PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Any bride can tell you planning a wedding on a budget can be tough, especially when it comes to finding the perfect dress. Unfortunately scammers know that all too well. 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan tells us about some of the latest rip-offs which are duping brides on their way to the altar.

The designer dress that Maria Ray wanted was just too pricey at $1200, so when she found it online for under $400 dollars, she ordered it immediately. Maria says, “I loved that dress; I could not get that dress out of my head.”

But what was delivered was a mishmash of unglued lace, a floppy corset top without boning, and a rusty pin which stuck in the dress that poked her! Maria says, “I e-mailed them back and said ‘are you crazy? Do you think I will wear this dress on my wedding day?'”Though the company’s website boasted a 7 day money back return policy, she sent the dress back and never got her money.

Maria is not alone. Hundreds of women across the country have fallen victim to similar scams. When brides tell bridal shop owner Frank Hambicki that they can find the dress they want cheaper online, he shows them examples of what they might end up with. He says, “They’re thinking maybe the boutiques, the bridal stores, are charging too much for it.”

Cheap replicas aren’t the only scam. Natasha Dennisuk thought $1,850 was a bargain to pay for a dress that retailed for $6,400. The seller said she lost her fiancé in a car accident. So Natasha wired her the money, but dress never arrived. Now she warns other brides, hoping to keep them from paying such a high price in the process of trying to save. Natasha says, “It’s that one thing we’ve always thought about and it’s the most important thing for our wedding day.”

Many counterfeit dresses come from China. So how can you avoid being ripped off? Always pay with a credit, not a debit card and never wire money! When searching for a dress online be sure to check consumer reviews and plug in the company’s address into street view option of Google maps to see what the place looks like. Is it a post office box? a parking lot? an abandoned warehouse? those are obvious red flags.

Reported by Jim Donovan, CBS 3

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