Legal action for fruadulent sellers?

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jordan s
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Legal action for fruadulent sellers?

Post by jordan s » Wed Jan 19, 2011 5:39 pm

Please excuse me if this thread is technically not allowed in this sub-forum. I thought perhaps buyers/sellers could share advice here where they sometimes purchase items. I found this to be appropriate here, if the mod does not, please move it as you see fit.

I was recently scammed by user 12strang10 (Michael Holman of Meriden, CT.) In August I purchased an SSL buss compressor clone off of him from his post here. I paid by money order (I know, this was the first sign.) He promised that the unit was in full working order and the build was very clean and professional. Weeks later when I began questioning where it was, the excuses started rolling in. Just waiting on a few small parts to finish it, just a few wires to solder, blah blah blah. I got more and more frustrated with his antics and after a few months he said he would ship it in a week or refund my money. That was the beginning of November. Then he started making excuses why he couldn't ship it. Eventually he told me that he was just flat broke and had no money (never mind the $600 I sent him months earlier which included shipping.) I began warning users here in his sale threads that he is untrustworthy and no one should be sending him money. That got a fair amount of attention here from users who don't like scammers. He lashed back verbally several times and finally said that the unit was shipped, although it was never finished. According to him, his tech didn't want to deal with the drama so he didn't finish it and I needed to wire only the input and output xlr connections. He also mentioned that he didn't trust the post office and he expected it to be damaged during shipping, which I found fishy. Oh well, I was happy to just have it and be done with this mess....

Fast forward to last night when I opened the package. The outside looks ok, mounted pots/switches on a custom engraved panel. Then I opened it. It is a messy rats nest of wires showing very poor solder work, lots of cold solder joints, solder bridges and pcbs that are dangling from the chassis. This thing isn't even partially wired up. I've never seen such poor workmanship and I can't believe I paid $600 for this. It would have been easier to build it myself from scratch than it would be to undo this horrible mess and redo it all properly. Obviously not what I paid for. I'm embarrassed that I got fooled by this guys scam.
Of course I shot off an angry email demanding a refund. His response, "sounds like it got damaged during shipping. I'll file an insurance claim." That's it, another part of his scam. Now he's committing insurance fraud to try to cover up his mess. I am fully convinced that he bought this kit as a first time builder, wrecked it, decided to pawn it off on someone else (with profit) and then commit shipping insurance fraud.

I do not plan on this poor excuse of a seller voluntarily giving me a refund. I've demanded it several times in the prior months with no success. If you know the appropriate legal action to take or have any advice, please do share. I'm across the country from him but I'm not going to take this lying down. This is just wrong and I'll fight it on principal if nothing else.

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Post by ballpein » Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:29 pm

Should be pretty straightforward to get a small claims judgment against him, given that all the facts are so well documented in emails etc., and he has obviously violated his contractual obligations as a vendor.

You should be able to find all the info you need online, and download a notice of claim and whatever other paperwork you need to fill out and file. You can have anyone you know in the area file it in court for you, or use a service to file it for you, which should only cost about $30 bucks. The good news is that you can recover all your costs when you win the claim, including your costs of attending a hearing in CT.

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Post by Gregg Juke » Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:53 pm

Yeah, you can file a claim in small claims court (and I suggest that you do, just in case). If you win, they can put a lien on his action or garnish his wages until you're paid... UNFORTUNATELY, the sad news is, this is very hard to enforce. It was for me (I won a judgement for $650 back in 1992, I believe it was; still waiting for it). You need all kinds of information on the guy (maybe easier to get nowadays with the Internet, but still getting bank account numbers and passwords will probably not happen) for the Marshalls to get involved, and they won't investigate for you (they've got too much work already). So, you hire a private investigator, right? Well, they cost more per day than your judgement is worth.

If you know somebody in title search, they might be able to help you.

You can file a claim with the US Postal Service (if you went with Post; I don't know how mail fraud laws apply to private contractors like UPS or Fed Ex). They will, in turn, contact the FBI (you could also check with your local branch, maybe?)... Again, usually a long-shot, as they are chasing high-profile criminals and bad guys (my buddy got taken for $600 beans a couple of years ago; same thing, no payment yet, even though the Feds are aware-- $600 seems to be the magic number, huh?)...

I would do all of that anyway, get it in the public record. But, I would also do what we started to do here-- apply pressure via negative advertising/word-of-mouth, and I'd do it EVERYWHERE. Every audio site you can find, every indie music site, ANYWHERE where this guy has been or might go. Also, if this was Craigslist or ebay, I'd report him right away. Also, how did you pay? Do you have a check number, or PayPal info? (please don't say that you sent cash...)

You could also report him to the Better Business Bureau. You could also contact the local press and TV news stations ("Call for Action!" type stuff) where he lives, and let them know that there might be a story in it for them (a predator in their midst).

I would e-mail him back with a list of all of the websites, blogs, and news outlets that you are going to notify (even if you're not right now, make a list and send it to him anyway). He's not going to want to be branded a scammer weasel; it makes it tough to sell anything.

Contact your lawyer if you have one. Try Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts if you don't have one; maybe they'd want to help.

You can count on some help if necessary from the brotherhood...


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Post by digitaldrummer » Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:57 am

agree with the above posts on making claims, filing records, etc. however, you also have to protect yourself. As much as we'd like to think everyone here is honest and legit, it may not always be the case. and sometimes stuff just happens that you cannot control. some things I've learned:

1. get detailed pictures if you are buying or selling. if the item arrives damaged you have "before" pictures. Or if it is stolen, you have pictures of the item to help file a claim.

2. ask questions before buying/selling.

3. if its worth anything at all, ship insured and get tracking. UPS and Fedex offer $100 insurance automatically, above that is extra. I think any insurance through USPS costs extra and their tracking is defintely sub-par.

4. pack it well. if you don't have the ability, then consult a professional (and you will pay more). it will be difficult to file a damage claim if you obviously did not pack it properly. If you recieve something that looks damaged, take pictures before you open it, while you open it, after you open it...

5. use paypal or a method of payment that offers protection. I hate paypal fees as much as anyone, but it is convenient and there have been a couple times where it has protected me from a bad deal. When buying I also use my credit card (through paypal) since it offers another level of fraud protection. However, its a double-edge sword as buyers can invoke a "chargeback" on you--although I think its pretty rare if that goes through. most legit banks require proof of fraud before they allow that to happen.

6. if it seems to good to be true -- it probably is. buyer beware.

I know all of this has probably been said over and over, but it never hurts to have a remiinder.
Last edited by digitaldrummer on Mon Jan 24, 2011 7:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Bassmankr » Sat Jan 22, 2011 1:22 pm

If you paid by US Postal money order, take that info to your nearest US Attorneys office and ask to prosecute. It should fall under Federal wire fraud with mantory sentencing and mandatory 85% time served before release (he will serve jail time). If the con artist took a US Postal money order for payment boy was he stupid, go nail him.

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Post by jordan s » Sat Jan 22, 2011 4:23 pm

Thanks for your helpful comments everyone. Looks like I might have another battle in front of me. Sigh.

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Post by strdsk » Tue Jan 25, 2011 9:27 am

I had the exact same thing happen to me on here years back. I looked into, and threatened, with small claims court. The trixter then claimed that I was responsible for the mess that lurked in the unit I bought and that he shipped it out to me just fine. He even rubbed in that it was gonna' be my word against his in a court of law. He was right...he had me by the short and curleys and knew it. So...I made his life a living hell. Not that I was planning on getting my cash back, but just on principle and for peace of mind. I sent nasty e-mail to him, mailed him nasty letters, called his house at wee hours, black balled him everywhere I could, and even called him at work...all relentlessly. When that still didn't work, I stopped by a gig the band he played in had advertised. I was also touring at the time and made it my business to cross gig paths with him. I brought the bum unit to his show with me, and my band, and you best believe I got my cash back that full...out of band pay. It wasn't fair to the band, but're only as good as the company you keep. He also got his unit back and didn't even bother to dispute in public with me. Was it creepy to take it that far? Maybe. Would that approach work for everyone? No. Do I recommend you go that route? Not necessarily. But the point is, like you mentioned, I refused to take it laying down and made an example of him. For what it's worth, CT is beautiful this time of! Good luck!
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Post by Wlouch » Thu Jan 27, 2011 1:20 am

No advice here, just sorry to hear it, it really is the minority that ruin it for everyone else. Good luck and keep us posted on how it goes.

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found the guy

Post by supafuzz » Fri Jul 06, 2012 6:15 am

Last edited by supafuzz on Fri Jul 20, 2012 3:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Smitty » Fri Jul 06, 2012 10:19 am

Tape Op, P.I.!
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Post by supafuzz » Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:15 pm

Smitty wrote:Tape Op, P.I.!
that made me laugh!! But seriously what were you doing in the short north last night without you girlfriend?? ha ha

But really seriously..I've been ripped off on the internet and feel it when it happens to other hard working engineers!
Super 70 Studio.. Never tell a perfectionist that the mix is perfect!

now in glorious HD3

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Post by TapeOpHillary » Thu Jul 12, 2012 4:19 pm

supafuzz- have you PM'd or emailed him?

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