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Buyer Beware: Prom dress scams

The dress on the left is a dress advertised on an overseas website. The dress on the right is what received after ordering it. (KFOX14)

Prom season can be expensive, but looking for an online bargain could leave you without a dress.

The hunt is on for the best gown, to take the best picture at proms all across the city.

But some bargains are purposely targeting those looking for a dream dress

“I wanted something that could stand out. Everyone is looking for the perfect dress,” said Desyree Gandara, an Andress High School senior.

Between Pinterest and Instagram, the pressure to find the perfect prom dress, has never been higher.

“A lot of girls want to look unique and different from everyone else, so I think it’s a really big deal,” said Gandara.

The photo will live online forever, after all.

Gandara says a lot of girls are turning to the internet in hopes no one else will have the same dress.

“If I buy it online there’s less of a chance of me grabbing the same dress as everyone else,” said Gandara.

But some online sellers, especially with overseas companies, know this.

“People do take pictures from Pinterest,” said Marybeth Stevens with the Better Business Bureau. “It could be a counterfeit of a designer.”

Lorena Gonzalez knows this firsthand after she bought a gown for her medical school graduation.

She found the dress on Promlily for a steal. It shows the dress marked down 73 percent -- from $590 to $161.

“I had found the dress I wanted. I think the excitement might have kept me from seeing that I may not be getting what I hoped for,” said Gonzalez.

When communicating with the dressmaker, they told her the dress was under "tailoring," which experts say is a red flag.

“It wasn’t even the same color and it looked like it wasn’t made right, compared to how the original dress looked,” said Gonzalez.

In the communications with the website, they said the dress would be shipping from China. The dress took much longer than the 15-20 days, the website said it would take.

“I thought that was weird. When we messaged them, they told us the dress was still being tailored,” said Gonzalez.

After trading e-mails back and forth, the dress finally arrived, but it was not what Gonzalez was picturing.

“It’s like Russian roulette when buying online because you don’t really know what you’re going to get,” said Gonzalez.

KFOX14Investigates did a simple Google image search of the dress and found the same image on dozens of other websites for a variety of prices ranging from $179 to $359.

“The price of the dress was like $500 to $600. And on the website it was about $200. So it was a lot cheaper,” said Gonzalez.

A big price cut can be a major red flag and here are some things to keep in mind.

“Be wary of foreign sites, it’s not that they’re all bad but there are some risks,” said Stevens.

Look to see if the website has a physical address and if it's overseas it could cost you an arm and a leg to return the dress.

Make sure you read the terms and conditions and return policy and always use a credit card.

“Use the internet to do the research, take that extra step to research them because it’s such a special day and you don't want to be the day before without a dress,” said Steven.

Gandara spent $350 for a designer dress on a different website but the dress arrived with a broken zipper and was too big in the shoulders

It required her to get the dress altered, twice.

“I felt disappointed because you spend so much money on a dress,” said Gandara.

If you order online, give yourself time to have alterations done, or find another dress.

“I want people to know that there are pages out there that may take advantage of young girls who are trying to find their dream dress but may end up disappointed and scammed,” said Gonzalez.

KFOX14Investigates reached out to Promlily but did not get a response.

Other dress designers warn, features like getting to choose any color you want, custom tailoring to your size and 10-25 days for 'tailoring' are all warnings signs of a fake dress site.

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