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Retail return fraud running rampant, viral TikToks show

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Imagine getting a hefty discount code from Saks Fifth Avenue, ordering a designer item and opening the perfectly packaged delivery only to find a can of Bumble Bee tuna. 

It happened to Bailey Cormier, who was so awestruck by the strange turn of events that she made a TikTok account just to share her story.

“I am the most perplexed and confused I’ve ever been in my entire life,” she said in one video

“I got an email from Saks Fifth Avenue, and it was basically like a random 15%, 20% or 25% off one item. I was like, ‘Okay, well, obviously I’m gonna do that,’ so I chose a Dolce & Gabbana ashtray,” she continued.

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She unboxed the item as she spoke, steering the camera toward an exterior Saks Fifth Avenue box, cellophane wrap and the black Dolce & Gabbana filled with a black foam insert still bearing the circular imprint of the tuna can inside.

“This is what I found,” she claimed, holding up the can. “A can of albacore tuna… there’s nothing underneath… I don’t know if someone from the warehouse took it and replaced it… but this is the most f—ing expensive can of tuna I’ve ever bought.”

Cormier posted additional TikTok videos to document the story, including one with her messages complaining to Saks Fifth Avenue’s customer service about the ordeal.

“I don’t know whether to laugh or cry,” she captioned the video. “Shoutout to Roger who finally helped me on the phone.”

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Cormier eventually received a replacement order for the silver-trimmed blue and white porcelain ashtray, which she unboxed in a later video and showed how she is using the item as a trinket holder on her coffee table.

Noting an “increase in online fraud,” Sakes Fifth Avenue said it is enforcing “more rigorous steps” in its return process. 

“We take our customer experience very seriously. Across the retail industry, there has been an increase in online fraud, particularly related to returns. Luxury continues to be a target given its high price points, and as such, we have implemented more rigorous steps in our return process, including additional reviews and stronger authentication. Our highly automated fulfillment centers manage millions of shipments every year, but it is not acceptable for even a small number of our customers to have this experience,” a spokesperson said in a statement to Fox News Digital. 

“Regarding the Dolce & Gabbana ashtray, given the unusual nature of this situation, our team carefully investigated, and it appears that the item originally sent to the customer had been a fraudulent return. Upon learning of the situation, our team made a replacement order on behalf of the customer. We apologize for any inconvenience as this is not reflective of the luxury shopping experience for which Saks is known.” 

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Fraudulent returns have become increasingly concerning for retailers as an Appriss Retail and the National Retail Federation survey estimates 13.7% of returns – or $101 billion worth – were fraudulent in 2023.

Return fraud can also come in different forms with returners handing back stolen goods or even claiming an order wasn’t delivered when it actually was.

Other TikTokers shared similar experiences with shopping online, including one who said she received imitation Bottega slides. After taking the item to a Bottega Veneta store to be authenticated, she was told it was fake. 

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Two separate TikTokers also made complaints about perfume orders. 

One named Denny claimed the box came full of batteries. A separate TikToker named Katie Skli claimed she ordered perfume but received a bottle with oddly-colored contents, also noting that it didn’t fit the larger box and the extra space had been filled with black paper.

“Not what I ordered. Not what I wanted,” she said.

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