Vibram Five Fingers, are yours real?

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Can you spot a real pair of shoes from a fake when shopping online?

NBC12 photo-journalist Nathan McCann thought he could — until he got duped. We investigated and found out you need to do your research before you buy online.

Nathan McCann loves to run. His new shoes were supposed to enhance his experience — but a closer look revealed something wasn't quite right.

He knew it the moment the shoes arrived in the mail.

"It looked like some guy in a sweat shop in Asia had tied this thing together and put it in the mail," he told us. "Oh wait a minute, yeah, you see this? That's not on the original."

It didn't take long for Nathan to realize the Vibrams were not the real thing!

"I do feel like I was duped, I do feel like I was scammed. I did get a product, it's usable but it's not the quality I expected and it's not the quality I want, I mean I really enjoy running."

Nathan ordered the shoes from a website called He thought he'd stumbled on a real deal — the shoes were priced at about $70.

Nathan says the site even offered an extra $20 if the buyer became a friend on Facebook.

The price on the real Vibram website starts at $75 and can go up to about $100.

It appeared Nathan got what he paid for.

We wanted to see what had to say about this claim, that it was selling fake shoes. Since we did some digging, the website has removed all pictures of the shoes.

There was an international contact number — we tried to call, and it didn't work. That too has since been removed.

We also sent several emails but never got a reply.

However, we did get a response from the official Vibram company. It says bogus websites selling counterfeit shoes are a huge issue. It has even dedicated an entire section of its website to alert consumers. The company confirmed to NBC12 that is selling fake Vibram Five Fingers.

In a statement, it says:

"We can tell these are fake for a number of reasons: the logo inside of the shoe is incorrect; the text inside of the octagon should be thicker; the fabric on the in-step strap is wrong; the two "reflector" pieces at the end of the strap aren't reflecting, even with the use of a flash; the black upper fabric used is not correct and has a completely different weave than the proper one, it also has a sheen to it that is not on the real pair; the heel pad is incorrect and on our production model actually runs all the way down inside the heel; the beige fabric used is identical both on the upper and in between the toes — in the authentic pairs, two different types of fabric are used; the fabric used where the logo is located on the 'Full Shoe-side View' is incorrect, as is the logo."

Despite being disappointed, Nathan still uses the knock off shoes — after all, he paid for them.

He says, "running in the shoes is okay, they are pretty minimalist shoes so you would have to really mess them up before it affected the experience. I will say, if I thought they were legit, I would be upset by the quality."

Eventually he says he'll purchase the real Five Fingers from either a store or the official website.

For a closer look at the real Five Fingers and the warning signs of a fake, visit the links below.

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