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Etsy Works to Block Future Scammers from Setting up Bot Shops

Scammers targeted Etsy in an unusual attack over the long Independence Day holiday weekend, and the marketplace had the situation under control by Monday morning.

On Saturday, Etsy sellers began reporting “bot shops,” and it was through their efforts the marketplace took action against the scammers. As we reported on Monday, scammers opened hundreds of shops on Etsy containing listings copied from other sellers; it appeared the perpetrators were taking orders (and presumably payments) with no intention of fulfilling them.

Etsy’s head of Marketplace Integrity Sarah Abramson posted the following message in the Etsy forums on Sunday evening:

“Thanks for bringing this to our attention. The Trust & Safety team is investigating this now, and will address any issues we find directly with the shop owners.

“We’re grateful that you alerted us to this situation. I can see your flags and reports coming into our queues- please keep them coming! Your observations are very helpful.

“If you come across any other shops that your concerned about, please use the “Report this item” button on the bottom right corner of each listing.

“We appreciate your help!”

In response to our inquiry, an Etsy spokesperson told EcommerceBytes, “We were aware of the problem on Sunday morning, and began taking action immediately. As Sarah says, sellers can help by flagging these scammer shops, but they don’t need to do anything to their listings or shops at this time. We’re actively investigating and working to block future shops of this nature from opening.”

How to Find Bot Shops
Sellers were in the dark about how to find the “bot shops.” One method used was to look at newly listed items that were priced at 99 cents with a quantity of 999. Users then searched for the same listing title and found the legitimate shop and the scam shop in the search results.

Users debated whether Etsy should have discouraged sellers from discussing the scams on the forums – see what they had to say, and leave your own comment on the EcommerceBytes Blog.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.