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I think that you've probably received quite a lot of encouragement that online purchasing is not some horror story. I suppose the really big issue for you is the fact that you aren't able to try before you buy or at least try several that might suit.
There are dealers and professionals who use this site and will advise from their own experience but it would be great if you could return an item (at your own expense) if it didn't suit. Unlike bows, I can't see someone sending you several violins but they might at least allow a return.
You will need to think about whether you want a decent resale on the item. If you do then new violins typically drop like a stone. On the other hand they don't need work so long as you get them from somewhere reputable. If you go by reputation then your $1500 will probably get you a Scott Cao or a Jay Haide second hand. Eastmans have already been mentioned but they do struggle to hold value
I started learning violin about three years ago. I've difinitely improved since having a better instrument as it encourages you to practice more and is possibly easier to play. Buying from retailers online is mostly safe and may get you good value for money.
$1500 should get you a very nice violin that will last you a long time. There are various Chinese and Eastern European new violins that are very good and could be bought for this https://violinio.com/ Martin Swan's e-shop (UK) is a good place to look but there are loads of such shops in the States (and on EBay). Don't forget that you are wasting your money if you don't buy a bow of the same calibre.