Alibaba is full of sellers you want to avoid, but there are signs you can look for to help avoid scammers. Easy signs to look for are sellers that are Verified Gold Suppliers, sellers that use secure payment methods, and sellers that have exceptional communication skills.
In order to become a Verified Gold Supplier, sellers pay for and undergo a lengthy verification process. The process is carried out by a third-party security partner, which includes onsite verification for China-based manufacturers. If a seller is a Verified Gold Supplier, they are most likely a legitimate manufacturer that you can trust with your business (though there are exceptions).
Legit sellers will accept payment through Alibaba's payment platform and will also have the "Trade Assurance" badge on their profile. Payments made through the online platform with sellers that have the Trade Assurance badge are guaranteed through Alibaba, which means Alibaba will help you recoup your costs if the seller tries to scam you.
Does your potential seller answer all of your questions and respond to you in an appropriate time frame? If so, then this is a sign that the seller is legit. Real suppliers are professional and run their business to match, and if you aren't getting the answers you need, this should be a red flag.
Payment to a personal account outside of Alibaba is a huge red flag for a scam. Making payment outside of Alibaba's online platform removes the Trade Assurance protection Alibaba provides, making it easy to get scammed and permanently lose your money. Real suppliers don't have personal names on accounts and will accept payment through Alibaba.
There is no reason that a potential supplier will not allow you to take a factory tour, to conduct a third-party inspection, or to have a video call with you. This lack of transparency means that could be a trade company (an intermediary pretending to be a supplier), or they could be running an outright scam on unwitting businesses.
By the time you make a deposit, the price negotiations for your order should be completely finalized. If your seller suddenly raises the product price after you make a deposit, then you can expect more underhanded tactics through the course of production. Legit sellers don't alter the price after negotiations are complete, and this sudden price hike is a sign that you're getting scammed.