Another Chinese Lens Rip-Off

Super Zoom Chinese Telescope (Lens)

We have been down this road before. The last time around, people paid from $60 to $200 for a cheap Chinese lens they could have bought for $12. The lens was touted as a German product and the ads used fake quotes from a fake German engineer. They created fake test results and used fake testimonials. They grabbed professionally created photographs taken with professionally photo equipment and passed them off as iPhone photos created with the fake German lens.

12X Chinese telephoto camera phone lens vs DSLR and zoom lens.

I wrote a whole series of articles in 2018 about the rip-off back then as tens of thousands of people were duped into buying cheap Chinese lenses at hugely inflated prices. I bought two of the lenses (at cheap prices) to test them. The image quality was lousy.

Super Zoom Chinese Telescope/Lens

The new scam is pretty much like the old one. You can’t trust anything in the ad. The internet and Facebook are being flooded with ads for this cheap Chinese telescope/lens. The photos and videos were not taken with the telescope they are selling. But this time they are claiming this super zoom telescope “was invented by Johns Hopkins University and released on July 1”. That is not true. This telescope/lens is manufactured in China by Zhongshan Optake Industrial Co., Ltd. They are located at No. 6 Xinhua Road, 2Nd Building, Sanjiao Town, Zhongshan, Zhongshan, Guangdong, China (528400).


Global Sources in China sells the telescope from Zhongshan Optake Industrial Co., Ltd.

If you want to go into business, you can buy these super zoom telescopes in quantities of 500 or more from Global Sources in China. The cost varies from $10-12, depending on how many you order. If you order a high enough quantity you can get any brand name you want put on the telescope, even your own. Decide on the price you want to charge, open up a website, and sell them. I have no problem with that. I do have a problem with claiming they were “invented by Johns Hopkins University” when they come from China. And I have a problem with falsifying a NASA document to prove the telescope was invented by Johns Hopkins University. And I have a problem with charging outrageous prices. They will probably, like last time, make a small fortune selling these to gullible people.


Screen capture, Tomaob website.

This is a screen capture (above) from the Tomaob website, one of many online “companies” selling this Chinese telescope/lens. Note the claim the telescope was invented by Johns Hopkins University and check out the “Academic report of the telescope” in the ad.

Closeup of the academic report, screen capture from the Tomaob website.

This is a closeup of the academic report from the Tomaob website. If you look closely at the report, the first and last names do not have matching fonts, and the first and last names do not exactly line up. Someone with poor Photoshop skills has changed the first names, and they also changed the first address which is in a bolder font than the second address.


Original NASA paper by Natalie Clark and James Breckinridge.

This is the top of the first page of the original NASA paper, which you can download from NASA’s archives here. This has the original names at the top. This paper is about optics used in NASA space science missions. It was written for the 28th Annual AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites which was in 2014. This paper, despite the ad, has nothing to do with a Chinese telescope being sold in 2020.

So the dishonest people who put together the ad changed Natalie Clark’s first name to Iris and her address from NASA Langley Research Center to Johns Hopkins University Institute of Optics to promote the lie that the telescope was invented by Johns Hopkins University. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Original NASA paper names and the altered names and address for the ad.

In this comparison between the original and altered names you can see the poor quality Photoshop work.


Screen capture, some of the photos in the ad at the Tomaob website.

It is typical in these scams to grab professionally created photos and videos on the internet and pass them off as photos and videos created with the product they are selling. That is just as true for this scam. This screen capture from the ad at the Tomaob site is typical. They are clever. They give you the impression these photos were created with the zoom telescope, but they never come right out and actually say it. I went looking for these images on the internet.

Campers under the Milky Way by Anatoliy Gleb

This beautiful image of campers under the Milky Way was created by Anatoliy Gleb. I could tell immediately it was created with a very wide angle lens, not a telephoto lens and certainly not with the lens in the ad at Tomaob. It takes a super wide angle lens to capture the whole Milky Way across the sky.  This image is sold as a stock image by iStock and you can see it here. I wrote to Anatoliy, who lives in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, and asked him what he used to create this image. He wrote back and told me he used a Nikon D-700 and a Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens.

Friends on a Road Trip.

This photo of friends on a road trip is another stock image. It is at Dreamstime and was created by Monkey Business Images. You can see it here.

This photo of the hiker illustrates an article on hiking in Japan. You can see the article here.

The topic of this article is “Is Honey Acidic of Alkaline?”  Other than that I can’t tell you much about the article with this image of a bee because I don’t speak or read the Chinese language. You can see the article here.

Composite image for the zoom telescope/lens at the Tomaob website.

This composite of four images at the Tomaob website was taken from an advertisement for different product which you can see below.

Ad for the TravelTrace mobile telescope.

In this screen capture from the ModernMint website, look at the small composite image. You see the same composite in this ad that Tomaob used in the ad for their product.

You get the point.  The photos in these ads have nothing to do with the kind of images this telescope/lens can actually create. There is a reason for that. If they could produce quality images with the product they are selling, they would use those images in the ad instead of grabbing images off the internet that were created with professional quality photo gear.

Zoom telescope at the Totrye website.

I found the same zoom telescope that is in the Tomaob ad at 15 other websites. Many of these sites use the same images in their ads. The prices were all over the place, usually in the $30 – $90 range. I found it for $29.99 at the Totrye website. Tomaob wants $129.56 but that is without the smart phone adapter.

I suggest you do not buy from any of these fly-by-night websites. Past history indicates that at many of these sites you can be overcharged well over the advertised price and hit with huge shipping and handling charges.

And it gets worse. Thanks to recent changes in federal consumer protection laws, you may not have a legal claim to get your money back. Since you are dealing with a company that is not based in the U.S., you increase the odds you won’t get your money back if you aren’t happy with your purchase. And thanks to the new vagaries of U.S. law, your credit card company may not be legally obligated to return your money. The moral of the story is to purchase lenses only from highly reputable dealers. And most of them, for obvious reasons, don’t carry these cheap, poorly made, poor quality Chinese items.

Besides, you don’t seriously believe a telescope/lens that sells for as little as $30 can give you good optical quality at 300X, do you? If you do, I hear there is a bridge for sale in Brooklyn.