Beware of These Brands That May Be Stealing Your Photos

rose galWhen Pascale Rowe, a.k.a. @MsBlingMiami (who has 500k+ followers on Instagram), posted a selfie while wearing her bright yellow, green and blue maxi dress, it got more than 7,500 likes. Little did she know that a company called ModLily would use the photo (albeit a headless version) to advertise selling the dress for just $25.46 (marked down from $63.65).

But anyone who ordered the dress likely received a poorly-made knockoff in cheap material that smelled like chemicals, rather than the lovely version Rowe wore in her photos.

Rowe wasn't even aware of the ad until Buzzfeed contacted her about an investigative report they recently published, which found that a collection of fashion companies based in China has been stealing bloggers' photos and using them to create Facebook ads. They then advertise the garment at an outrageously cheap price, but once it appears on your doorstep, it looks nothing like what you thought you ordered.

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The brands are owned by a Chinese company called Global Egrow, and include Zaful, SammyDress, DressLily, RoseGal, RoseWe, TideBuy, Choies, RomWe and others. We've received solicitations from several of the names on this list and you probably have too. The damning report makes it clear it they wouldn't be a good partner for any blogger—and they might already be making you one without your knowledge.

The report suggests that the companies use shady tactics including deleting negative comments and posts on their pages, and listing bogus contact info.

Analysis by BuzzFeed News shows that at least eight of them are connected to one Chinese e-commerce company that made more than $200 million in sales in 2014. That same year it was acquired by one of China’s best-known clothing companies, a publicly-listed giant run by one of the country’s richest men.

…the sellers keep thriving, especially on Facebook, where the social network’s loose policing and massive scale make it the ideal place to target women looking for a deal.

Facebook says the companies aren't violating their advertising guidelines, so they can't take action against them. But one online marketing expert quoted in the article, Jasmine Griffith, believes Facebook is “complicit in accepting money from this scam ring.”

Until Facebook does something about these dubious brands, keep an eye out for deals that seem too good to be true—and for your Instagram photos being used without your permission.

[Photos via Buzzfeed via Facebook]



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About The Author

In addition to being editor at IFB, Kristen writes for Forbes, Eat, Sleep, Denim, and her own blog, Stylenik. Previously, she served as the San Francisco editor for Racked, covering the intersection of retail, fashion, and technology. She has written about everything from human cloning to luxury shopping for publications including Wired, Gizmodo, Refinery 29, and the San Francisco Chronicle. She lives in a '70s house in '70s clothes on the Northern California coast. 

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15 Responses

  1. Meredith

    I’d love if bloggers themselves wouldn’t link to these websites. I’ve clicked on way too many LikeToKnow.It links that lead me to one of these sites.

  2. Anna

    Wow fascinating! Is there any way to check if your photos were stolen? (I’m a
    Blogger). I agree with the commenter above, you need to be careful and not just post any link!

  3. Kristen

    I’d love to know if SheInside.com is involved and owned by this brand – I have a feeling they may be.


  4. Glenda

    Thank you for this. I was contacted by several of these shoddy business, but I just delete them without responding.

  5. Jacqueline Carlisle

    It’s unfortunate China has endured a bad reputation for poor manufacturing practices because not they aren’t all like that. A greater concern is who is making these clothes? Are they in a safe environment? Are they working for slave wages? Remember Rana Plaza? If you don’t know about Rana Plaza or have forgotten. Rana Plaza collapsed in Bangladesh killing 1100 people mostly women who were locked in a factory (being overworked and underpaid) that had worrying structural damage. The owner ignored the structural damage out of greed putting countless people who risked their lives for clothing sold by Top Shop, Joe Fresh, J.C. Penney & Forever 21. It may not mean anything to you but if you’re able to watch “Dying for Fashion” you will see these women just wanted to make a living. Some wanted pocket money, others were helping their families. Some were saving to go to university. The ripple effect is felt global scale. No one should have to die for fashion, you get what you paid for.

  6. Bivi

    Oh yes, it’s baffling how some bloggers still partner up with these brands, especially Romwe, since it has stolen so many illustrations from various illustrators across the globe that I know and love as well. It’s a wonder how big it got for a couple years and how much coverage it received from bloggers—especially in America. I’ve contacted them once in regard of a stolen illustration but, instead of apologising or even acknowledging my criticism. I recommend all bloggers to beware and DO NOT SUPPORT THEM IN ANY WAY!

    Alive as Always

  7. Osy osehie

    I have actually shopped at Chioes about 2 years ago and didn’t have a problem with my items. I wasn’t sure about the quality so i bout only a couple midi skirts which came out great. I haven’t shopped there in a while because of the the delivery time.
    But on the other hand, I had accepted a collaboration from dresslily last year and got the most crappy item i have ever seen. I sent them back an email that I wont be making any post for them.

  8. Jenn - The Stylish Housewife

    I had an image used without my permission by SheInside. A reader actually sent me a snap notifying me that she saw them using it. They also created a FB ad using the same image. I contacted them and got a response within hours that they would remove my image. I was impressed with how quickly they responded, although still annoyed that they used my image without permission (I have never collaborated with SheInside although they’ve contacted me several times requesting to) . I also had another image stolen and used to make a FB ad promoting Fabletics by a third party. When I contacted the ad company, they never responded. When I informed Fabletics, their legal team must’ve reached them because it was removed immediately.


  9. dahi k.

    i would like to know how to check if my photos were also stolen. what a dubious thing. and i’ve already cooperated with rosegal – the clothes were great, nevertheless, but reading this is quite disturbing.

  10. Rebecca

    Another one of these scam sites is Noracora. Caught them stealing pics and info from Sundance ervsite for a $600 coat and pretending to sell the same one same pic for $30. I kept pics to prove it. It was google who advertised this illegal website on my phone while reading komo news online. Does Google know they are advertising illegal activities?

  11. Robin Michetti

    I would like to know where one can buy the actual clothing that these Chinese rip-off artists use to sell their crap clothing.

    • Lisa

      Me too…….love the style. Cannot find anything similar. Have placed 2 orders with noracora did not realize it was a scam!

  12. Cindy

    I figured out these companies were scammers long ago when I recognized some of the photos from a Sundance catalog. What I would love is a way to find the actual creators the some of the clothes these scammers have stolen. There are some really cute clothes out there that I’d love to buy from the legit manufacturer