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Tips To Help Vendors Avoid Scammers

In the crafting world there are so many scammers that it teeters on the realm of absolute ridiculousness. How does one scam the crafting community? They simply create an event and steal the money from those who want to be vendors. It happens so often and many of them walk away with so much of the community's hard earned cash. 

One would think that a scam would be pretty easy to spot, but, in our area, they get quite creative and spend a little time to look legit. As a rule of thumb, because the scammers look so real, Cutoff Crafts does an intense amount of research on each event before we apply. We even make a call to the facility that may be hosting the event to inquire if the event is on the books. Sometimes there is no facility to call, which makes the research a bit difficult. 

Recently, there was a posted event called the Energetic Street Fair that was supposed to happen along the street of Sherman Ave. in CdA. Get ready for a fun little ride because I took this research a step more than I normally do.

There I was, scanning local events that Cutoff Crafts could attend in order to sell our wonderful items. Suddenly, a friend shoots me a link to, what appeared to be, a fantastic event called The Energetic Street Fair.  It appeared legit with prices, location, times, and contact all listed on the flyer. 

NOTE: Contact information has been removed just in case the account posting the scam was hacked.

If this event had turned out to be real, it would have been amazing. However, the price was concerning for a 3-day event (too cheap), the setup time was off (only an hour setup time), and there just so happens to be another event called the CDA Street Fair taking place at the same time near the same location.  It was time to do my due diligence and research the Energetic Street Fair.

First, I messaged the Downtown CDA Association to see if they had any knowledge of another street fair happening near their event. Thy only knew of the CDA Street Fair happening at that location. Second, I looked for past events with a similar name. There were none. Third, I did a quick check on the person hosting the event. Fourth, when no information could be found, I messaged the host. This is where it gets interesting.  

My first message is clear that I am looking to apply for this Energetic Street Fair. No lie, I was interested. The event would have fit perfectly with the Cutoff Crafts brand.

The scammer must have been eyeing their email, waiting for their victims to trip the trap because the response came fairly quickly with perfect instructions on how to apply. It even included a link to an application.

I find short links suspicious and, before I click one, I always test it for validity and possible viruses. This one led to a google doc form, so I figured I would fill it out. Who knows, this still could be a legit event and simply hosted by a person who was new in the vending world. However, there were a few discrepancies between the flyer and the form that started to verify my thoughts that this was a scam.

Looking at one question in the form, there was a booth already SOLD OUT (see image above). For an event recently posted, it seemed unusual.  Another field of the form required immediate payment, which isn't unusual, but they only took zelle or paypal. Again, alarm bells went off. However, submitted my app. It didn't request anything more than what is public information so I figured why not.

Like circling vultures seeking their next meal, my application was approved with lightning speed and the scammer demanded payment to an email that I have had no contact or communication with. The name didn't match the event or the coordinator's name. Color me cautious. 

Not only was the email sus, but the scammer asked for payment to be made as "friends and family." At that moment, I knew this was a scam. For those that don't know, when you send payment by paypal as "friends and family," there is no getting your money back and there is no protection. You lose it all. 

I was (and am) livid. Scamming the people trying to make a living in these hard times is dirty, evil, and unforgivable. We work hard for what we earn and to lose it to a despicable lowlife is terrible. 

I could have ended the conversation there, blocked the scammer, and moved on...buuut where is the fun in that. I figured this scammer deserved one more email  So, using what little skills I have on editing photos on my phone, I created and sent a screen shot of me trying to pay the $300 dollars for the booth fees.

I then stated, "It (paypal) doesn't recognize you as a friend or family. Could you Send me $100 USD as family friends so that it will register us as family friends?"

I figured if I received $100 in my paypal, I would count it as payment for fishing out this scammer.  Unfortunately it didn't work. Instead, the scammer had a moment of anxiety, canceling the application, claiming the event was full and that my space was no longer available. 

"Unfortunately, the venue is currently sold out, and we will not be able to proceed with our plans. We appreciate your time and effort, and we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. Have a great day."

Flabbergasted that I was disinvited to this fake event, I had to reiterate my position. All she had to do was send me $100 and we could continue.

"Oh that is terrible, You just told me I had a spot, and the app still says there are spaces left. All you have to do is send me the money to become family and friends and we will be good."

The speed in the scammer's communication time is now to a crawl and I have yet to receive a response. In fact, I would be shocked to get anything more. Sadness. I suppose I will have to work for my $100.

After this was discovered to be a scam, I announced the warning in our North Idaho Events, Fairs, and Markets group, labeled it a scam everywhere I saw it, and moved on.  Secretly, I am still hoping for the $100.

Here are a few tips to help avoid scammers.
1. Always make sure you are talking with the official person in charge of the event. Research who to talk to and who takes money. If you have questions, ask people in the group. We are all a community and willing to help each other.
2. Avoid asking an event on a public page if there is space. I suggest sticking to messaging, emails, or talking directly to the person involved.
3. Never send money before an application. Most craft fairs require an application, approval, and then money. They will either send you an invoice, a place to pay, or call you.
4. If you have doubts, call the venue where the craft fair will be hosted to see if the event is scheduled at that location/ This will let you know if there is, in fact, something happening.
5. Ask a fellow crafter if the event is legit. They may have information you don't
6. Always be exceedingly cautious of any event requesting payment by Venmo, Zelle, or Paypal. Especially if they require it to be sent “as a friend or family.”

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