Are there fake stores on Shopify?

Shopify is a popular ecommerce platform that allows anyone to easily create an online store. With over 1 million merchants using Shopify, it offers a powerful and flexible way for businesses and entrepreneurs to sell products online. However, the open nature of Shopify also makes it possible for fake businesses and scammers to take advantage of the platform. So are there fake stores on Shopify? Let’s take a closer look.

What are fake stores?

When we talk about “fake stores” on Shopify, we generally mean stores that appear legitimate but are actually selling counterfeit products, scamming customers, or otherwise operating fraudulently. Some examples of fake Shopify stores include:

  • Stores selling knockoff products and illegally using brand names and logos
  • Stores that take customer payments but never deliver products
  • Stores that sell products at impossibly low prices in order to lure customers
  • “Front” stores that exist solely to collect credit card information from customers
  • Stores that sell products prohibited by Shopify’s Acceptable Use Policy, like illegal drugs

In other words, fake stores aim to trick and deceive customers in order to make fraudulent sales and steal money or information. They often have polished storefronts and professional designs that mimic legitimate businesses.

How can scammers create fake stores on Shopify?

Shopify makes it easy for anyone to create a store and start selling online. All you need to get started is a Shopify account, a domain name, and some basic business information. This low barrier to entry is great for aspiring entrepreneurs but also allows scammers to create seemingly real stores with minimal effort.

Some of the ways scammers set up fake Shopify stores include:

  • Using stolen credit cards or fraudulent information to sign up for a Shopify account
  • Creating a polished, professional storefront with targeted product photography
  • Stealing images and product descriptions from legitimate businesses to use on their store
  • Listing extremely low prices on expensive items to attract customers
  • Using Shopify apps and themes to add credibility to their store
  • Creating fake reviews for their products and store
  • Running paid advertising campaigns on platforms like Facebook and Instagram to drive traffic

In other words, scammers can leverage Shopify’s tools and third-party apps to create a facade of an authentic business. Without looking too closely at the store, customers may believe it to be legitimate.

How can you identify fake Shopify stores?

While scammers can make their stores look convincing, there are often red flags that indicate a Shopify store may be fake. Here are some things to look out for:

  • Prices that are too good to be true – If prices on hot ticket or luxury items seem drastically lower than anywhere else, it’s likely a scam.
  • No business information – Legitimate businesses should list a phone number, address, and business registration details. Missing info is a red flag.
  • Stock photos – Low-quality, generic stock images suggest the store doesn’t actually have the items they are selling.
  • Poor reviews – Credible stores have reasonable amounts of decent reviews. Fake or paid reviews suggest a shady store.
  • Grammatical errors – Sloppy writing and product descriptions full of typos indicate an amateur scammer rather than a real business.
  • Everything is “on sale” – Stores that claim everything is discounted or on sale are often tricking customers into thinking they’re getting deals.
  • No refund policy – Most legitimate stores offer refunds or exchanges if customers are unsatisfied. Scam stores often don’t.

Conducting some basic research on the store and owner, reading reviews, and evaluating the prices and policies can help identify stores that seem dubious. If anything raises alarms, it’s best to avoid purchasing from the store.

Does Shopify take action against fake stores?

Shopify does have measures in place to try to combat fake stores and scams on their platform. Their terms of service prohibit fraudulent and illegal business practices, and they have systems that use AI and human review to try to identify bad stores.

According to their Acceptable Use Policy, Shopify will shut down stores that they believe are fraudulent, illegal, or banned. This includes stores selling stolen goods, violations of intellectual property, regulated or illegal products, services that defraud customers, and certain types of content Shopify deems inappropriate.

Shopify also states in their policy that they reserve the right to suspend payouts to stores that are deemed high risk or where Shopify anticipates potential customer disputes, chargebacks or other indicators of potential fraud. This allows them to cut off scammers’ ability to get paid.

In addition, Shopify has a Shopify Experts team that performs manual reviews of stores to check for violations when automatic filters don’t catch issues. Customers can also report suspicious stores directly to Shopify via their support channels.

However, some critics argue that Shopify does not do enough to quickly find and remove fake stores. Because Shopify’s business model makes money from subscription fees from stores, there is a financial incentive to avoid excessively policing merchants until problems arise.

There are also limits to what Shopify can detect and prevent given the huge number of merchants using the platform. Overall, Shopify does have some policies and protections in place against scams, but some fake stores inevitably slip through the cracks.

Tips for spotting fake Shopify stores

When buying from a Shopify store you don’t recognize, there are steps you can take to vet the store and avoid falling victim to a scam:

  • Google the store name and look for any reviews or complaints.
  • Check who the store is registered to and verify they are a real business.
  • Look for solid social proof like Facebook followers and Instagram engagement.
  • Be wary of prices that seem too good to be true.
  • Evaluate the store’s policies like shipping, returns, etc.
  • Use a credit card when paying so you can dispute fraudulent charges.
  • Beware of sellers using messenger apps to complete purchases.
  • Trust your instincts – if a store feels fishy, it probably is.

Taking the time to thoroughly vet a new Shopify store before purchasing can save you from losing money and information to a scam. When in doubt, stick to established stores with good reviews and transparent business practices.

Examples of known fake Shopify stores

While Shopify does not publicly list all the stores and scams they have removed, there are some notable examples of fake stores on Shopify that have been exposed:

  • Boutique Rugs – A store selling designer rugs at impossibly low prices. Customers paid but never received their rugs.
  • Koala Kloud – A store claiming to sell Apple products but sending counterfeit or inferior imitation devices instead.
  • Lens Pro Gallery – A scam store reselling cheap sunglasses but claiming they were from luxury brands like Ray-Ban. Used fake reviews.
  • Stadium Goods – A sneaker reseller took customer payments but never delivered products. Not affiliated with the real Stadium Goods.
  • Salvatori’s – A fake furniture store with prices too good to be true. Faked Shipify trust badges to appear legitimate.

These examples show the need for caution when shopping on Shopify, as convincing scam stores do exist on the platform. But by staying alert to red flags, you can often spot and avoid these fraudulent stores.

How big of an issue are fake stores on Shopify?

It’s difficult to quantify exactly how many fake or fraudulent Shopify stores exist. Shopify does not release data on store takedowns or scams, and many customers may not realize they have been scammed.

However, there are a few key points that provide some insight:

  • With over 1 million seller accounts, Shopify has a large ecosystem that scammers can blend into.
  • Shopify is growing rapidly, with new stores constantly being opened which makes oversight challenging.
  • As ecommerce grows, online scams are becoming more sophisticated and prevalent in general.
  • High profile fake Shopify scams regularly make the news and customer complaint sites.
  • Experts argue Shopify could be more proactive in fighting fakes due to their financial motivations.

While hard statistics are lacking, the consensus seems to be that fakes make up a very small percentage of all Shopify stores, but still likely number in the hundreds or low thousands.

The vast majority of Shopify sellers are legitimate businesses. But with over a million stores, even a fraction of 1% still represents a meaningful number of fake stores that can steal tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Overall, scams on Shopify remain relatively limited compared to the whole, but are still an issue worth being aware of as a consumer.

Notable scams and controversies

Some of the biggest fake Shopify scandals that have made headlines include:

  • PriceZa – A scam store stole over $1 million by selling discounted luxury watches that were never delivered.
  • FraudFox – A fake app exploited Shopify admin access to defraud 200+ stores of $1.3 million.
  • FB Shop Stores – Thousands of fake Facebook shops stole money and credit card info from customers.
  • Kylie Cosmetics – A fake beauty store scammed $100,000 with stolen images and lower prices.
  • Online Spin – Hackers compromised this store to install credit card skimming malware that stole customer payment info.

These examples show that while not endemic, multimillion dollar Shopify scams do occur and make headlines relatively frequently. They exploit both Shopify’s systems and customers’ trust in stores that may appear legitimate at first glance.

Steps Shopify takes to fight fakes

Shopify does take measures to combat fake stores and protect customers, including:

  • Requiring all sellers submit identity verification
  • Suspending payouts to unverified or suspicious stores
  • Using AI and analytic tools to detect high-risk stores
  • Employing human fraud investigators to manually review stores
  • Removing stores that violate their Acceptable Use Policy
  • Cooperating with law enforcement to prosecute scammers
  • Offering tutorials and info to help customers spot scams

Experts say Shopify could do even more, such as being quicker to suspend stores at the first sign of suspicion instead of waiting for proof. But Shopify notes that completely eliminating risk is impossible while maintaining an open marketplace.

Overall, Shopify does appear earnest in trying to balance customer security with store owner rights. But some fakes will inevitably slip through given the platform’s scale and complexity.

Shopify’s stance on fake stores

When asked about fraudulent stores, Shopify typically gives a response along these lines:

Shopify is committed to providing a safe and trustworthy commerce platform. Our Terms of Service prohibit any attempt to engage in fraudulent behavior on our platform. We have multiple systems and controls in place to identify and remove bad actors. However, no marketplace can completely eliminate risk. We take our role in protecting consumers seriously and are constantly improving our capabilities.

In other words, Shopify acknowledges fakes as an unavoidable downside to having an open platform, but states they are constantly updating systems and policies to mitigate the problem. They are incentivized to combat scams to build customer and merchant trust in their platform.

Shopify also points out that less than one tenth of 1% of all orders on Shopify involve a fraud claim, suggesting most problems come from a tiny fraction of sellers rather than being systemic.

Critics argue that Shopify still allows too many dubious stores to operate and waits too long before taking action. But overall Shopify does appear to take fake store issues seriously, even if not handling them quite as aggressively as some would like.

Is Shopify safe for buyers?

The vast majority of Shopify stores are run by genuine sellers, so shopping on Shopify is generally quite safe. Issues to keep in mind include:

  • Scams make up a very tiny percentage of all stores, but risk still exists.
  • Shopify’s protections are good but not flawless in catching all fake stores.
  • Stick to established, reviewed stores you can thoroughly vet.
  • Be vigilant for red flags like prices that seem unrealistic.
  • Avoid making payments directly via money transfer apps.
  • Use buyer protection services on your payment method.

Exercising reasonable caution goes a long way when buying on Shopify. Millions of buyers have positive experiences and receive legitimate products. But it pays to be alert to warning signs of potential scams and verify seller reputation.

Can you get scammed buying on Shopify?

Yes, it is possible to get scammed or sold counterfeit products when purchasing from some Shopify stores. Common risks include:

  • Paying for items that are never shipped.
  • Receiving fake or knockoff products that are different than advertised.
  • Having credit card info stolen by fake stores.
  • Being sold products that are illegal or dangerous.
  • Paying higher prices than market rate due to “sales” or coupons.
  • Getting tricked into purchasing non-refundable digital goods that don’t work as advertised.

These types of scams do occur on occasion. But the likelihood remains low given Shopify’s protections and the small number of fraudulent sellers.

The best way to avoid getting scammed is to thoroughly research any unfamiliar Shopify stores, read reviews, look for red flags, and use common sense when evaluating deals that seem too good to be true.

Final thoughts on fake Shopify stores

While Shopify has revolutionized ecommerce with its easy-to-use platform, this accessibility also enables some scammers and bad actors to take advantage of unwary customers.

Fake stores do exist on Shopify and periodic scams rob customers of millions. However, diligent buyers can largely avoid problems by being cautious when shopping from new stores.

No marketplace can ever be 100% scam-proof while maintaining openness. But Shopify does appear to take their role in fighting fakes seriously, and continue improving their protections.

By using common sense and following best practices around verifying unknown sellers, the vast majority of Shopify customers enjoy safe and satisfactory buying experiences.

With some prudent awareness and caution, Shopify remains one of the most trustworthy platforms for ecommerce in the current landscape.


In summary, while the risk of fake stores on Shopify exists, the overwhelmingly majority of sellers on the platform are legitimate businesses. By being an informed buyer, verifying seller information, and using common sense, Shopify customers can largely avoid falling victim to scams.

Shopify does actively work to identify and remove fraudulent stores, but an occasional few may slip through given the sheer scale of the platform. Avoiding unfamiliar, unreviewed stores and watching for red flags goes a long way in staying secure.

Overall, Shopify remains one of the safest and most trustworthy options for online shopping available today. But buyers should exercise a reasonable degree of caution, as with any ecommerce platform.

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