bank

Patrick Taylor says:
9 December 2020

Great stuff Alfa. You are a star.

Wayne says:
2 December 2020

Hi Esther, I’ve looked up John hardwick earlier on trust pilot and there’s some more people who also have been scammed by this web site, some claimed it to be from a Chinese scam source claiming it to be a British company, which would explain the confirmation email I received when I purchased the Lego from a Chinese email reply? All stated same as us not delivered or to the USA , I had checked trust pilot before I ordered my item but at the time there wasn’t any posts.

Wayne says:
3 December 2020

Hi I also wanted to mention, when the money had been taken out of my account it was by the company Hansen wholesale Kidderminster?

Hi Wayne,

I have looked on companies house data and can’t find anything on ‘John Hardwick’ or Hansen wholesale Kidderminster. Then I looked at Trustpilot . . .

Did you get 17track as the delivery company like one of the other victims on trustpilot?

17track appears to be fake accompanied with definite fake reviews:
https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/www.17track.net
https://uk.trustpilot.com/users/5fc770590a6ce00019bfc1bd
https://uk.trustpilot.com/users/5fc4e16c7f35f4001c7492e4

Wayne says:
3 December 2020

Hi Alfa, thank you for the checks, yes i also had 17 trak as the courier, I thought it might be a scam as well, just annoyed because the website is still online and don’t want anymore people being scammed just before Christmas, cheers again

I wonder what the Cornish address has to do with it? It could be absolutely nothing or they could be collecting the money.

Have you thought about getting the police to pay them a visit? I did this once when a company was advertising an older product that was still in demand but sending out the new version. I didn’t get the one I wanted but at least they removed the old product from sale.

This is a little known website that I know very little about and almost forgot it:
https://www.scamdoc.com/
https://www.scamdoc.com/view/441696

It returns a very bad trust score and you can leave your experience of them as a warning to others if they ever find the site.

I too got the 17track delivery company. I contacted the company who my money went to BrightLED lights came up on my statement but they said they had no link to John Hardwick toy shop. I am not sure how the payment can go to them and they not be able to give me any more information?

Here is the analysis of 17 track on Scam Doc that returns a very bad trust score.
https://www.scamdoc.com/view/2494

Oh my god, I too have bought from John hardwick toys & mine seems to have been delivered to an address in Oklahoma City! I’ve emailed & getting no response. They seem to have an address in Cornwall…I’m with Halifax & not really sure what I need to do now? I ordered on the 16th of november

John Hardwick. Me too. I realised the moment the confirmation email came. I reported to the uk police 15th Nov 2020 (Action Fraud), who today replied saying they won’t do anything. I perhaps had more luck with their payment processor (Stripe) who were pretty on it.

It makes me so sad, despite reporting a crime in progress that nothing is done and other victims get scammed. This wasn’t too bad in my case, but I feel for anyone who is now out of pocket and can’t buy Christmas presents.

I replied to an advert on Facebook selling these beautiful animated ornaments of a Christmas tree with little trains running around the tree and also a Santa & sleigh ‘flying’ around the top.They were advertised as the work of Thomas Kincaide. The offer said buy 2 get one free so I ordered the 3. After a long time passing and hearing nothing I sent an email to them. The reply said things were held up because of COVID but I would be receiving my purchases. I paid over $50 through PayPal.
Eventually I received my ‘parcel ‘………….. a flat polythene bag!!!! On opening it I discovered ONE picture of the ornament. I tried to contact the company but their email address had been cancelled so I contacted PayPal . I was offered a partial repayment but I didn’t see why I should accept anything less than what I’d paid. Because I didn’t accept this, the offer was withdrawn and I got nothing!!!
I saw the same advert appearing on Facebook several times, all under different company names! I looked up the company ( from China) and saw that cheating people was the norm for them and not getting a full refund from PayPal being the same!. Apparently PayPal is well aware of what this company does but, I presume, just ignores it because they get a lot of business from them!!!
I tried to add in photos of the ornament and then one of what I actually received but it won’t allow me to do so.