WARNING! - Edi Vichien (?) from Agustus Collection - money embezzlement!

Wow, Marina, that's even more awful. Either HE'S the hacker, or using the that hacker story as cover. There were warnings of that "your relative is abroad and ill, in an accident or hospital and stranded with no money" scam before Covid even, not necessarily attributed to Russians, just hackers of anonymous nefarious states. But if this guy was still running a legitimate business, he'd have business insurance, and he'd be doing everything he could to get a copy of your entire track of correspondence to turn over to his insurance and lawyer, to protect his business and his customers. The fact that he's not, is telling ... oh, so sad. I agree with everyone else, contact a lawyer, your insurance, Paypal again ... this is serious fraud and worth fighting over. Good luck.
Not knowing a lot about international law, but since there usually are different laws in different countries how does one solve a thing like this? Does international law treaties excist? Probably I would think. This sure is a mess.
I believe he is stationed in Indonesia, so it could be possible that it can be near to impossible to do much, but PayPal does not condone FRAUD and they could close his account (with his money in it, if any). Of course, he could try to open a new one...but if proven he is the same company, they would close it up again.
He should just give Marina her pearls if not the money. Money would be the best option, since the pearls will come "tainted" with a dark emotional experience :(
Wow! What a horrible story. By using Friends and Family, you actually paid the fee to send him the money he took from you. I was under the impression that friends and family also doesn't have the purchase protection either.
Oh no! This is a terrible story! What a vulnerable feeling it must be to be scammed by someone you thought you could trust. I'm new to the forum and pearl collecting, but this is a good cautionary tale. If I get deeper into collecting I'll stay on my guard. I almost want to but something from him so I can give him a negative review, but that would only be putting MORE money in his pocket. :(
I am under the same impression about the PayPal "friends and family" in that you pay the fee, AND have fewer business protections. (Hi Wendy!) I usually won't work with anyone who asks for Friends and Family, although I have done it once or twice. Even if the vendor is scrupulously honest, things can happen in shipping etc., and to lose all possible protections is scary.

I mentioned this on another thread ... I am wondering about the name. Nearly everyone else on PG who bought from Agustus mentions "Sven" who I think was a member here; I've not seen the name in Masik's correspondence. I wonder if this "Edi" is not really connected, or if the company may have changed hands ... maybe why so many were happy and suddenly a terrible experience ... a different person entirely? I do think at least a letter from a lawyer is in order; sometimes that can work wonders.
I often read the posts on PG but not post often, but I want this time because this is terrible for Masik.
I heard from Sven and Edi from my niece who lived a long time in Bali where they operated from. Sven also has an appartment in Bangkok and years ago I learnt that he was investing in a small bungalow park somewhere there. Edi then started to do the daily operation of the pearl related business.

I can do some efforts to let Bali people check on him but need his address then.
This is terrible. I am so sorry it happened to you, Masik. And thank you for blowing the whistle. I just bought from this seller 4 weeks ago and he actually left me very good impression. If not for your experience, I would never relate him to this kind of story. $6k is a LOT of money no matter in what country. I hope you can eventually get it back. Best of luck to you!
I often read the posts on PG but not post often, but I want this time because this is terrible for Masik.
I heard from Sven and Edi from my niece who lived a long time in Bali where they operated from. Sven also has an appartment in Bangkok and years ago I learnt that he was investing in a small bungalow park somewhere there. Edi then started to do the daily operation of the pearl related business.

I can do some efforts to let Bali people check on him but need his address then.

Thank you Cees! That would be helpful indeed. I don't have his address but maybe someone in the forum has and they will be able to share it with us.
I wish you all a great start of the week.
Cees, it's very kind of you to offer to help Masik. Maybe your contacts can shed some light, and a resolution can be found for all parties.
Good morning!
Just got a warning for all, regarding this case...Edi has a new webstore under Etsy called OrientalEmpire.
Sorry. Not much into Etsy nor eBay...but still, important to make a note here that even if they have different store names, it is the same person behind them...so you have the same risk.
What a dreadful mess. Sven was great to deal with so I'm sorry he's not the owner anymore. I hope you are able to get some satisfaction. They should be able to mail now. If nothing else he should be able to get ahold of the wholesaler, he does seem to be able to send emails... But certainly Covid hit that area very hard.

Very best of luck !
I did email edi, via ebay, when Masik first wrote this tread to inform him about it so that he could make things right. I thought that if his accounts had all been hacked and then he had to make new ones, he might not be getting the messages. Masik would just be sending messages to the wrong person. But I got the same story as Masik get, clearly pasted into the respons.
I have been thinking about this situation a lot. In sweden frauds are getting increasingly common, what with electronical id:s and what not. Ithad come to the point that your are not suppose to click any link, whatsoever. Instead you are to log in to that website (the real one for example to pay for postage fees or whatever, one you should now already of course) separately. If you are careless the bank will not cover your expenses anymore.
My question then is this. What responisbility does the consumer or Masik in this case have. By using the friends and family option, does this makes one careless? Also if edi has been hijacked are he then responsible for the hijackers doings? Ane if so for how long? For example, I get a text from the postal service about some custom fee, it looks real and I click the link. I might then be hacked and the postal service isn't at all responsible, even though they infact send out texts as this. I always use their real site, not the link since they frequently are fake. When I pay mostly this is done vis swish, I don't know if thid is a swedish things, where you instantely send someone money regardless of what bank they have using your electronical id. The recipient has to have swish to of course. It's mostly when you use the electronical id you get hacked. Elderly are targeted a lot. But the original company is never responisble, they do warn about this constantly. If edi had issued a warning right away, somehow maybe via ebay, would it then not be his responisbility anymore?
What I am really asking is, what responisbility does the seller and the buyer has. And how does one handle this internationally, with each country having it's own law?
Good questions all Charlotta. And hard to answer because of all the details you have clearly mentioned, and as the saying goes: "The Devil is in the Details".
Masik was not a 1st time buyer, she had made previous purchases utilizing official channels and on this particular last purchase it all went down to hell. Many here on the forum have suggested over time -and time and time again- to purchase using reputable buyers. I am always advocating to utilize your "local companies" (this saves in shipping, export/import fees and makes refunds/exchanges easier too. But local refers to your country in these days of the internet too) because this gives you a better guarantee of success against any issues because you have the same (Federal) laws.
In any case, this should serve as a warning to us all about the security issues raised by purchasing items on the internet using "alternative means": if you pay via PayPal, use the acceptable manner, not via "Friends & Family", if the company has an eStore, then use the store and avoid eMail transactions, and so forth.

In the end...if you have an international fraud case and you go to the lawyers...you might end up spending much more on them, than what you spent and had them swindle you for. They know this.

I have a "personal" case to tell about: last year, one of my twin daughters wanted a "manga doll" (a Japanese exclusive) and the shipping & fees to get it home from Japan made the doll worth about $150 dollars, so she looked around on eBay and found the same doll on pre-sale for just $70 dollars, but she had to pay the company $10 dollars to have it "on hold" for her and when finally available she had to pay the rest. They gave her a deadline: 3 months.
To make the story short, when the time limit was up the "company" had disappeared and PayPal considered that after 90 days there was no way to file a claim. They did not scam her for thousands, but they scammed hundreds of other people and made some good money from us all! For us, it was not worth the time to go after them. My daughter learned the lesson: better to buy from a reputable seller at the actual price, than to "save money" and actually just loose it all (yes, the figurine was a "limited edition" so she could not get it afterwards because it was sold out).

So, there are responsibilities here for all. But if you trust in people because someone has recommended their inventories or services, then you become a customer and make larger purchases...and then the axe swings on you. We should all be informed, and we should all know this is happening and we should abhor these fraudulent operations. Stick to reliable and reputable sellers and always use the proper ways to pay them. Make sure the vendor has a complete satisfaction guarantee...we could make a list but probably someone out there -on the net- has made such a list available. I will look it up and if -or when- I find it I will share it right here.

Anyway, such a sad issue.
A lot of risk can be avoided by only using "Friends and Family" for its intended use. It is not meant for purchases and offers no buyer protection. When sellers request payment via "Friends and Family" they are asking their buyers to take on risk, just to avoid a small fee.
I see this often, on Loupe Troop and elsewhere, but I won't pay anyone that way. I'd rather pay the PayPal fee myself, and keep my buyer protection.
As an aside comment, it is absurdly easy to set up a paypal account. But organising payments by visa or mastercard is complex and even harder than opening a bank account.
Any sales website without a snail address and which only accepts paypal....? Nah.
Charlotta, CortezPearls, Pearl Dreams, pearlsence,
Guys, you are all right and yes, "caveat emptor", it is my own fault, etc....

The thing is I didn't find this guy under the rock - he was mentioned on this platform as a reputable seller, some of P-G-ers met him in person - on Bali, in HK, etc. I've dealt with him via eBay, I sent him $9K+ on transactions before last and everything was fine - he shipped quickly, shipped the right product, he answered his whatsapp messages.... UNTIL HE DIDN'T.
I won't name names as I have no permission for it - but he tried to stiff somebody - VERY reputable on this forum! - out of paying off what he owed by saying "he was robbed", but that person was having none it and had a sway over him (reputation!), so Edi paid back. But he tried using sob stories before when he owed money, I was not his first. I wish I knew that earlier...

BTW, here, on this forum are other really wonderful sellers we all know, whom I (and I am sure some of you!) paid the same way as I did with Edi.
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