Discretion is the Better Part of Valor…

Was recently reading someone’s post on Facebook about not getting much response from the manufacturers with regards to a “yet to be named” kid’s contest he  was going to hold. It seemned to be an attempt at sympathy, along with the threat of naming those companies who did not respond or donate as he had hoped.  Having been the Marketing Director for Garrett Metal Detectors back in the late 80’s, it brought back a lot of memories…..

First of all, most all manufacturers, companies, businesses involved with the treasure hunting pastime do what they can to help promote it, and this  includes supporting clubs, charities and the like. When I was at Garrett it would depend a lot on the size of the club, the event, etc., and did we already  donate to them over the past few months.

17 metal detector winners, FMDAC Hunt,1987.........

17 metal detector winners, FMDAC Hunt,
1987………

Back then Garrett would usually donate a mid to low end detector, but as time went on the requests increased, and eventually hunt packages became  the norm, not just for us, but with most manufacturers. A hunt package might include caps, aprons, diggers, books, etc.. Keep in mind too that for each  metal detector we gave away it was potentially a lost sale for one of our local dealers…

I cannot begin to tell you how many requests we would receive each day, but it was a time consuming task, separating the good from the bad, the legit from the phony.  One particular request stands out in my mind, and let me see if I can remember some of the details…..

It was a letter from a Father John Smith (or something similiar) of St. Cheats Catholic Church (not a real church) in Chicago, Illinois, and he was writing on behalf of  Johnny Jones, who was diagnosed with a rare disease and had only a few weeks to live (photo included of an extremely emaciated young man, much like those you  would see from a WWII Nazi death camp).

Father Smith continued…”while on his death bed, one of Johnny’s last requests was to own a Garrett Master Hunter ADS metal detector (model GT#4555, page 8 in catalog), with  the 8 inch coil (catalog number GT333, page 15), deepseeking 14 inch (catalog number GT444, page 15), hard carrying case (catalog number GT555, page 16) and the Garrett digger  (catalog number GT666, page 17)”.

Father Smith asked if we could find it “in our heart” to send these items to Johnny’s home (address given), and if we did he knew it would make his last days on earth that much more memorable.

After all of us at the factory passed the letter around and had a good laugh, I decided to see if I could contact Father Smith, and called information for the number of St. Cheats  Catholic church in Chicago. Of course there was no listing, nor was there for Father Smith. I then decided to try and find a phone number for poor little  Johnny Jones (if of course he was still alive), and surprise, surprise….there was one.

I dialed the number, and a young man answered the phone….I asked if I might to talk to Johnny Jones, and he said “this is he”….. I asked how he  was feeling, and he was curious why I asked such a question. I said I heard about his rare condition and saw his photo, and it didn’t seem like he would be able  to pick up a phone, let alone talk as cheerfully as he did. Next thing I heard was a click….he hung up.

This story was of course over the top, and my sharing it is not meant to poke fun at clubs or anyone requesting help with events. It’s meant to remind you that you are not the only one asking. Just going  through all of these requests could be a full time job for many of the manufacturers, and may well be at this time (that was in the 80’s).

In any case, the individual on Facebook who got me thinking about all this needs to calm his anger, and his temptation to name those companies who didn’t  instantly sign on to his cause. He needs to know the treasure hunting business community is small and very close knit. In other wordsDon’t bite off your nose to spite your face

___________________________________________________________________

 SPEAKING OF FRAUD….

Published May 2011 in The Searcher UK detecting magazine

THE GEORDIE CONMAN

by John Winter

It isn’t always easy to write about the bad apples in the hobby, but we do have them and it must be done. What follows is a salutary tale involving many people, but  principally those from an on-line detecting forum. The members of this respected forum were cruelly used in a scam to make money.

GeordiePaul – the Fraud

In April last year a new subscriber, 42-year-old Paul White of Washington in Tyne and Wear joined the forum, using the pseudonym ‘GeordiePaul’ and pretending to be an  ex-paratrooper. He contributed well, made many posts and generally became what appeared to be a ‘respected’ member. Alas, appearances were proved deceptive.

Georgie Paul

Georgie Paul

At the end of May 2010 and after being a member for only just over a month, White informed people that he had to sell his detector because his three-year-old daughter  had become very ill and he needed money quickly. When pressed by concerned forum members for more information he said that she had a ‘rare form of brain tumour’ and if  she didn’t have the treatment would go blind or even die.

He went on to say that, as the operation couldn’t be done in England, the best and fastest way of sorting it out was to have the treatment done in America – and soon.  Evidently, ‘the specialists had moved the goal posts’ and he needed an extra £500 – that was why he had to sell his detector!

Initially, White never asked for money but was buoyed by forum members offering to send various amounts so he set up a PayPal account for those wishing to contribute  saying, “I know this is cheaky (sic), but if any of you could maybe donate a pound or so, I’d be eternally grateful.”

Naturally, many people started sending money – detectorists are caring people, but there were some who were a little more circumspect and started asking questions both  on and off forum that were either ignored or never satisfactorily answered.

America and the Last Post

Purporting to be logging on from America, White reassured members that the operation had gone well and his little girl would be fine – “thank God!” Unknown to him the  forum owners were monitoring his posts and concluded that he was sending from a computer on Tyneside. After a week of evidence gathering and compiling a dossier of all  the evidence, they forwarded the file to the Northumbrian police.

In his last post to the forum, White thanked everybody who had helped him ‘over these troubling times’, but unfortunately he had been getting some ‘disturbing’ emails  and asked for his account to be deleted. He ended by saying, “Thank you very much. We Paras never forget!” We learned later that shortly afterwards he treated his family on  an overseas holiday!

Arrest and Sentencing

Paul White, alias GeordiePaul, was arrested on July 30 last year on suspicion of obtaining money via the transfer site PayPal and charged with dishonesty offences  on November 30 at the Houghton-Le-Spring magistrate’s court.

He pleaded guilty to four fraud charges and was sentenced to a 12-month community order with 120 hours unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay more than £550 in  compensation.

As I said in my introduction, writing about such things isn’t easy and there is a tendency to brush them under the carpet. Thanks mainly to Shane Rear and his  diligence in ensuring and running a ‘good’ forum, this story can be told. Although GeordiePaul has a small child, she wasn’t suffering from a brain tumour and he was  simply using her in a scam to get cash. Be vigilant!

___________________________________________

RELIC ROUNDUP SHOW LAST NIGHT

Last night’s Relic Roundup was very disappointing. Mark Schuessler was the guest, and I had hoped to hear about new directions for the FMDAC, but when  the show ended I hadn’t learned a thing.

Mark is certainly the perfect guy to get this group on track, but unfortunately he did not have much of anything new to offer.  I hate to criticize but why come on a show, and then mention that you do not have a viable website, or for that matter, a definitive group of officers, and/or some plan to get  members enthused again. How long must they wait? Getting a decent website up and running is very important, and I am assuming the FMDAC has some money  left in it’s coffers, or do they not?

I also wish the gang at Relic Roundup would find a way to screen the callers so that the topic at hand can’t be sidetracked. Between a fifteen minute introduction,  a few commercials and phone calls, you’re lucky to hear 30 minutes of what it was you tuned in for.

Lastly If I hear one more mention of the “Silver Seekers” I will croak! It’s pretty much common knowledge that this group “morphed” from the FMDAC, and became  nothing more than a large social group, causing many member clubs and invidiuals to drop  out of the Federation. Here’s hoping the FMDAC develops it’s own identity, and once again becomes an organization that all TH’er want to be part of.

Now, go ahead and beat me up…..

************

17 Comments

Filed under Metal Detecting

17 responses to “Discretion is the Better Part of Valor…

  1. Facebook can be an abomination, Dick! I saw what you refer to and the pack mentality that ensued from the guy’s ‘followers’. Annihilation of a brand without any redress. All that and not even a kid’s event organised. A chancer – you are right.

    The Geordie (Geordie is both a regional nickname for a person from the Tyneside region of North East England) conman is a salutary warning for all those inhabiting internet detecting forums … well-written too! 🙂

    • You are right about Facebook….even though I am a regular visitor there. One comment, true or false, right or wrong, can cause a great deal of harm.

      Thanks for allowing me to share the Searcher article…..I appreciate it.

  2. Publisher

    That’s an awesome post!

    Butch Holcombe, Publisher

    American Digger Magazine

    http://www.americandigger.com

    american digger logo working copy copy

  3. Publisher

    If I leave your name out, and Garretts name, can I use that in the next Never Mace A Skunk book?

    Butch Holcombe, Publisher

    American Digger Magazine

    http://www.americandigger.com

    american digger logo working copy copy

  4. As to the Relic Roundup show: as the host I can only say we do the best with what we have. Everyone on the show is unpaid volunteers and our operating budget is zero (ads on there now are strictly exchanges, no $$). In fact, I pay for the air time out of pocket. Frankly, it would be nice to see someone take out a paid ad (VERY cheap) to help us, but a lack of suport finiancially seems to be a general problem throughout the hobby. Thus we are at the mercy of what is availiable for free, which is far less than perfect. I’d urge anyone to jump in and help us set up a call screening service, we certainly wont turn away qualified volunteers, if they have the know how. As to the lack of info by the guest, that will vary from one to the next. Either way it is informative, right? In defense of Mark, he has been president less than a month and inherited a mess. His coming on the show was more of an introduction, I guess. But please, give the man a chance! The FMDAC could use help, but where are the volenteers when needed? Hello? Anyone out there? THAT’S the problem in our hobby: everyone wants to be sideline quarterbacks but don’t want to become part of the solution. (Not you Dick, you did your time in the FMDAC…and thanks!!) JMHO.

    • I knew I would get beat up….

      Butch I do know that you guys do it for free, and that perhaps it wasn’t right for me to criticize, but then again if no one ever shared their thoughts, change would never happen.

      I also understand the messy situation that Mark has decided to take on. I suspect I am more upset at those officers who, for months, have never attempted to communicate to their members. I also know of very good people who attempted to help (one even took over handling the website), but ultimately walked away when they realized that no one really cared or said thank you.

      I have a special place in my heart for the FMDAC, and I will always remember all the many hardworking individuals who helped get it off the ground, and it irritates me no end to see it go down hill by a bunch of people who only care about RV’ing, socializing, and having a good time. JMO.

      I wish Mark well, and hope that the FMDAC once again becomes “that one organization” you feel good about. Right now it’s not even close.

      • Let me also add that I have the utmost respect for Mark Schuessler. When every other officer/leader in the FMDAC took to hiding, he was the only one who answered questions, and kept people on top of important legislative issues. What we need is 100 more Mark Schuesslers.

  5. bill from lachine

    Dick,

    Well thought out post…I must admit being an honest sort….I do get stung from time to time….I don’t always have my scam radar on.

    Regards + HH

    Bill

    • Please Bill, don’t stop being the honest sort. This post was prompted by someone who seemed to think that everyone owed him something for an event that wasn’t even scheduled or planned.

  6. Mike Smith

    I have helped organize hunts for over 13 years, and have never had any problem getting donations from the manufacturers. But you have to be legitimate, send them all your papers (hunt forms), and get them in the hands of the right people at the factory.

    Glad they caught and prosecuted the fraudster. Too bad the sentence was not harsher.

    Listened into the American Digger program last night. Enjoyed the program very much. I now have hope for the FMDAC now that there is new leadership. As you stated, the previous officers failed to communicate with the members, but not for months, for years. Over the past 7 years they had a lot of quaility people but the National Officers failed to utilize them and they left.

    So best wishes to Mark and if I see progress, my fellow club members and I will join later this year. But we have to see and hear more from the FMDAC.

    Mobile, ALABAMA

    • Mike, I am aware of all that you did for the group, and wish you had stayed on. I do however understand why you dropped out.

      Hopefully Mark can perform a few more miracles and get this group back on track. Thanks for your input, and hope you will get involved again down the road…..

  7. To Butch…take poor ole Johnny wherever. True story…..

  8. Great post as always Dick. Unfortunately there will always be bad apples, as long as there are people with no morals and respect for the hobby it will endure. We need more participation and that is hard to get. I spent 8 years as president of the Midwest Historical Research Society because we couldn’t get others to get involved.

    Everyone wants to go to meetings and attend club hunts but ask them to help and the room is empty! LOL! Don’t want to project that no one helps but it does always seem to be the same 8 to 10 individuals. With all the people buying detectors you would think we would get more new blood wanting to help?

    • Hey Ron, you finally figured all that out….?

      I do know about all those many years you put in with the MHRS, and thank you. The older I get, and the more technology I see, the harder it will be to get the really caring involved. JMO…..

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