The Willie D Scam: Read Along As It Goes Down
Willie D is still cooling his heels in a Federal lock-up as we write this, but there's updates o'plenty. Hair Balls's old buddy Matt Sonzala posted a Willie D round-up on his blog yesterday.
To us, the most fascinating link Sonzala unearthed was this one, in which you can document in real time the rise and fall of TexasWireless.net, Willie D.'s alleged iPhone-scamming empire. (Their slogan: "Order in bulk and save big!!!")
(Also, please do not order anything from that hotlink above.)
Highlights of the thread below:
October 4, 2008 one St BoY of Jakarta opened the thread by asking if Texaswireless.net looked like a scam. St BoY said the online feedback was good, but was confused, "because if I buy in bulk, they don't want me to pay with Paypal. They only accepted credit card or wire transfer."
Alarm bells went off instantly. The next poster, one "John Fairheart," expressed concerns that while Texas Wireless was registered in 1991, it had no Web site or eBay profile until 2006 and 2008, respectively. The next day, "Poirot" expressed doubt that a company as successful as Texas Wireless claimed to be -- self-described as "one of the leading electronics wholesale distributors in the United States" -- would have such a negligible online presence.
On October 16, a Malaysian going by "Woot!" said he was still waiting for his iPhones ten days after the order. "But I'm giving them an extra few days because I live in Malaysia. I hope I didn't get scammed for $4003. Will keep you guys posted." Woot! went on to say that a tracking number had been requested, and an automated response was sent in reply.
By then, Poirot and Fairheart were all but convinced it was a scam. The supposedly automated response seemed too detailed, among other things.
On October 19, "Pildar" joined the party of the wronged. Pildar could not reach Texas Wireless through the phone or email. "For a company in business for 16 years and expanding to Europe, they are a joke!" he wrote. "I smell a skunk."
The foul odor also reached the nostrils of Saudi Arabian Ziad Tout, who had the following to say on October 21: "I called them and they sound fake to me...because the one answered the phone sounds like he just woke up from bed, and then he said he will transfer me to Dan [Phillips, alleged alias of Willie D], but I believe that the same person talked again but with different voice." (That's a neat trick -- maybe Willie D faked the voices of Scarface and Bushwick on all the Geto Boys records too.)
Woot! checked back in on October 24. By then, 20 days had passed since his order was placed, and still no iPhones. He wondered if he could get his money back somehow, and/or bring Texas Wireless to justice. "Is there anywhere I can make a report other than the local police? Because the local police here really sucks."
On November 6, one "Newtechnologieimport" from French Polynesia thundered that he was certain it was a scam. "I sayed us, I can pick up my items (I travel lot of around the world for my business..) and they say me: NO! I send a mail to say us: you're a scam, and no answer at this time..."
Later that day there came a forlorn missive from poor Woot! "It has been a month now and I still haven't received my goods, and they said delivery is 6-10 days."
Newtechnologieimport sent Woot! a Gallic shrug: "I'm sorry for you, but you had lost your money..and unfortunely we can do nothing......"
In February of this year, four more victims came forth. The last, a Greek going by "APhil," said that he had contacted "the Houston DA, the FBI and the IC3." (In the indictment, a Greek named Alex Phillippopolous was said to have been scammed out of nearly $40,000; IC3 is the Internet Crime Complant Center.)
"D Boz," another Malaysian, sheepishly admitted to have been scammed on March 26.
Last Thursday, news of Willie D.'s arrest reached the board. "Thanks for the good news," wrote D Boz. "Finally this guy is arrested and no more victim. What a relief."
Evidently, poor Woot! is still hoping those iPhones might yet make their way to Malaysia.