Wednesday, March 20, 2013


For the past month or so I have been stringing along a person who claims to be opening several shops in Romania.  Hopefully I can be of guidance to others in the fashion industry by exposing how fraudsters work.

The correspondence is outlined here. Names have not been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.

Dear Don,
First, let me introduce myself. My name is Alex Leca,C.E.O of the
WATCH-IT company, which managed by me and my associate.Our website is in developing stage...brands we which we create our image, so we are very careful with our selection of partners,because we want to expand in the next few years. Looking forward to your reply asap and wishing you a nice day  

Alarm bells start to go off- calling himself a C.E.O / no website/  using asap. I'm instantly cautious but willing to play along. 
I'm curious and I send him my price list with a minimum order for wholesale purchases. Minimum is not a great deal but if you are buying 50% off then the order should be substantial. All terms and conditions included.

Hi Don,
I hope you are well. Thanks for your mail and info kindly provided. Can we choose just a few evaluation samples, for our needed review. We look forward to possibility of working together in the future. With best wishes.

I explain to him again the minimum purchase amount for 50% off. I'm thinking he wants some cheap clothes for himself and posing as a store owner. One or two pieces are NOT wholesale terms.

What is curious is there has been no mention of where he saw my label or which particular items he was interested in. The other curious thing is he has not given me an address of the store he is opening. I don't hear from him for a few days so I send him a message...

Hi Alex, 
Perhaps my last email did not get to you. Just wondering how the shop is going?
Love to hear an update of how it is running- you did show enthusiasm for stocking my label.
Regards, Don

Thank you for your reply. Our physical stores are due to open in April. Kindly advise about the samples matter as soon. 

I have advised him on the samples (minimums and terms and conditions.) but he seems to be sticking to some form of script. Time to rev it up a bit...

Alex, Good to hear from you. Just a question...Where are the stores located? I have a friend heading to Bulgaria, and keen to get to Romania too- perhaps they can visit you on my behalf. Just send me the name of the shop and address- that would be wonderful! 
Oh, do you have a website too?

Hello Don,
I am currently travelling and would need a few samples by the end of this month. 
Indeed, our shops are in Romania, in the construction stage at the moment, in Bucharest, Sibiu and Brasov
All the best, Alex

More alarm bells here: He is travelling while he is opening three stores- lucky him! Again no actual address and another demand for samples. He has not mentioned the name of the stores and has no web presence either so I have a little push...

Alex, Glad to hear it is moving along! What did you say the name of the shop was again??? Also, do you have a web page or facebook page to drum up business??? Oh, and which particular pieces were you interested in? Cheer, Don

Hello Don,
Our retail shops will be called ESSENTIALS, and aren't yet advertised, until we have all needed brands on board.
Kindly advise from which collection can we choose the needed samples or forward a catalog better yet with current collection, ready to be ordered.
Sincerely, Alex Leca

I Google Essentials in Romania- nothing even remotely close. Again I get a push for the 
samples. I have already sent  price list and catalog! I make him do some homework...

Sorry to be a bother, but which other brands will you be stocking? It would be nice to get a 'feel' for the stores.
Cheers, Don

Dear Don,
As I will concentrate more on accessories and bags, will be stocking also Bison Made, Primo Luxe and Think Neves, among others.
Kindly advise about the catalog matter .
Sincerely,  Alex

Seriously? The catalog? I have a giggle too- bags are accessories! 
I think about emailing those brands, but I don't want to waste anyone's time. Crunch time and I ask for money. He does not like that...

Alex, Just let me know which items you would like from the catalog you would like, transfer owing into my bank account, and I will express post them to you. Cheers, Don

Dear Don,
We don't require an entire collection, but only one or two review samples... Men's Military Gilet Waistcoat from Military Coat & Men's acrylic treated cotton button-front shirt.
received free of cost and sent back afterwards, as support from the company with
whom will make business afterwards. We would waste only precious time for such a small amount sent, as we use only T/T bank transfers.
Wishing you the best, Alex Leca

It is the moment I have been waiting for! The ball drops, the scam has arrived! Free of cost? Sent to the other side of the world? Bullshit! 
One final thing before I shoot him down in flames...

Alex, Sure, send me the address of the store. Don

Dear Urbandon,
Thank you for your decision. Is it possible to include also the Contraband vintage 3 pocket leather bag?
Kindly send the samples to following postal address,exactly as it follows,with no adding :
Attn. Alexandru Leca
Blvd.Tomis ******************       
Constanta CT 900432 Romania
T : 0727001444
 ***  For easy customs clearance,please put a maximum 10 USD TOTAL VALUE
on the package papers and describe them as samples with no commercial

Incredibly he wants me to lie on a postal form ( in which I would lose all insurance on if lost) but not surprisingly his address is residential. 
Game over man, game over!

I have been stringing you along all this time. From your first email I could tell you just wanted clothes for yourself. You have no internet presence, no retail address and no business credibility.
At no stage you praised my label, told me where you had seen my label or been specific in your requests for pieces. Your business addresses have not been forthcoming and hysterically you don't even have a facebook page or website before you open your three stores! 
Purchasing half a dozen pieces minimum would be the least of your expenses in opening three stores.
The fact that you disputed my terms of wholesale- wanting to purchase only a couple of pieces at wholesale prices- and now asking for pieces for free while lying to Australia Post/ customs over the true value of posted items: Illegal and unprofessional. 
Clearly you are a *******************  ************ ************** if you think I am going to just send you pieces to someone with no shop or business skills. 
So long and thanks for the fun, **********************

What can we learn from this? Don't trust anyone unless you can google them and find anything that would support their story. Professionals just don't use this type of language in their emails. Unless they can give you addresses, names and evidence of a legitimate business then don't touch them. Never send them anything...or you could just string them along for fun.

Be warned!

UPDATE: (22/3/13)

Hello Mr Pezzano,
This person just bought some watches from us a couple of years ago but we haven’t had any continuous business relationship with him and we haven’t heard from him in a long time. He is NOT one of our authorized dealers.
His behavior has been kind of dodgy and from our experience I would not recommend this person as a business partner. 
Popochos is a well known brand and we sell worldwide. Of course if you are interested in receiving catalogues and price lists of our products, don't hesitate to ask me.
Have a nice day,
Popochos Watches