Fraudulent Project Stole My Work!
A Bit of a different type of blog post this one folks....Earlier this week I received an intriguing email via the enquiry form of the RING jewellers website. It was from someone who used only their first name (if indeed it was even their first name). They seemed to have spotted something that wasn't quite right. This anonymous hero wanted to tip me off about something. "I was curious, do you have a Kickstarter campaign running at the moment?" they asked. The tone (if you can have a tone of text) seemed to suggest that they knew I did not. I started to compose an email to ask more information but no sooner as I had completed it when another message came through. "By the way that is not my real email address". The email address they left on the form began with 'curious@'. Now I was really intrigued. Then I saw it! At the bottom of the message was a link to a Kickstarter campaign. I'm always dubious about clicking on links from accounts I do not know (I never did win that Nigerian lottery) but this looked genuine. I clicked & this is what appeared:
Now Kickstarter is a crowd sourcing website that helps people raise money to make their dreams come true (think Dragon's Den but you don't have to sell your soul & 40% of your life). What the link showed was a project by a 'Mr. Bayarri' trying to raise funds so his poor father could achieve his dream of opening a jewellery shop. It showed him painstakingly working away at his bench via a video & then the finished jewellery. Only it wasn't his finished jewellery, it was my jewellery! I was shocked to say the least. These were not just similar designs they were actual photos from my website & that was the upsetting thing. At RING jewellers we design & make most rings in house but we do buy some jewellery in from suppliers. The fact that these were my actual photos though, along with some designs that were unique to us (including one that had a personal customer's engraving on) was what made it outright plagiarism.
Note how Mr. Byarri requested 500 Euros & was pledged nearly 5000! In Kickstarter if you reach your target within the alotted time frame you can offer what are called stretch goals & that is an option to raise your target further in an attempt to source even more funds. Mr. Bayarri then left a message saying he was going to up the target to 15,000 Euros! I guess I should take the fact that donations came flooding in as a compliment to my work!
So here's what happened next.....I turned detective & found 'Mr Bayarri' on Twitter & Facebook & sent him a few messages explaining that I know what he is up to (maybe not quite that politely ;) What I really wanted to do was to comment on the Kickstarter campaign. The massive irony though, was that I could only do this by donating to the fraudulent project. Through gritted teeth I donated the minimum 1 Euro & proceeded to comment. I left a couple of messages explaining that the rings were actually from www.ringjewellery.co.uk & that all the people who are interested in buying one should go there as this project is fake. Here's Mr Bayarri by the way. I did consider that the fraudster used someone else's photo but the name seems the same on all social media so I guess not:
Soon after I spread the word about this & reported the campaign to Kickstarter the project was mysteriously shut down. The real proof that cheats never prosper is that I have been inundated with thank you emails from the people who I saved from losing their donations & better still I've had lots of enquiries about bespoke jewellery commissions from the people he tried to con!