Fraud alert Fair warning to Audiogoners.

I recently came across a scam on Ebay. Persons of Arabic descent using Anglo or Jewish surnames are fraudulently auctioning cameras, and now seem to have found their way to audio sites. I noticed a suspicious ad here not long ago, but it has disappeared. There was no email address for it. The seller was in Spain, which is where one of my suspect's is located. Now I noticed similar ads popping up on other audio sites. I found two ads today on another audio site. The ads all have the following properties:

The items advertised are very desirable

The items are priced below market value

The feedback, if any, is recent and contrived

The payment method always assures no recourse for the buyer (Postal Money Order, Western Union)

Spain and New York City area seemed to be where these scams are coming from. Once I discovered the people in New York, the ads started to come from Spain.

The ads are very well done and includes pictures

Many of the ads have cryptic messages built into them

Yes, I am in law enforcement, but the jusidiction here is with the FBI and possibly the Postal Inspectors, depending on how payment is made. They are aware of it. If you see any of these ads, please let me know where the ads are listed. I'm keeping a file of other possible ads with the case I turned over to the FBI. If you are a victim of this, please let me know.
is there any other earmarks to identify these fraud listings? properties mentioned cover a large percentage of the active sellers posting items or auctions. kurt
Further info: They are copying ads from real sellers on Audiogon, and posting fraudulent ads on Audioweb. These ads are copied verbatim including pictures. I have emailed most of the persons affected, but recent postings have occurred since then.
I saw an in audioweb for a Bryston 7Bst amps and the seller was in Spain. After looking at the photo closely, the amps were plugged into 120V outlets. Spain uses 230V.
I was wondering when these people would start with audio. I used to check plasma tv prices on U-Bid. There used to be tons of sellers of similar description selling 10K plasmas for 3-5K. Same payment options. Alot from Spain but even more from Romania and other Czech areas. I heard all of these scams were traced back to Czech's but I can't say that is a fact. It was fustrating to see all these people had bid on them and there was no way to alert them that it had to be a scam. I haven't seen them on U-Bid recently but I don't go there much anymore. I did bid 50-100K on several of those auctions just to disrupt them...I hate seeing people getting ripped off.
On behalf of all at Audiogon, thank you Glreno, for your valuable information. We all benefit knowing that there are such scams taking place.

They show their obvious deceit and intent.

Kind regards,
Brian Weitzel
Thanks Glreno for the update. Buyers please carefully check sellers feedback. Best way is to see if ther members who left feedback for the seller has at least some feedback from elsewhere so not to create false feedback for each other.

Please examine feedbacks thoroughly before sending your hard earned $$$
Can you point to specific ads on Ebay? How do you know they are people of Arabic descent if they use Jewish or Anglo surnames? For that matter, how do you know what surnames they use, since Ebay doesn't release this information?

I am concerned that the vague information provided will only serve to cause unnecessary fears and suspicions, especially against people of "Arabic descent".

Except for the allegation about the suspicious feedback, all the other "suspicious" features are not suspicious at all:

The items advertised are very desirable

The items are priced below market value

The feedback, if any, is recent and contrived

The payment method always assures no recourse for the buyer (Postal Money Order, Western Union)

Spain and New York City area seemed to be where these scams are coming from. Once I discovered the people in New York, the ads started to come from Spain.

The ads are very well done and includes pictures

Many of the ads have cryptic messages built into them

I certainly appreciate being alerted to a scam. But you give little information necessary to detect a specific scam and much fuel for unnecessary hysteria.
I became very suspicious of a "For Sale" ad that was placed just after I placed a "Wanted to buy Ad" for a Berning ZH270.

I communicated with this person with several emails. Something didn't seem right. Glreno, I was in law enforcement for a number of years also and my gut told me, leave this one alone.

Well, sure enough, after reading your post, the MO seems extremely similar. Can't say for sure without an investigation, but this one smells.
The guy is now at selling a Mark Levinson 336 for $2800. I think I'll buy a dozen at this price. The Bryston 7B-St amp that I saw on Audioweb yesterday that was plugged into a 120V is now a brand new sealed in box.
There are tons of fraudulant a-wipes on here, there and everywhere.. as usual its buyer-beware..

My fear is that although these posts are always a welcomed reminder, lets not get into a witch-hunt and also specifically name an ethnic groups.. (lots of Chinese,American, Canadians..on and on and on take your pick...etc that are also frauds)

there should be a weekly reminder posted on Audiogon for brain-dead shoppers that these people are widespread Its amazing how much cash people are willing to send on the internet or MO to someones house !!..

Number 1 rule...Never buy or sell with a non referencable person.. And always speak to them on the phone and exchange detailed info on home phone numbers etc ..2 very basic rules..

Lets all be careful so we can all have great experiences on audiogon !
Names or user handles used so far by this fraud ring are: mickeykaiser, davidknight, johnbrighton, afrank, dave2k, robertshef, johnbroughton, angelo_calic, andrewsmith. Also the email (cryptic message?). Most of these aliases use Yahoo email addresses, but I did find an Earthlink email address for one of the aliases. I have talked with Arnie at Audiogon. They became aware of these guys when I first noticed them on this site. They have instituted safeguards to make sure these guys don't sign on here. There are still ads and aliases on Audioweb. I have found their management to be less responsive.

It doesn't take a genius to find an ad on Audiogon that has been duplicated on Audioweb and know what's going here. But for your sake, an example: Find the Audioweb ad titled "Martin Logan Ascent like new - hybrid speaker" being sold by davidknight. Now look at the feedback. Looks like they have already been successful in ripping someone off. I have been in contact with that person, and it's confirmed. Now look at the positive feedback for any of the names under any of the copied ads on Audioweb. All the feedback is left by the aliases used by this group. Go to the personal information left under the aliases. Try calling the telephone numbers for the aliases. Do they work? Nope! Are they similar? Yep! Try finding the addresses for the aliases. Do those streets exist? Nope! Compare the email addresses to the user names. Why is davidknight's email address Why is his user name davidknight, and yet his informational name listed as Robert Knight? Now go to Audiogon and find the ad under #1025728542 being sold by Digitalcanuck. Isn't this the same ad, word for word, that you just read on Audioweb? Are the pictures the same? Now look at davidknight's other ads. See if you can find them on Audiogon.

Why has mickeykaiser and many of the the other aliases listed above now posted negative feedback on my user name, and even posted an ad on Audioweb copying my own, making me out to be the fraud suspect? Could they be connected to "afrank"? Why does "afrank" have two positive feedbacks left by two of the aliases on the same day his ads were posted? Look at the feedback on all the aliases. They are giving positive feedback to each other. Have you checked my feedback on Audiogon? Does it match what I now have on Audioweb, thanks to these guys? Incidently, that was one of the dummer things they did, because it exposed more of their aliases to me. Why would they care if I left poor feedback for "afrank" if they weren't tied to him in some way? How did they become aware of it so quickly? I also said Postal Money Orders, not money orders. Why don't you check the information already given before you doubt my veracity line by line in a public forum. We have a term called Community Policing in Law Enforcement these days. Basically, it means get the community motivated and have them take some responsibility for being aware, being informed, and being involved. Not everything can be done for you. There just aren't enough cops out there to do it. You could have discovered all this for yourself had you taken the time to do it.

I have been in Law Enforcement for 26 years. When you read the above information line-by-line, I'm sure you could rationalize each one of those events. But the totality of the events causes one to draw a more accurate conclusion than any single event. And there is so much more that I haven't mentioned, and won't. So much for your lesson today in criminal investigation.

I have an active case that has been turned over to the FBI. I have been following these guys for 6 months, ever since I found them on Ebay selling cameras under the name andrewsmith. I followed them to Ubid. I found them there selling Plasma TVs under the name angelo_calic. Looks like Rockhead did too. I haven't the room here or the time to outline the entire case I have, nor do I think I need to. That certainly would only be helpful to the suspects if I did. I have emailed a more detailed explanation to the affected members whose ads have been copied, and even talked to them on the telephone. But for the purpose of this thread, I think I have provided enough information about the way they do business to hopefully prevent others from getting taken advantage of. I am gathering information for my file on these guys as I see them move around the internet. My goal, since this case is beyond my jurisdiction, is to keep them from obtaining any more funds illegally, and provide any other information to the investigating agent. If you've ever worked with the Feds, they work very slowly. Internet fraud is not a major priority, no matter where it leads. If I sound a bit hard core here, I apologize. But I am passionate about my work. I hate criminals, and I hate seeing people victimized. I will do what I can to prevent it, and to catch those responsible.

Criminals love nay-sayers and doubters. It keeps them in business. My words to want to deal with these guys, go ahead. I've done my part. Please let me know when you don't receive the item, so that I can add your transaction to my file. By the way, what hysteria are you talking about?
You have now satisfied 95% of my concerns about the vagueness of the allegations. You have to admit, a DA would have laughed at your report of facts in your first posting on this thread. I would admit that a DA would take the facts in your last post very seriously.

I am still concerned that there is an anti-arab hysteria brewing since 9-11. Your first post identifies the culprits as being of Arabic descent. Maybe you have information about their identities which confirms that. But so what? How does that information help the ebay/audiogon/audiomart shopper to detect and avoid the scam? I don't suggest that because they may be arabs that we should look the other way. Crooks should be identified and prosecuted. But would you have pointed out that they were of British or German origin if that were the case? And if all I know is that their screen name is, what difference does it make to me if they are Arab, German, African, British, etc?
Speaking of copying ads, I would encourage sellers to mark auction/classified pictures with their name in a way to prevent picture thieves from cropping out the identifying marker.

I have sold items on ebay only to find my pictures resurfacing in later auctions. Often it's just people who don't have cameras, but the practice is misleading and can be wrongly used. Photo thieves also make your own posting look like a scam.
First of all, the information given was not meant for prosection, only as a warning to consumers. It is not necessary for you to receive a case ready for prosecution to take precautions in purchases made on the internet. If you choose to ignore that information, that's your business. More information was available to you, just as it was for me, simply by exploring the websites with your eyes open. That was the purpose of this posting.

I understand your concern about labeling. I considered carefully what I wrote in that posting. It is certainly not my intention to be inflammatory or cast a shadow on any particular race or ethnic group of people. Nor do I think I have done that. Facts are facts, and I have them to support what I have said. My intentions were to only provide as many indicators or clues to the identification of these false ads as possible. I based the indicators mentioned in the original and follow-up postings on what I use to identify these false ads. Some of the email addresses I have found use Arabic surnames. Some of them are indicative of a certain political philosophy. When you see this in email addresses of sellers, it is just one more caution to be aware of. As I said, look at the totality of events. Fraud cases in particular are like small snowballs rolling downhill. As they pick-up speed, they grow in size. With fraud cases, one clue leads to many others, until a pattern is apparent and obvious. The information I gave was the results of that first small snowball I "discovered" that has now grown to an enormous size. I can't begin to tell you how complex and far reaching this case has become. And consider that I probably only know bits and pieces of it.

Would I have pointed it out if they were British or German? Absolutely! I don't care what race or ethnicity they are, I just want them caught. As far as "satisfying you", after being involved in many newsworthy events over the course of my career, and having been interviewed and quoted (and misquoted) by various forms of media, I have learned one thing: You can't please everybody.

As far as the "hysteria", in our city there were some minor, isolated incidents, and nationwide there were a handful of newsworthy events related to September 11th. But those occurred within two months after that tragic event. Maybe it's different in your community. If so, that's unfortunate, and it makes it easier to understand your concerns. Feel free to email me at my personal email address of This discussion has veered to far away from the intent of this original posting.
More to the purpose of this thread, if anyone has become a victim already, and don't wish to send the information to me, at least notify the FBI at If you would also cross reference your complaint to the original complaint # I02030713598991, I would appreciate it. This group may also be currently attempting to establish accounts with Paypal. They do have access to numerous stolen credit cards. I will post more information if possible as I come across it.
They have found their way to Audioshopper. Check out Same email as "afrank" on Audioweb ( He moved to Audioshopper because his membership was revoked from Audioweb.
Way to go, Glreno.

I knew you were a stand-up guy when we did business together.

It's a shame that you felt compelled to justify your statements to whatshisname in this thread.

I wouldn't have wasted the time or bandwidth.

Best regards, March
Glreno-Thanks for the info. The best way to beat the scammers is to share information.

Gboren- Thanks for asking the same questions I would have asked and I think you made some very valid points.

Thanks for the info. Went to an anonymous emailer and sent Kbambus a nasty email.
Glreno, Thank you so much for the warning. I will definitely email you with any suspicious ads that I notice. I have been too complacent because most people on this site are very honest. I was almost burnt here recently from an auction. I asked for cod and that is what saved me. But another guy sent him money and he lost over 250.00 in another transaction. I'll email the guys name to you later.
I do wonder if this is Al Queda's way of continuing to finance a war against US. Anyway THANKS AGAIN.
I think we're all grateful to Glreno for putting us wise to this apparent fraud. At the same time, I think we should give ear to the questions raised by Gary Boren. In times of national crisis, or even ongoing national stress, the temptation toward racial/ethnic stereotyping is strong. I encourage everyone to be cautious and deliberate in their use of potentially misleading or defaming language. I'm not for one second suggesting that Glreno is racist or intended to condemn Arabic people in general. OTOH, a friend of mine was buying vegetables in mid-September when a redneck walked up, spun him around, punched his face, and said, "Take that home to Osama, you raghead son of a bitch." My friend, as it turns out, is from Trinidad...

Just a caution, please accept it in the spirit in which it is written.

These guys are now using Lycos email addresses as well. They are now asking for half now (by Western Union or money order), and half later. Shipping charges will sometimes be ridiculously low. Example - a 43 inch Toshiba rear projection TV shipped from Spain to Colorado for $200. Audioweb has removed all of the names listed above, but others are now appearing. They are still many aliases being used at Ubid for Plasma TVs under the Consumer Exchange forum.
People need to get over themselves; as in, being watchdogs for political correctness, culturally-based or not. It is a fact, that no amount of cultural relativism can cure, that different cultures possess different general modes of discourse, including economic discourse. Those cultures that are more tribal in their level of civilization tend towards seeing other cultures as "the other", i.e. xenophobic, and categorize their negative treatment of them as more accepteable because they are not part of their group. Groups of minds do this and it is a fact. This does not mean that an individual can not transcend his group's norms of discourse - western norms or arabic norms, or any others - but respecting individuals does not necessarily negate a general observation on the norms of a given culture.

There was nothing in gleno's post that should lead anyone to believe that his motivation was to denigrate a particular culture. Those that feel the need to warn others' in such circumstances should ask themselves whether their warning has more to do with their idea of themselves -being always the one who is culturally sentitive - than the merits of any actual warning.
You seem to know an awful lot about abstract theory of social systems. But to bring it down to earth, are you suggesting that Glreno's inadvertent mention of the ethnicity of his suspects was a "general observation on the norms of a given culture" (ie, Arabs' dishonesty)?

I neither assumed nor implied that his inadvertent reference to the culprits' ethnicity was even intentional. But people do make innocent slips and these are often indicative of subtle but harmful stereotypes held by otherwise well meaning people. In this case, Glreno's allusion to ethnicity added absolutely nothing vis a vis the information necessary to help the reader spot a scam. It would have been just as meaningful if he had replaced "persons of Arabic descent" with "persons with red hair" - but that would have sounded quite out of place.

You can call it "political correctness" if you want. My experience is that that is a term bandied about by people who are unable or unwilling to consider change - another group of people who "need to get over themselves".

I vehemently disagree.

Their ethnicity has a great deal to do with "information necessary to help the reader spot a scam."

Should one pursue a purchase through Audiogon (or any other board) the possibly may arise for the buyer to talk with the seller by phone. And if the buyer has been apprised of a scam that is being run by a particular group of people, if the buyer recognizes an accent, this one piece of information alone may be the difference between being taken for thousands of dollars or walking away.

Certainly an accent is not an indictment of the seller, but it is just one more piece of information the buyer processes to help make a decision. And if the seller is unwilling to accept a phone call, then that should certainly raise an eyebrow, as well.

When I was a police officer and later an investigator, I ran across people like you who were always screaming about political correctness. It always seemed funny to me that some people are more concerned about the "feelings" of a group of people than the misfortune of the victim.

Next time you are scammed or you are robbed and beaten, when you call the police, make sure you say nothing about the person's race, color or national origin. It might hurt someone's feelings or reflect poorly on a particular group.

Better yet, don't even call the police. Just call your PC friends and commiserate about how the criminal wasn't to blame, but rather, "it was society's fault because he was labeled or discriminated against."

Audiogon is a great service to all of us and *any*, let me repeat, *any* information, that is available helps make it easier when purchasing equipment from a seller one doesn't know.

I'm not web saavy enough to find the real names behind these "handles" Glreno lists in one of the posts(mickeykaiser, davidknight, johnbrighton, afrank, dave2k, robertshef, johnbroughton, angelo_calic, andrewsmith, But these certainly don't sound very arabic to me, if at all. I should know, check my last name. However, in light of Glreno's law enforcement background he is probably privy to info most of us here aren't. Given that, how does it matter what ethnic group these criminals belong to. It's not like we're meeting these people in person where ethnicity might serve a purpose in identifying etc.

Gboren - well put.
Well now that some of us have taken offense to some of Glreno's alleged " ethnic remarks. " Suppose we get back to the point. Someone is trying to rip us off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And Glreno was attempting to advise us. Frankly I don't give a rip if the guy ( who is trying to rips us off ) is purple and is from mars! I'm just glad that someone tipped me off. What was that someone once said? " To err is human, to forgive divine "

Sometimes the American public is way to sensitive. I heard the other day that someone is try to force school children to say " Good person's day " Instead of " Valentine's day " Sheeeesh! What's the world coming too????

Suppose we get back to audio equipment now?
I think Glreno was just trying to point out that the folks in these scams were disguising themselves as anglo-americans as part of their crime.

Possibly to gain confidence in buyers that they were buying from a good ol' boy.