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Advice about a repeat scammer? (UPDATE)

Update (6/23/16): I contacted the DA help desk as some suggested, and I'd just first like to point out DA's utter incompetency in handling such situations. It took over a month to receive a reply, and even when I did, it only said that IP addresses can't confirm a person's identity (even though DA does use IP bans?) and that I should "only engage with members whom [I] trust fully". A full month, to write that response? Thanks, DA.

I also tried to send PayPal a message through their message center but I'm not sure it went through, since I haven't received any reply at all and I can't view my message center for some reason. I'll try again when I have time and I'll try to finish up the beware as well!



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Around half a year ago on DA, I commissioned someone who tried to scam me by using fake commission examples. I was eventually refunded after threatening a dispute, but recently I found out that this same person was back, impersonating other talented artists and has already scammed a lot more people. Every time they're found out, they simply deactivate and disappear. I had already started writing a beware, but just a few days ago it turned out that they were continuing to do this on even more accounts. So far they've probably impersonated other artists on at least a dozen different accounts. Is writing a beware even worth it at this point, if they can just switch accounts whenever they're found out? Has anyone else ever dealt with a situation like this, and if so, how did you resolve it?

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Comments

( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
meeka_meerkat
May. 18th, 2016 07:23 pm (UTC)
I feel like making Paypal aware would be a good solution, although I wouldn't know how to go about it.
crystal_minty
May. 19th, 2016 02:58 am (UTC)
Yeah, I'm thinking I'll probably just have to resort to doing that! I still have no idea how to properly approach and explain this situation though, even if I contacted them ;;
honeynuggets
May. 18th, 2016 11:34 pm (UTC)
I would let DA know, since they can probably block their IP. It won't stop them but it might slow them down.

I agree that you could let Paypal know, though I also have no idea how you'd go about doing that. Maybe call them and explain the situation to a customer service rep, they should be able to point you in the right direction.
crystal_minty
May. 19th, 2016 02:47 am (UTC)
I tried to report her but DA just makes it so difficult...Every time I tried finding the page to report someone (which should be in "Help & FAQ", right?) I just keep getting redirected to FAQ pages instead and it seems that I'm just going around in circles.

Could you perhaps link me or direct me to the proper page? ;-;
honeynuggets
May. 19th, 2016 04:38 am (UTC)
Sure! I totally agree, the help section is way too inaccessible. After a bit of hunting I found the link to report someone (this link is specifically for scamming/harassment/abuse/impersonation):
http://help.deviantart.com/contact/?category=6

DA's policy on impersonation/art theft is basically the artist being impersonated needs to contact them, so you could contact the artists that have been impersonated with some screenshots and explain the situation, and they might be willing to fill out the form themselves.

If not, you can try just posing the report as a question, like "I commissioned this person but found out they were using artwork that wasn't theirs as examples. They keep moving accounts and I'm worried this will happen to more people. What can I do?"
I'd try to put emphasis on the account hopping and the possibility they'll continue to scam people; if you focus on the art theft or impersonation aspect, they might not be very helpful.
crystal_minty
May. 19th, 2016 04:47 am (UTC)
Ah thank you so much! For both the link and the advice ;v; <3
galagya
May. 22nd, 2016 01:32 pm (UTC)
I dunno - it may stop those who aren't particularly tech savvy, provided they don't have easy access to other connections(say, someone who lives in a rural area)? Then again, with google, even tech-illiterate people can figure out how to use proxies & the like. :{
honeynuggets
May. 22nd, 2016 02:24 pm (UTC)
I guess I didn't consider that, fair point! It really depends on how much they want to use DA and how easily they can access info on proxies and changing their IP address etc.

If this person was banned from DA and didn't know how to change their IP address, they could just use another site instead -- that was partly what I was referring to as well when I said it 'wouldn't stop them.' Whether it stops them or not, I think it's still a step worth taking!
(Deleted comment)
crystal_minty
May. 19th, 2016 02:51 am (UTC)
The only problem with reporting emails is that they can easily switch to a different one! You know how you can add multiple emails in PP? That's actually what this person did recently to appear more legitimate when they were impersonating an artist >.>
intothewolves
May. 19th, 2016 12:53 am (UTC)
I think an AB is more than worth it. Even if you can't pinpoint all the names they're using or will use, there's probably some similarities in these accounts, you can point out - do they have a similar modus operandi each time they make one of these new accounts? What sorts of artists do they impersonate? Do they come to people and talk to them, post a commission journal, etc? Are their accounts relatively new every time they pull this scam?

I mean, even if you can't post their email address, I think a beware is warranted for this situation. This is an ongoing issue, even if you can't help everyone with a beware because of the nature of said issue, you can at least prevent some people from being scammed.
crystal_minty
May. 19th, 2016 02:57 am (UTC)
The AB would probably end up incredibly long though, since it's such a complicated situation. As much as I want to write a beware, I don't know if I have the time and energy to organize all of that.

Plus, I don't have concrete evidence for all of the 10+ accounts (with most of them being deactivated). I only know because the situations contained far too many "coincidences" involving the same person and email.
intothewolves
May. 22nd, 2016 12:22 am (UTC)
Do you know the usernames/contact info of other people this guy has scammed? Maybe one of them has more info, or would be willing to collaborate with you on writing a beware.

Just a thought. I definitely understand not having the time or energy needed to make one.
crystal_minty
May. 29th, 2016 01:09 am (UTC)
Sorry for the late reply!

I actually did receive help from one person, which is actually how I found out that this person was a repeat scammer in the first place. However, she didn't want to get too involved and wished to stay anonymous (for a similar reason - that it was too stressful). The problem with trying to find other users is that all of the accounts are either deactivated or the commission journals/posts are deleted.

Thanks so much for the advice though! If at all possible I'll definitely try to do that! ;v;
fromeyo
May. 21st, 2016 12:09 pm (UTC)
I'd say making a beware is well worth it, as well as getting into contact with PayPal with all of your evidence. They may be able to take care of it-I doubt that they would be too pleased about a scammer using their services.

If all else fails, get into contact with the other people they're scamming, and force a good amount of disputes all at once. PayPal automatically looks into any account that suddenly has a good number of claims and disputes, I believe.
crystal_minty
May. 29th, 2016 12:54 am (UTC)
Sorry for the late reply!

The only problem with that method is that I only know of a few people who recently commissioned the person (they deactivated/deleted posts too quickly) ;-;
galagya
May. 22nd, 2016 01:39 pm (UTC)
I agree with everyone else on here. Make the beware, for sure.

In particular, I'd like to know how you find this person/know it's the same user. Perhaps it's the same email address, or types of addresses? The particular way they type? Their specialized MO when carrying out their schemes? Or some other, possibly more elaborate, specialized means?

Not gonna lie, I'm downright curious at this point.

If you need help, I would be happy to offer it myself. Just saying. It'd really suck to have someone get away with this simply because you don't have the time to handle it all on your own. My email address is my username(it's the same everywhere, lol) at yahoo, if you choose to accept the offer - just saying!

In any case, this sounds super frustrating. But again, I think it'd definitely be worth it to make steps towards taking their thieving butt down. Imagine how many people you'd help!

I wish you the best of luck, particularly if you decide to move on this. I've got your back, stranger; & from the looks of it, seems like others in the online art community do, too. tc.
crystal_minty
May. 29th, 2016 01:05 am (UTC)
Sorry for the late reply!

I originally confronted the person because their names were the same, but just today I found out that the email was the same as well, and they also had exactly the same art style.

Furthermore, earlier in another reply I mentioned that "the situations contained far too many "coincidences" involving the same person and email". Basically, whenever someone posted a journal calling out one of the accounts, this person's main account would comment under that journal saying things like, "Why would they steal art?" and conveniently, soon afterwards the account would apologize for scamming with some excuse, promise to refund people (but often times won't unless threatened) and then post their "real" art instead. Then the user who commented under that journal would praise their real art ("Their art wasn't as bad as I expected, not much reason to steal art when her own work is pretty decent") - basically praising their own artwork, since it's clearly the same style.

It's definitely a very complicated situation, and sadly right now I'm far too busy to even consider finishing the beware. When I have time to write it later, if I do need help I'll be sure to ask! Thank you so much for the kind offer! <3
(Screened comment)
kayla_la
May. 29th, 2016 06:18 am (UTC)
MOD COMMENT
Please note that advice posts are meant to be anonymous, not proper bewares. I will be screening this comment, please do not repost any identifying information of this person again in this post.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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