Selling miniature replicas to unsuspecting shoppers:
Online marketplaces sell tiny pink cowboy hats. They also sell miniature pencil sharpeners, palm-size kitchen utensils, scaled-down books and camping chairs so small they evoke the Stonehenge scene in “This Is Spinal Tap.” Many of the minuscule objects aren’t clearly advertised.
But there is no doubt some online sellers deliberately trick customers into buying smaller and often cheaper-to-produce items, Witcher said. Common tactics include displaying products against a white background rather than in room sets or on models, or photographing items with a perspective that makes them appear bigger than they really are. Dimensions can be hidden deep in the product description, or not included at all.
In those instances, the duped consumer “may say, well, it’s only $1, $2, maybe $3—what’s the harm?” Witcher said. When the item arrives the shopper may be confused, amused or frustrated, but unlikely to complain or demand a refund.
“When you aggregate that to these companies who are selling hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of these items over time, that adds up to a nice chunk of change,” Witcher said. “It’s finding a loophole in how society works and making money off of it.”
Defrauding a lot of people out of a small amount each can be a very successful way of making money.