Human hair is a popular product for many women who want to make their hair more manageable. Hair extensions are popular among African American women, who often use this for the length of the hair. Sometimes people will sell their natural or synthetic human hair on sites like eBay or Craigslist, but you need to know that not all of it is authentic.
Brent A. Wilking of Barrington, Illinois pleaded guilty to selling synthetic hair online that was advertised as authentic human hair, according to the U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division website. He admitted to selling fake hair for $250,000 between 2009 and 2012.
This isn’t the first time someone has been caught selling fake human hair online. In 2011, a woman named Yileen (Jill) Rosengaus pleaded guilty in New York federal court of selling fake human-hair wigs on eBay . “According to documents filed today in Manhattan federal court , Jill Rosengaus made at least $3 million by selling over 4,500 Chinese-manufactured synthetic wigs she fraudulently misrepresented as made from real human hair. The defendant sold both synthetic and human hair wigs on eBay through the website www.yilexgirl.com, which no longer operates.”
A California man named Felix Kwan Or was found guilty of selling over 200 fake wigs to a wig shop in Atlanta . He was helped by his sister Victoria Yee, who received a lighter sentence because she testified against her brother. “The evidence showed that Kwan conspired with his sister to sell knockoff designer brand imitation wigs at a discount price, falsely representing that they were made of natural human hair,” according to the U.S. District Court Northern District of California website . This ring operated under several companies including HairKandy LLC , WigGlam LLC, WigsKandy LLC, and Hair We Go Inc .
Investigations have revealed that many of these knock-off wigs are made in China. There are several different methods used to make fake hair so it’s difficult for the average consumer to determine if they’re buying real or fake human-hair wigs.
“There are a number of tricks criminals will use to try to sell you imitation goods – here are just some examples: synthetic fibers may be colored with industrial dyes, which can last longer than natural dyes but also tend to fade faster; wefts can be glued together rather than stitched; hairs from different origins could be mixed into the same we; and false advertising may mean that a wig is labeled as human hair, but it is actually synthetic”, says a 2010 report from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency .
In May 2002, several men were indicted for importing fake wigs from China. “The indictment charges that these defendants conspired to bring mislabeled wigs into the United States from China for distribution in this country,” said Attorney General John Ashcroft after the indictments were announced . These arrests were part of a large investigation called Operation Wig Conduit , which also involved agents from Homeland Security Investigation and agents from the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations. “Operation Wig Conduit targeted an international criminal enterprise responsible for smuggling thousands of pounds of counterfeit human hair used in the manufacture of women’s and men’s wigs and hairpieces. The smuggled counterfeit human hair, most of it from China , came in bales and was often filthy or contaminated by disease”, says the Operation Wig Conduit website .
These cases may be few and far between, but they continue to pop up here and there. So how can you ensure that you’re buying real human-hair? According to John Beck of eBay, “remnants” are a good indicator of whether something is fake. He also recommends looking at the listing’s photos for signs of tampering or glue marks. Other warning signs include poor descriptions of the item with misspellings or bad grammar.
Another option is to purchase your hair from a reputable outlet like a wig shop or beauty supply store.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide whether you’re willing to take a risk when buying products online. It’s important to know that there are fake knock-offs in every industry and that some people will go through great lengths to make a quick buck. Doing your research can help you avoid becoming another statistic, which is why it’s vital for consumers to leave reviews after they make purchases online. While many websites have systems in place for reporting fraudulent activity, eBay does not . As stated on their website : “If you want to report an item or seller that violates our terms – maybe because of suspected fraud or misrepresentation – please contact us”. Unfortunately this policy leaves unsuspecting customers susceptible to losing money.
Fortunately, most online retailers have a system in place to help consumers with this predicament. While most customer service departments can’t do much once you’ve already purchased an item, most will investigate questionable activity and issue refunds if necessary . Make sure that you report any suspicious activity to the company through channels like the Customer Service department or Order Inquiries section of their website. This way, both parties are protected if anything goes wrong after the purchase is made.
It’s also important to know your rights as a consumer when purchasing items from foreign websites. “Federal laws prohibit spamming based on payment methods used for fulfillment of orders,” says a survey done by Consumer Affairs . If a sale is contingent upon using a wire transfer rather than a credit card, then the sale is illegal. Websites that are found guilty of violating this law can face up to five years in prison and fines as high as $250,000 . Another thing to consider is how websites use your email address. To comply with spam laws, legitimate retailers who operate internationally “should not purchase lists or otherwise acquire addresses from third parties outside their organization”, says Consumer Affairs . If a company does end up acquiring your email address from another source, they must put you on the “Citizenship Opt-Out” list prior to sending promotional mails.
If you’ve had any bad experiences with online retailers (or good ones!), leave a comment below