From the inbox:
I had written about a scammer who was contacting tons of sellers, requesting they send a whole size retail sample, and that if her company liked it she would purchase a huge order to send as corporate gifts. She created an account http://freshht.etsy.com
A seller who sells fudge brought up the subject of this woman approaching her. Everyone told her not to send anything without contacting the web site first, etc. Then freshht came into the thread, claiming she was legit, why would she have such a lovely website if she was a scammer, etc.
She then proceeded to the promo forum and started writing nasty stuff about the fudge seller.
Etsy deleted her account but were unwilling to write about this woman and a warning about her scam.
People got scammed. http://sewnnatural.etsy.com sent her a gnome doll which costs $28.
I heard on the forums about a site, whois which can tell you the owner’s name of a website. So I found out this person who owns http://freshht.com or http://freshherbsandtea.com is Valerie Hawk Hoffman.
Another etsy seller sent me this, an article about the Conneticut Attorney General who is suing Valerie Hawk-Hoffman: http://www.ct.gov/ag/cwp/view.asp?A=2788&Q=378410
I then wrote to Valerie at her website:
“Please refrain from further asking of any esty seller to send you a free sample (whole sizes such are as sold as retail) for jewelry, soap, fudge, etc.in exchange for the possibility of a very large purchase on your part for company gift packages.
What you are doing is deplorable.
I plan to contact the FBI internet division for fraud, and if you cannot provide them with any invoices, copy of checks or credit card purchases, etc. to any etsy seller whom you have “bought a large purchase” from, it will mean an investigation. I am also alerting the Better Business Bureau of your actions.”
She wrote back:
“This email you sent is VERY unprofessional. That is probably why you didn’t even sign it but I have already located you not to worry. We have been in business for nearly 20 years and have a right to review products before purchasing in quantity, that is standard and normal protocol in the corporate world. As you can see we have a wonderful website with a large product line and are trying to find a gift item for our an event is certainly our right just as its a buyers right not to send a sample if they opt not to!
To send such emails is outrageous and totally unprofessional. A seller has a right to send a sample or not of course but it is certainly not against any regulation to ask for one and as my rep is an attorney if I EVER receive another insulting rude email like this again I will be reporting YOU for harassment and internet abuse and file a lawsuit against you for defamation. How ridiculous to send such an email, you should be embarrassed and ashamed, obviously you are very very new to the business world and should at minimum learn appropriate and professional etiquette! Its sad as you just lost a wonderful order opportunity, continue like this and you will be out of business very quickly, you certainly won’t make it the 20 wonderful years we have I can tell you by speaking to people like that!”
I wrote back (but she blocked me):
“I know all about you and your illegal dealings, Valerie. Your lawsuit, etc. Esy sellers are not just artisans, but also EXTREMELY computer and internet savvy. When we put our collective heads together, we come up with tons of info when someone tries to hurt our community.
I know you have also received free goods from a few etsy sellers, with them believing you will make a large purchase. And I know you won’t.
It is NOT standard to ask an independent artist to send a costly FREE sample. It is STANDARD to pay for a sample. Any well known business such as Martha Stewart, Stylehive, etc. will ask for a product to photograph and then return to its creator (seller).
Yes, I know you have been on Martha stewart, etc.
You are taking advantage of indie artisans and committing fraud, by enticing sellers to send stuff free with promises made of air. The internet division of the FBI will welcome this info as will the BBB.
Leave etsy sellers alone unless you plan to PAY for samples. Most sellers average about $4000 a year on sales. Shame on YOU for taking advantage. We are a community and look after our own.”