Monday, May 30, 2011

MuseCon Class Registration On-Line!

Class registration for MuseCon is up and running! Point your browser at and you can register for the convention and classes!

Yes, some of the classes have pre-registration: either they have a materials fee, or they are limited in size. Yes, we have the schedule that far along.

AFAIK none of the classes *require* pre-registration, but it's certainly a good idea.

If all the official slots in a class fill up, you don't really want to make the widget, or your budget is tight, you're always welcome to attend and listen.

And finally, if you know you'll be staying at the hotel, please don't wait to make your reservation.

Why yes, I *am* promiscuously cross-posting. I'm in charge of Public Relations for MuseCon, it's my job...

- Posted using software from hardware

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

That Thing I Hinted About A While Back

A couple weeks ago I hinted about something amusing I'd be sharing.  So here it is, me playing with a scam artist (or group).  I've put the conversation in order for reading simplicity, and done a little editorial cleanup.  I'll refer to the scammer(s) in first-person singular by the name presented, for simplicity.  (green background is my e-mail, pink is his)

Michael Swanson to me, Apr 26  
Hello , i'll like to order this items listed from your store to my location in Fiji. However i want you to provide me a total quote to this items including the shipping fees to the location provided.So i can effect payment and get them shipped to my address in the 
Address: Winina Arcade,
Main Street (Opp. New Rups),
Nausori Fiji Island
So i will place you my card info so you charge fees for the items including shipping fees.So get back to me as soon as possible.

Ok, I did salvage this from my Gmail spam folder, but there's a reason I check it daily for false-positives.  It didn't come through our website contact form, the spelling, the lack of actually, y'know, mentioning a particular item, etc. were danger signs, but I thought I'd give it a response.  

But, Fiji?  Wouldn't Australia be closer/cheaper? Ok, I did have an inquiry earlier this year via Etsy from Singapore, but that was about the shipping cost for a specific pouch (ouch, pricey, was the answer)

 Liana Winsauer to swansonmichael7, Apr 26  
You will have to specify which item, what colors, hardware, etc., and how many you would like before I can give you a price quote.
Once I have given you a price, payment can be made via PayPal or Google Checkout, and I will not ship until the funds have actually cleared the process of withdrawl and deposit to my account. I do not accept traveler's, cashier's or third-party checks for international orders.

But I'm not stupid, I know the cashier's/third-party check scam. 

Michael Swanson to me, Apr 28  
Your site wont open from my side please send me a product and price list.

Liana Winsauer to Michael, Apr 28  
Our business is small, we do not have a catalog. I have belts, belt pouches, purses, wallets, checkbooks, and book covers, and some costume accessories. What types of items are you interested in? Please note that we do not offer wholesale pricing.

I am curious how you found my contact information if you cannot access my website?


(Actually, if I had a real customer with a large order, there would be a price break)

Michael Swanson to me, Apr 28  
Please help me with a price list on the listed items below

purses, wallets, belts  

Ok, fine, but I'm not going to spend a lot of time on it...

Liana Winsauer to Michael, Apr 28   
All prices are in U.S. Dollars.

1" wide belts start at $15.00
1.5" wide belts start at $30.00
2.25" wide belts start at $35.00
Purses are typically $50.00-$80.00
Wallets start at $25.00

Also, I would appreciate answer my previous question about how you came by my contact information.

Michael Swanson to me, Apr 29  
Thanks for the response to my mail, However the items needed are listed below in the mail.

1" wide belts start at $15.00..............................40qty
1.5" wide belts start at $30.00...........................25qty
2.25" wide belts start at $35.00.........................15qty

Winina Arcade
Main Street (opp. New Rups)
Fiji Islands

So i want you to provide me the total quote to the items .And for the shipping i will prefer you to contact an agent who handles my shipment, you can to get them via , they have been handling my shipments quite sometime now .All you need to do is provide them adequate information of the items or package and they will be able to quote you based on the information provided.So get back to me with the quote to the items and the shipping quote as well .And if these quote have been confirmed and suitable i will place you my card information so you can charge for the fees.I look forward to read from you soon.

Hey, his English is getting better!  And this is starting to just scream scam: stolen CC number, trying to over-pay me to pay the shipper, shady shipper, take your pick.  I did file a report at that point that should have gone to local law enforcement and/or the FBI, but since I wasn't out any money and didn't have any contact information that struck me as legit, I'm not surprised I never heard back.  But it would have been cool.

Liana Winsauer to Michael,  Apr 29  
What color(s) of each type of belt would you like? I have black, dark brown, reddish-brown, and golden-brown. For hardware for the 1" wide and 1.5" wide belts I have stainless-steel with black accents. For the 2.25" wide belts I have nickel-plated and brass buckles.
Before I can give you a price quote you also need to specify if you want the belts un-trimmed and without holes, or if you would like them trimmed and holes punched, what length(s) you would like to order.

Please note that because this is a large order for my company, I will require pre-payment before beginning production. I do not have quite this many belts on hand.

I am not clear why you want me to contact your shipper to get your quote, as that would be a transaction between you and the shipper. Can you please clarify your understanding of the shipping and payment process for me?

For a shipping quote, I am located in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Until I actually have the belts made, packed, and packaged I cannot supply accurate package dimensions and weight, but as a rough estimate two boxes, each between 25 and 40 pounds, approximately 12" x 12" x 18" in size.

I actually did go to the trouble of measuring a copier paper carton. Then made a SWAG of 1 lb/belt.

Michael Swanson to me, May 1  
Please mix all available sizes, styles and buckle and then provide me a quote. 

Liana Winsauer to Michael, May 1  
A mixed lot of 80 belts, various colors, widths, and hardware,
untrimmed with no holes, will be $2500.00

A mixed lot, trimmed to various lengths and holes punched, will be $3000.00

If you do the math for my "starting with" prices and the numbers he requests above, it comes out to $1875.  And no, I don't normally charge for cutting to length and putting holes in.  Plus my comment above for a large order. I've dropped any thoughts I may have had that he is a legitimate customer and am having fun! 

Michael Swanson to me, May 1  
A mixed lot, trimmed to various lengths and holes punched is preferable, however i am okay with the quote for the order, however i want you to make contact with the shipper i referred you to in previous mail regarding the shipment and their email is ( Once i get the shipping quote and i find it suitable, then i will proceed with the payment providing you my Master card information so that you can process the order fee including the shipping fee. So please get back to me as soon as possible regarding this mail.

Apparently I was doing a good job acting stoopid.  So time for another shipping question.  I didn't want to scare him off, though; nor did I want to actually tell him where I'm at (although IIRC our PO Box address is in plain text on our website.  Which he *claims* he can't get to.  The end result of my pondering had me cackling like a demented thing.

Liana Winsauer to Michael, May 1  
As I said previously, I cannot provide exact weights and carton dimensions until the order is completed. I have, however, provided an estimate to you, as well as my general location. This will allow you to get an estimate from your shipping company directly, all you have to do is copy and paste. When ready I can drop the packages off at a Chicago-area terminal, or arrange for pickup at my facility in the industrial district of Long Grove, Illinois.

I do not understand why you want me involved in paying your shipper, please explain why this complexity is necessary.

"my facility in the industrial district of Long Grove"  I like to just hold that gem up to the light and admire it... 

Oh, yeah, for those not from 'round here, Long Grove is a very tony little 'burb, with high-cost housing and a quaint downtown shopping bit.  No industrial district there!  

Michael Swanson to me, May 4  
Please let me know when the order is complete.

Liana Winsauer to Michael, May 4  
As I explained previously, I require pre-payment before beginning to make the belts, nor will I ship the order until all moneys have completely cleared the payment process. Please let me know which you prefer: PayPal or Google Checkout, so that I can send you an invoice from the correct account.

Not that I was going to give him a live account.  But I wanted to keep my little fishie on the line and play with him some more.

And his English has been pretty decent for a while now, nu?  Wonder if the bad stuff at first was a front to try to convince me he was a non-native speaker from Fiji, or just somebody else at the keyboard?  

Michael Swanson to me, May 4  
I will send you my master card information to process the fees on you POS merchant terminal.

Oh hell no.  I don't want some poor sod's stolen CC number.  Hmm.  Wonder if he's still going to try to over-pay me so that I can pay the shipping fees.  Which I'm pretty sure would violate my merchant service agreement, if I had one.

OTOH, even though I've omitted time-stamps, the May 4 e-mails were forming an almost real-time conversation.  In the morning.  And did I mention Fiji (yeah, right) is 7 hours ahead of IL? 

Liana Winsauer to Michael, May 4  
That is not an option. DO NOT SEND YOUR CREDIT CARD INFORMATION TO ME. I do not care to be part of a transaction with significant risk of identity theft.

As you prefer not to use on-line payment services I will open a new account at my bank and provide you the information necessary to do a wire transfer. If this is acceptable, I can open the account during the midday, approximately three hours from now, or this evening.

Please note that I will not accept over-payment for shipping fees.


Sadly, I apparently showed that I wasn't stupid, and scared him off.  Sigh.

So, should I send him one more e-mail asking if he still wants to place the order?    

Please note before commenting:
All comments go into a moderation queue to prevent comment-spam. I try to get to them promptly, but if I'm busy it may take a couple days.

Update, 25 August 2011:

Wow, 9 responses here and IIRC I had another one on my personal blog (where I'd posted a link to this post) in the last 3 months.

Just to help along anyone else who is approached by this scammer, a couple commenters have mentioned that the name Michael Wilton is also being used, and at least one used a different address (LOT 1 KINGS CROSS ROAD, MINISTRY LANE, MANOCA, NAUSORI TOWN).  

I haven't responded to individual comments, but I'm glad I've been of some help to people. 

13 September 2011:

Now reported to be using the name Gabriel Wilton, and an address of: Celtic Touch, Shop 3, Honson Arc, Suva,Fiji Islands.  Not the sharpest knife in the drawer, eh?

13 December 2011

New variants!

Gabby Levuka
Lot 1, Kings Cross Road, Ministry Lane, Manoca, Nausori Town
박윤환 " Y H Park
Linda Kappler, who claimed to be from "Wayne Impact Store" out of Oakland, MD, still sending to Fiji
Elizabeth Locke, Oakland, MD, to Fiji via UPS or DHL
Linda Wayne Kappler, whose IP address was traced to Nigeria

back to Gabriel Wilton, this time in Ukraine Islands 

16 April 2012 - up to 54 comments

More variants:
Shane Sherley, and Shane Sherley Gabby

Elizabeth Locke, still in Oakland MD, but now for Locke-Rite or Hemrald Group, shipping to Australia
Shane's Place

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

No, not quite dead yet!

Not much leatherworking getting done lately, although I did ship a couple pouches out last week.  Finished my final project for the class I'm taking this term, which is a promotional folder for Otter Necessities Design Services.  Linky goodness showing you what it looks like over on my personal blog:

I will probably have some more news soon, most likely of a more amusing (and less productive) nature.  

Why yes, that is a teaser!