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Harambe T-shirt scam cons $600 from student

Don't Waste Your Moneey
Posted at 10:29 AM, Sep 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-16 16:04:44-04

Harambe, the Cincinnati Zoo's fallen gorilla, has become an internet meme, a phenomenon, and a legend in the months since his death.

But one college student as been ripped off for hundreds of dollars trying to buy a T shirt to memorialize Harambe, and has a warning for  all of us.

Google Search for Harambe Shirt

Kyle Zimmerman is a savvy University of Cincinnati college student. But even the brightest of us can fall for a scam.

Zimmerman wanted a T-shirt honoring Harambe.

"I just did a quick Google search for a "R.I.P. Harambe shirt, he said, "and the first thing that came up was Etsy."

Etsy -- a sort of Amazon for homemade crafts -- has dozens of Harambe shirts, handmade by members, listed for sale on its site.

"I found one for $25, and ordered it right then and there from my phone," Zimmerman said.

But the next day, Zimmerman received a receipt for $625!

"The email opened up and said "Quantity 1, $25, " "Shipping $600," he said.  He was stunned.  $600 to ship what was  probably a $5 dollar shirt?

Furious, he checked the seller's listing, where he discovered "he doesn't do cancelations or refunds, only returns."    

Seller Deletes Profile

So he disputed the charge through his credit card and bank. But the bank couldn't stop the charge, because he explains,"the bank said I accepted terms and conditions of the seller, and so it was on me."

The good news: after he emailed Etsy, the site agreed to refund the blatant shipping rip-off. An Etsy spokeswoman pointed to their rules, which state that inflated shipping fees (beyond what shipping really costs) violate its policies, and are strictly prohibited

Attempts to reach the seller were futile, though, as he had deleted his post and entire profile.

Zimmerman admits he missed Etsy's safety tips, explained on its website, that say:

  • Check seller feedback.
  • Contact the seller directly through their "Conversations" feature, and learn more about him or her.
  • Read the seller's shipping fees and return policies.

Etsy says it is investigating the seller, who has disappeared. But this is a reminder that Etsy, like Craigslist and eBay, are marketplaces, not sellers.  You have to check each seller individually.

Next time Zimmerman wants a shirt, he says he will "make sure I check the details, because you could look for a cheap shirt, but end up hit for $600."

That way you don't waste your money.

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