A Scam Artist Amongst Us?
I hate that I’m writing this, but I am. It makes me feel like I’m becoming some sort of dictator/bitch. Unfortunately, not all sex bloggers & sex toy reviewers run in the same social circles online and so not enough people (like me) knew about the first time Amanda ripped off a blogger. I guess it’s because I tend not to follow a lot of review-bloggers on Twitter; sometimes those who have blogs just for product reviews have Twitter streams that largely consist of contest entries. That’s fine, but I don’t follow them for that reason. And therefore I missed this when it happened last November. Jenn wrote about how Nichole got ripped off by a blogger/reviewer. There was much drama, as there tends to be, because the guilty party started threatening to sue for libel or slander and she continues with much more.
The snowball of con started last week when a ToySwap member hesitantly contacted me saying that she had sent Amanda money in lieu of swapping an item for an item, but hadn’t heard from her in weeks and she wanted advice on what to do about it. I used the email address she’d signed up under, a few days later I used the email address she has listed in her ToySwap profile and asked her repeatedly to please respond to me. I didn’t even say why. The other member also tried again. My gut told me to temporarily suspend Amanda until this got resolved; so I posted in our forums that I intended to suspend her but if anybody else had a pending swap with her that I wouldn’t, in case ToySwap was their only means of communication. 1 person simply said they have a pending swap, but I don’t know if it is in the same state of affairs as the other two – yes, two more for a total of three who sent Amanda money and then have not heard from her. Since she had completed a few swaps with good results with other members, these people trusted that all would go well again.
(we’re not even going to get into the whole “why are people selling instead of swapping” aspect, there are pros and cons to each side of that debate and all three could easily have sent this chick items instead of money and still gotten ripped off)
I’ve tried to track Amanda down. The blogs that she has listed in her ToySwap profile are both gone/empty (thisthatandmyself.blogspot.com/ and thrapport.wordpress.com). She used to have a Twitter account linked, but that is gone. She has gone by the following names on Twitter / EF / ToySwap: Amanda, AmandaAgan, LadyA, AKAme, AKA2010 and is currently on EF as Secret. There are probably more but I’ve never followed her for various reasons so I haven’t kept up with the merry-go-round. The blog she started with promises to pay people for their reviews (and apparently she never did) was reviewcentral2010.wordpress.com. I considered posting her email addresses here, but I won’t, even though most of them are still out there publicly on her defunct sites. She linked to an Amazon wishlist from her ToySwap profile, and so far as I can tell it lists her real name so despite the fact that it looks like she’s scamming others, I’m still reluctant to publish that info. The last name on the Amazon wishlist is the same last name as the Paypal account that is, presumably, in her husband’s name. She’s also done something called thefunroom.wordpress.com and there are mentions on there about her paying people for things. Again, it’s a site that doesn’t last long. .amandasplayground.wordpress.com is yet another dead site, as is funroomwebcams.blogspot.com. The trail of dead sites, projects and abandoned email addresses and usernames is frankly dizzying. I will say that the person who appears to be connected to her (or at least her paypal account) is also vanished from his blog/twitter/etc but his EF profile remains. I’m posting all this in order to help someone else in the future identify her/them as scammers. Presumably because all monetary thefts were $100 or less, nobody bothered to take legal action – but I’m not so sure any would, given the adult nature of things. I’d heard on MakeupAlley of people who would alert authorities when they were “swap-lifted” but that was cosmetics.
Even though I merely host the site and I know that I’m not responsible for people’s swaps, a little part of me still feels responsible. But just as in life, we can’t trust everybody we meet. Plenty of bloggers have been outed as untrustworthy, scammers or worse. I can only hope that the swappers she screwed over didn’t send her a lot of money or that Paypal will be able to help them (I’ve suggested that all three log a dispute with Paypal; hopefully if Paypal sees that three people are complaining about the same person, they will take some action but the account isn’t even in her name). I also hate that this whole drama will give other innocent people and ToySwap a bad name. But, then again, I don’t know of anyone else who has changed their name online as much as her. That should have been a big ole red flag…..but if you’re new to the community or not a daily EF visitor, you probably wouldn’t have known. I wish that Ning had a feedback system like Etsy / Ebay does, but Ning isn’t meant for this sort of thing. Amanda deleted all the comments from her profile except the few “thanks for the swap!” ones to show she’d done a few. Those currently leaving a comment on her wall will get nowhere. The only thing that can be done on ToySwap that she is unable to delete is forum posts about her.
I sincerely hope that this sort of thing won’t ever happen again but…..we can’t give blind trust. Just be careful and do more research, I guess. And when someone does screw you over, speak up. It’s the only way to hopefully attempt to prevent it from happening again.
Update: As a commenter “suggested” below, I do want to update this post no matter which way things turn out. I’ve tried to keep in the loop with those who are still, as of Nov 18th, waiting on the items they paid her for. Another member stopped by the site and mentioned that she’d sent money more than 4 months ago with no responses. Amanda’s reviewing on EF continues. I can understand life problems very well but to be updating your toy reviews and somehow still be oblivious to everything else going on with emails and whatnot?? She started a new blog (agardenofsecrets.blogspot.com, posting as Amanda Ruckman) and will be swapping on her own there. She mentioned in her first post that items will be sent out very soon (this is what she said 3 weeks ago) but she presents a distorted view. “I have stayed in contact with everyone and did not realize there was a problem until I found out that I was going to be removed via a forum post that I happened to read.” Umm…..no. That’s not true. If she’d stayed in contact with everyone, I wouldn’t have had 2 people come to me and others chime in that they’d paid her ages ago and have had no response or items. I sent her email to all of her known addresses and the first she hears of any problems is happening to read the forum post?? No. False. I considered saying that in a comment on her site but then realized that it was highly unlikely she would let the comment publish. Like I said, life happens, shit happens, but to pull the ignorant doe-eyed act and pretend like it’s something that it isn’t….that’s not cool. It’s not trustworthy.