International Criminal in My Own Backyard
Yes, it's true. This past week I've been fairly involved, offering moral support and doing a bit of sleuthing because one of the lampworking artists on LampworkEtc.com, where I spend a good deal of time sharing and learning, discovered that several members of our community had been victims of fraud.
The whole thing has unraveled into something resembling one of those bizarre late night crime shows.
A popular (alleged) lampworker on Etsy, it was discovered, has been buying up large quantities of beads on eBay and directly from lampworkers online and at shows, then breaking sets up into singles and small sets and reselling them at shows and on Etsy for a profit, claiming they're the work of her own hands from her Milan, Italy studio (while simultaneously claiming on another Etsy shop that she was a pastry chef in Texas).
Once the discovery was made, artists from all over came forward to identify their beads, and their work was verified in many cases by the wonderful paper trail of eBay's sold items and from their own photo archives. It was a bit of a shock, to say the least, that someone would have the brass to claim other's work as her own on a venue like Etsy, but she'd done it dozens of times. Sadly, although multiple complaints from those whose work she claimed as her own were submitted to Etsy, her Etsy bead shop is still open.
Her face should be on an FBI wanted poster for internet fraud.
A lot of people were hurt, their good reputations and talents used by this person. But ironically, where compost is thrown, flowers do indeed bloom when the light of the sun shines. From our online community of LampworkEtc.com, word spread to the self-representing jewelry designers' community and to IndiePublic. People started coming to read and to ask, who really made the beads I bought from Ullja?
It was an amazing and beautiful thing to see. The world is so big, but when people reach out, it's small enough that a designer wanting to put a name to a set of beads she'd designed her jewelry around could come and find The Truth.