UPDATE: Looking at the comments on this blog so far, it's definitely a scam, not a bad way of handling operations

On the 9th December 2019, I received an SMS that genuinely piqued my interest.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t entertain any unsolicited offers but I am a luxury fountain pen fanboy, and Mont Blanc is a highly coveted name. Add to that, the SMS sender had a Sender-ID, (i.e. QP-MONTDE, QP-MONTBI etc.) which (I believe) is not very easy to get – you have to prove that you own and run a business by that name.

FUN FACT: The QP in QP-MONTDE means that the SMS was sent using Videocon’s 
(Q) SMS gateway in Punjab (P). A list of sender ID prefixes can be found here: 

If I was going to order from this seller (reseller?) I had to be absolutely sure that they were genuine. That meant confirming that the website was genuinely associated with Mont Blanc. To do that, I needed to see what the URL, i.e. https://bitly.com/32AUdoP led to. Thankfully, I knew about bit.ly’s PLUS stats feature, where you can add a ‘+’ sign at the end of a bit.ly link to see details about the URL, i.e. by going to: https://bitly.com/32AUdoP+. As you can see for yourself, the domain name showed montblancindia.com, which seemed like something Mont Blanc might use for their India-specific site from a domain name perspective.

So, I went ahead, selected a pen I liked, and added the discount code.

That’s when I began to see the typical telltale signs of a frauds, such as incorrectly placed capital letters, spelling mistakes and bad punctuation etc.

The cautious thing to do here was to tweet at the official, verified twitter handle of Mont Blanc (@montblanc_world) and get my suspicions confirmed. I got a reply from them, which confirmed my suspicions that this was, in all likelihood, a defrauding scheme of some kind.

As a customer, my first instinct was to forget the whole thing and move on. As a security researcher, I wanted to delve deeper into this defrauding scheme and figure out what their end-goal was. As a Mont Blanc fanboy, I wanted to protect my favorite brand of pens from being used as a scam-bait.

So, I searched for “mont blanc India” on Google, and, lo! The first result was this very site, i.e. montblancindia.com!

Now, you should know that having the first result on Google Search does not mean that a site is genuine. It simply means a site has taken efforts to do some Search Engine Optimization, i.e. to appear at the top of search results. However, the average guy would definitely consider this as a trustworthy development and assume that the site was genuine.

I decided to don the mask of a ‘trusting customer’ and selected a pen (again) for purchase. Only, this time, I ordered it using Cash on Delivery.

Not surprisingly, I got SMS confirmation as well as email confirmation of the order. However, the email went straight to my spam! When I dug some more, I found that the mail had actually come from montblancSindia.com – note the presence of an extra ‘s’ between ‘blanc’ and ‘india’.

A quick whois query reveals that this domain, i.e. montblancSindia (with the S) is privacy protected and hosted behind cloudflare, but the main domain, i.e. montblancindia.com (without the S) is registered by, well, let’s just say NOT Mont Blanc!

Another interesting thing I could note was that montblancSindia.com (the domain from which I received the email) hosts its mail server on Office365, i.e. they don’t mind spending some money on keeping this operation running…

Along with SMS confirmation, I also received a message in WhatsApp from a Business account that had its name set as ‘SB’. If there wasn’t enough suspicion about this whole thing, this certainly should trigger it in any average person. I mean, why wouldn’t Mont Blanc India choose to put their own name on their WhatsApp Business account?

Now, I was one hundred percent sure that this was definitely a fraud but I had already decided to play along, so I continued to do that and decided to update my experience in the same twitter thread that started this investigation. Here’s a link to the thread: https://twitter.com/rohit11/status/1204251790478172162

After the message on WhatsApp, I got a call from a local cell number ‘to discuss’ my order. The person on the other end of the line offered an ‘additional 6% discount’ if I paid them online via GooglePay/PayTM.

My fraud detection meters instantly went crazy because, as everyone knows, if you pay using a wallet, UPI, or netbanking, the money is instantly deducted from your account and is very difficult to get back. There are no chargeback policies offered by any of the vendors in case you accidentally send money or if you happen to fall for frauds like these.

[CONTEXT] PayTM and Google Pay are payments apps (similar to Venmo or 
CashApp) that are highly popular with Indian users. Accounts on these apps are identified 
using mobile numbers and you never get to see any bank details while sending or receiving 
money through these apps.

Typically, in most vishing scams, the caller doesn’t display good command over language. Their intention is to get you to commit to the scheme and defraud you of your money. In this case however, the person I spoke to over the phone seemed well-educated and spoke fluent English. It might have made some people assume/believe that this whole thing was actually run by a classy establishment, and not a fraud scheme.

I decided to stump the person calling me by telling them that that I already tweeted about it to Mont Blanc and was told that TataCliq was the only authorized reseller. I received a reply saying that they were actually calling from Richemont India and they were clearing their 2017 stock. This is a very believable but it is, most likely, a blatant lie. BTW there could be a possibility of all of this being true but point to note there is action by them is very much fraud like

So, I asked for their money transfer account instead of GooglePay/PayTM. This seemed to fluster the person at the other end of the line but, to their credit, they recovered immediately and ‘informed’ me that the account details they would give me would be those of Richemont India, which deals with reselling luxury products in India.

Here’s an important note for all of you out there: If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, NEVER agree to send money to a ‘different’ account, regardless of what excuses you are given.

I adamantly insisted for Cash on Delivery and hung up.

Around 15 minutes later, I got another call, this time from a non-Indian number (+41225480350) but with the caller speaking in an obvious Indian accent but a very polished English again. The caller informed me that he is calling from the Swiss office of Mont Blanc and repeated the same story, i.e. “it is old stock”, “having a clearance sale and 2 year international warranty”, etc.

When I confronted them about the tweet, I was told that the ‘twitter handle is managed by Amazon as Mont Blanc is an Amazon company now, they don’t want any local reseller and want to sell only via Amazon.’ I’m paraphrasing here, but this was essentially the gist of my conversation with the caller.

Naturally, I immediately tweeted this to the official verified handle of Mont Blanc on Twitter and immediately got a response from them:

A day later, I got a call from another unknown number telling me that my order was dispatched and will reach me soon. The caller insisted that opening the delivery was not allowed before paying the cash to the delivery guy. I was surprised by the insistence on the condition because it is a well-known fact – products are not handed over to customers until the money is handed over. The caller insisting upon this raised another red flag in my head.

At this point I counter-insisted that I wouldn’t pay without opening the box and confirming that the product is genuine. The caller then informed me that it was not possible and that they were returning the package. This was probably meant to instill a sense of FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out – in me, to make me reconsider but I stayed adamant and hung up on the call.

The next day, I received a message on WhatsApp from an unknown number, with the account details claiming to be “Delivery Care Team”.

I reiterated my stance that I wasn’t going to pay unless I was allowed to open the box, to which I received no response. The only update I received in that chat was a message saying that my package was out for delivery.

[CONTEXT] Although e-commerce deliveries in India are managed by private firms or courier services, none of them have sent me any messages of this kind over WhatsApp, AFAIK.

As of today, the status hasn’t changed. I got a call today as well saying the package is out for delivery, and that I can pay via cash as the card-swiping machine is not available with delivery person. I continued to insist that I won’t accept without opening the package, to which the caller seemed to relent. They said they would instruct the delivery person to allow me to open and inspect the contents of the package – a violation of the standard delivery process.

Let me reiterate that: This person, who was at first insistent that they could not violate the standard delivery protocol, was now suddenly okay with violating it, as long as I was ready to pay the money and accept the product. RED FLAG!

The delivery guy still hasn’t come around yet, so all of this still remains unresolved. However, I called up the toll-free number (+1-800-995-4810) I found on the official Mont Blanc website (i.e. montblanc.com) and told them my story. They told me that they were aware of this fraud and that they were indeed taking legal action against this Indian company.

That, sadly, is where things stand as of this moment. If there are any updates to this story, I will certainly add them to this article, as and when they happen.

A Few Observations:

The cost of the pen I purchased is about INR 11,000 (around $130) after ‘discount’, which puts the pen in the ‘luxury goods’ category. In other words, a typical buyer of this pen is likely to be a highly affluent individual, and not the average person who falls in a middle-income bracket.

Sadly, in most cases, these affluent buyers are often either in a hurry, or extremely gullible and, therefore, unlikely to be very cautious. They are highly unlikely to see any of the warning signs that I happened to see, much less go looking for them. If (or, when) they do end up getting defrauded, the affluent buyer will (most likely) ignore a loss of INR11,000 rather than going after the fraudsters. The fraudsters, however, stand to make a good chunk of money. For a fraudster, that makes the perfect mark – someone with tons of money to spend and little to no motivation in recovering any of their sunk cost.

A quick glance at the bit.ly data linked earlier in this article shows that the link in the SMS was clicked by around 25000 people (and counting) since early November. Even if you assume a 1% conversion rate, i.e. 1% of people purchasing these pens online, that’s 250 people losing money to this (evidently) fraudulent scheme!

The fact that these fraudsters INVESTED money in purchasing domain names, privacy features, web-hosting, email servers, premium SMS services, ability to call from international number and hired seemingly well-educated employees tells me this isn’t their first rodeo and it most certainly won’t be their last.

For 1% this could be a genuine operation as well by Richemont India clearing their old stock and if it is, they are certainly handling the operations very very wrong way. They need to take a session on how to handle things properly in ecommerce.

UPDATE – (21st Jan 2020)

montblancindia.com is offline and montblancsindia.com is selling shoes online. May be moved over to next scam.

UPDATE – (30th April 2020)
Fraudsters are commenting on the blog pretending to be customers who have got genuine product

50 thoughts on “Mont Blanc India – An interesting fraud or a real bad way of handling operations

  1. Very well written piece Rohit. It’s amazing to to see how well they are running the scams. It’s just the time when they will employ professional content writers and fix the other red flags we might see. The will get more interesting. With many good things to learn, this is a good read, neat research.

    1. I have been duped by the same guys for Rs. 12000 & a fake pen was sent. When i protested they offered and exchange and im awaiting it. Im sure it will be another fake. I had prepaid on a credit card. Is there any way to punish these guys? The money is already gone

      1. Am also a victim.
        Anyone having an idea on the direction forward to get the money back, please flag on my mail ID.

      1. Rohit I wish I had read your blog earlier
        I have purchased a Mont Blanc belt for ₹14125
        And they have sent me the wrong one and now I am just following them up for replacement
        Is there any way we can correct them or go to consumer forum will help recovering the money spent

  2. An interesting & well written piece Rohit! Detailing all aspects of the fraud MO & the tell tale red flags is most enlightening.

    1. Rohit can u explain? The toll free number on site which u say is fake u dialled that ie 18009954810
      According to u if this site is fake number should be fake . When u called them why did they say that scheme is fake.they should have given a positive response

      1. Looks like they have gone ahead and subscribed a toll free number as well. Google this toll free number and it’s there on all such connected fraud sites

  3. Montblancsindia.com Website is very much active as we speak. Good Heavens, i was gypped once by a dear friend of mine who sold me a knockoff version of a Montblanc a decade back claiming it was original one , and i knew i was cheated only i went to Montblanc store for a refill. Today it happens to be a website,
    Those memories just came rushing back. Once a fool always a fool holds.

  4. Hey Rohit. Thanks a ton for writing about this.

    It just saved me a few thousands of hard earned cash. Before clicking on Paying, I felt something was wrong, so I decided to research on this and came up on your article. This definitely is well run scam. Hope the company is able to take them down asap. Cheers.

    1. Just happened wit me- have tagged you on libkedin
      Thank you for the detailed case study
      I am going ahead with a cyber complain
      Will update

  5. Have been through this myself. Ordered a pen online on the same site. Fortunately on COD condition. Opened the package and discovered a different pen and got suspicious. Then tried calling their number but it was not answering. Had the sense to return the package and send myself ₹22000 /-. Please beware.

    1. Well written piece Rohit. This has saved me lots of money today. This fraud is back , I received a sms just yesterday and after checking the offer and calling the toll free number I felt something was not in place and hence googled to check for any Mont Blanc related frauds and found your update.

    2. Thanks Rohit interesting read. I too collect Mont Blanc pens so was intrigued by their mail and price. Told I will only do COD. Waiting for their reply. Thanks to your write up will not waste any more time. Sad Mont Blanc is not taking this up seriously

  6. Well researched, Rohit ! Am afraid I fell for the scam after they called offering 9% further discount besides the 50%(if ordered before midnight, which continues to be offered even now on montblancsindia.com) if the order is converted from COD to online payment, which I foolishly did, after they offered an international warranty for 2 years. Later, on not getting the invoice & reciept for the online payment & not having received the product after their assured ‘3 working days’, I filed a cybercrime report & also furnished all the exchange of messages to the cyber crime cops. The matter is under investigation, in the meanwhile, I received the courier tracking #, and as of now, I would not be surprised if i receive a small piece of rock, for which I paid 9000/-.

      1. Hey Rohit,
        The same
        Thing happened with me as well. Got an Sms with a bitly link, redirected to the website https://montblancindia[.]co/ and I placed an order there with COD as chosen mode of payment. Got a whatsapp thereafter from +91 91677 50842 with order confirmation and urging me to make an online payment in order to save additional 9%. This seemed very unusual as no brand ever does this.
        Have bluntly refused to pay online, my COD order still stands, let’s see what and when it gets delivered. So, have we been able to confirm if the portal and practice is legit or not? Please let me know, accordingly I’ll have to accept or decline the order.

  7. My father fell for the scam. He’s a real enthusiast about pens and over 60 years old. So he couldn’t make out. Please help anyone please

  8. Hi Rohit
    I shopped from montblancindia.co today n I was duped of 9620 inr, I realised within minutes I was duped n raised n alarm to my bank n asked them for reversal transaction, the phone number of there support is 7045046243 n he promises the pen shall be delivered. I know its never gonna happen. As I came across your thread so thought of updating you n your readers of there new fraudulent portfolio. I texted back on the same number and gave him properly. I have even alarmed my friends all over social media too. That much least I can do. If you have a way so that I can sue them put some light.

    1. Hi Dr Neha Gupta,
      This is Uday Mhatre, and me too is the same victim of the offer, where I had too already paid online. Now no reply from their end. Me too is going to do a cybercrime complaint. If you interested then loop me with your details on my email id [email protected]. thanks

    2. Please request them with the refund, and they will initiate your refund amount. I got my paid money refunded and credited in my account.

      1. Dear Uday,

        A victim of this fraud.. can u help who did u speak with.. I have been chasing them for months now and they do not revert Insted the audacity they just keep sending me more options to purchase .

  9. What’s amazing or shocking (take your pick) is that I was directed to this site by a Facebook ad. (In other words Facebook is accepting ads from companies doing scams). It all seemed too good to be true, the prices to start with, and an added sweeter: 50% off until midnight. I even called the helpline number; it was answered today (19 April 2020) at half-past eight by a rather helpful person. Not entirely convinced I googled “Is Montblancindia.co a scam” and landed here. Many thanks for this post. Meanwhile, the scamsters are at it again.

  10. We just became a prey to this fraud I suppose… as we dnt except any delivery though they say they would but we know it’s a fraud.

  11. The new website is Montblancindia.co
    Thank god my antenna went up and thought of searching online. Sometimes the 6th sense helps.

  12. looks like they are back with url https://montblancindia(.)co/ offering 50% off before midnight. Almost fell for it looking at the how well the website is done but the prices raised a red flag. googled and found this well researched blog.

  13. Hi Mr. Rohit,
    Thanks for taking those efforts to alert people with such type of scams. I am already one of the victim as I am very passionate about adding one more in my collection of pens. But unfortunately I paid online and already money is deducted from my account. Yet to receive a parcel which they have committed to deliver in working 7-9 days after payment received. I did the payment on 11 th May 2020. Let’s see with this lockdown can’t even do a cybercrime complaint too. Now just have to wait and watch , what’s my only choice

      1. Hi Mr Rohit,
        After having a what’s app conversation with them on provided customer care number, today on 26 th May , I received my entire amount credited back in my account by them.

        1. Hi Uday, could you please let me know whom to connect with for the refund?
          I have sent you an email as well with some details. Please reply back as and when you have a moment.


  14. why only this sites , there are thousands of sites selling fake montblanc or surplus whatever , company stores and dealers also sell such kind of stock , check flipkart :- https://www.flipkart[.]com/search?q=montblanc&otracker=search&otracker1=search&marketplace=FLIPKART&as-show=on&as=off , Snapdeal :- https://www.snapdeal[.]com/search?keyword=montblanc&santizedKeyword=&catId=&categoryId=0&suggested=false&vertical=&noOfResults=20&searchState=&clickSrc=go_header&lastKeyword=&prodCatId=&changeBackToAll=false&foundInAll=false&categoryIdSearched=&cityPageUrl=&categoryUrl=&url=&utmContent=&dealDetail=&sort=rlvncy , and many other indian sites are doing this , actually company promotes themselves such activities , check my research on store reviews of montblanc only 1.5 star rating all over , that shows how fake and down grade quality they deliver at such higher prices , god save us from such companies

  15. They have shifted to montblancindia.co now. Morphing fraud a bit like corona mutation. If a deal is too good to be true l, it is

  16. yes dotto here with montblancindia.co. ordered on COD condition on 16th April till date not delivered and no response from the fraudsters, there new toll free no. is18001205245. the girl who picks the call after many tries cant even speak properly in English. there whats app no. is 7045046243. Total fraud thank god got saved.

  17. I have been duped by the same guys for Rs. 12000 & a fake pen was sent. When i protested they offered and exchange and im awaiting it. Im sure it will be another fake. I had prepaid on a credit card. Is there any way to punish these guys? The money is already gone

  18. OMG, I just realized this is fake when I asked them to deliver watch, wallet and pen which I ordered and I have only received wallet, which can be found in any road side shop. I have already spend 5digit sum. I was overwhelmed with price and didn’t think of scam and was never cheated online so far.
    Being loyal Montblanc fan, thought chapter is not always bad, may be clearance sales.
    Now the question is how can we catch hold those Samar’s ass.
    Now even montblancindia.co is down and those are still active on WhatsApp number.
    Anyone can help.

  19. Hi Rohit,

    Same case has happened with me. I have paid Rs 9600 for a fountain pen. Have you reached out to Mont Blanc ? What have they said. Can we get refund? We should inform Cyber crime department also.
    The website does not appear anymore.

  20. I ordered from The site goods like pens , belts , wallets , watch wrong items delivered not what was ordered got mails from Richemont teams to replace the items nothing had happened so far constant follow up
    But no result order no 7331 , Can someone please help

  21. Hi Rohit,
    Thanks for this note. This happened to me also. I saw an FB advertisement for 50% off sale in Montblanc products and I clicked the link. I got MB India site. The price there was already 50% below the original price of the international market. When I added the code of FB, again the price dropped to around 17500 INR for a pen which is having 1000USD price in the international market. But still, I didn’t suspect this site. I thought due to this covid19, the companies selling their product with high discount. So it may be a part of that. I did the payment using my card. Fortunately, a message is shown to me that due to COVID 19, we are not receiving online payments and our staff will contact you soon. I waited for a call but nobody called me. Next day I visited the site to check the status of my order but that site was not available. I checked for 1 week but in the same situation. Fortunately, I didn’t lose my money from my card. I contacted the Montblanc international team and they informed that only the TataCliq Luxury is their direct dealer for MB products.

  22. Similar situation ordered 2 wallets COD they called said if you pay by cr card extra 10% discount.. got duped and how. WhatsApp messages non stop one came and other didn’t finally after writing them many stinkers and sending a legal letter they called and said will refund nothing happened finally spoke to cr card Bk they reversed the charges for the moment pending investigation. Let’s see. I decided to take them to task spoke to Montblanc officials sent them details they were going to pursue it just want to tech these fraudsters a lesson. Let’s see

  23. Same thing Happened to me , though I opted for COD and the product never got delivered and now the website seems to be pulled down. What a Scam !!!! The site looked so genuine and had me totally fooled.

  24. Hi, just saw ur post. Wish I had seen it before. I got cheated and lost ₹8,000 and a fake Montblanc was delivered. When I complained I got an email and SMS saying they will take back the pen and send me another in exchange… Looking back I was just taken away by the fact I was getting a Montblanc at 50% discount and I didn’t do any due diligence before sending them the money. I transferred the money to a mumbai based IDFC bank account “Mont Blanc India Pvt Ltd”.. anyway this was a costly learning for me which I shall remember for life. Regards. Mahesh, Chennai

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