Design Theft or Outright Scam

UPDATE: THESE SITES ARE SCAMMING!

See my new post with a better update, including links to more information and how you can report the scamming ads and pages to Facebook.

There seems to be a never-ending succession of sites popping up, often advertising with photos in Facebook. Those who have tried to order are reporting that the product is never delivered. Complaints to Facebook haven’t been going anywhere, according to those commenting below and other comments I’ve seen. Facebook claims that the ads don’t violate their standards. There are 3 things about this that are illegal and/or unethical: 1) they are stealing money from people who order products in good faith; 2) they are stealing information from people, including name, address, credit card number, etc.; 3) they are stealing photos of quilts and presumably other items to show as the items for sale.

If you see these ads in Facebook, please comment to warn others that the ad and site are a scam. Thanks as always for reading here.

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Some of you are aware of the quilting-and-copyright research project called Just Wanna Quilt. I wrote a little about it here.

Besides the website with interview podcasts (including mine!), there is also a Facebook group linked to the research. The lead researcher, Elizabeth Townsend Gard, is using the group as a way to learn more about the culture of quilting. You can join, too!

Because the research focuses on intellectual property, Facebook group members post interesting items on the topic. Recently there was a post about a company that, apparently, steals quilt designs and prints them on low-quality blanket material. Or perhaps, what they’re doing is using the designs to collect orders, with credit card information, and then not delivering on the order. Whether it is phishing or scamming or stealing designs, it’s kind of horrifying that they are making money on the backs of talented designers and quilters.

Here are three of the companies that are involved with this. I’m not going to add active links, but you can check for yourself if you’re interested. Company names include
ustrendygear.com
greatbuyaz.com
usgearviral.com

A friend tagged me with a link to a picture of a great “quilt blanket” offered by one of these companies. The price of the supposed blanket was $49.95. It was NOT a quilt. And again, without trying to make a purchase, who knows if there really is a product, or if it is a phishing scam?

I looked up the quilt design the friend showed me. It was an elaborately appliquéd quilt, pattern by McKenna Ryan. You can find the pattern, as listed for sale by Ryan’s own site, here. The image below is a linked image from Pine Needles, Ryan’s store. As you can see, this is NOT a cheap blanket. It’s not a $50 item. The actual value would be in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars, based on all the time required to replicate it in appliqué.

McKenna Ryan’s pattern And On That Farm, https://www.pineneedles.com/And-On-That-Farm-s/1920.htm

Here is the product description from the scammer company page (NOT McKenna Ryan’s company.)

And here is a screen shot of the “returns policy” for the scammer company.

I clicked through the link my friend gave me, and on that original post, I said it was McKenna Ryan’s design, and the company appeared to have stolen the design to print it on cheap blanket fabric. Soon after, whoever originally posted it removed the link.

Have you seen this type of Facebook post? You’re welcome to share my post with friends or your online quilting groups, if you’d like to warn them of the scams.

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86 thoughts on “Design Theft or Outright Scam

  1. Lisa J.

    I’m not on facebook much so I haven’t come across this. It looks like phishing to me as they aren’t showing their own products. Very weird. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to buy one.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I was surprised that my friend tagged me with one just after it had come up in the group. I hadn’t seen them before. I’m on facebook a lot, but my realm is pretty limited. 🙂 Thanks for taking a look. I’m with you, can’t figure why someone would buy one, unless they truly don’t know how much real quilts are worth. And really, most people don’t. Thanks.

  2. Carole S.

    This is seriously scary! They’re stealing copyrighted patterns for their own profit! I’ve seen Jen Kingwell’s, Violet Craft’s, McKenna’s, and lots of others. Looks like they’re lifting the photos from Instagram. How on earth does this get stopped?

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Hi Carole. Thanks for commenting. It is scary and I can’t guess how it gets stopped. My thought is, you could inform all the designers about the violations, and they could spend a ton of money on attorneys to stop their particular parts of it, and maybe get the particular domains to shut down those sites, but they’ll just pop up elsewhere. It’s like a bad infection. Sick. 😦

  3. katechiconi

    For $50, I’d hope nobody would imagine they were getting an actual quilt with the level of detail apparent in the photo… A lot of people have trouble understanding that public images do not belong to everyone. It’s ignorance, laziness and a solid chunk of dishonesty, behaving in a way they wouldn’t like others to behave towards them. I’m not on FB so I haven’t seen anything like this and I find it pretty shocking. I don’t know how to actively protect images, unless it’s to suggest that no quilt is ever photographed straight on, to make it impossible to lift an entire design from the internet, and perhaps have a large copyright ‘shadow’ across it. We shouldn’t need to do these things, but then, we shouldn’t need to lock our doors, either…

    1. Wendy

      As far as not photographing quilts straight on, I can fix that in Photoshop in about 2 minutes, and I’m not all that good at it. It’s impossible to control what gets photographed at quilt shows, and many of these are either show quilts or published patterns. Easy enough to lift a photo from an online catalog in less than a minute, and they generally aren’t watermarked in that situation. I don’t have any good solutions to unethical behavior. Ethical behavior needs to be instilled in childhood, and even then, things go wrong.

  4. CreatedByBella

    Thank you for reporting on this. There are way too many hard working artists who are having their work stolen everyday. It’s posts like this that help to educate the world and that is the first step to stopping the copyright infringements. Great post Melanie.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks, Bella. As you say, there’s no real remedy except education. As long as people can make a buck the easy way, some won’t choose to do so honorably.

  5. Kerry

    Wow! I don’t go on FB as much as I used to, just now and again and try to avoid the politics! Sometimes friends tag me for something like an animal or quilts, but thankfully have never come across that. Or if I have, I’ve not looked into it close enough – maybe I should in future just to check.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      🙂 I get what you mean about not checking those things closely. I usually don’t, either, and wouldn’t have in this case if not already seen another post warning about it. Thanks for the comment.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I rarely see ads in facebook, really. I have a blind spot for them. 🙂 But I think there must be profit in running ads there or companies wouldn’t do it. Thanks, Mary.

  6. Norma

    I’m one of the victims of ustrendygear picture theft. After a little research I’ve found the parent “company “ is based in Vietnam with the web host in Canada and bouncing to New Hampshire. When they catch too much heat they’ll change the names of the web sites. There are at least a dozen scams run on Facebook with different names through ustrendygear. usgoodgear is another phishing site.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks for the update, and I’m sorry to hear you’ve been hurt by this, too. In truth I think it hurts us all, but some more than others. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  7. Sue

    Thanks for spreading the word. I saw a post about this on the Textile Arts FB group yesterday. Shining light on it is probably the best defense…still it is frustrating.

  8. snarkyquilter

    OMG, I went to the greatbuyaz website and stared in disbelief at a photo of an original quilt with a cow I believe was made by Freddy Moran, with her standing next to it! I found the photo was taken from a 2016 blog post on Dream Quilt Create. It isn’t even the blanket they advertise. And you can tell English isn’t the native tongue of the copywriter. It’s scary to think of all the quilt photos being scraped from websites and used in this way. Maybe watermarks are the only way to go on your own blog. I don’t know how to handle free floating pix taken at guild meetings, shows, etc.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Oh ga…. Horrifying. If they will use a picture WITH the artist standing next to the quilt, watermarks are not going to stop anything. sheeeez.

  9. KerryCan

    I fear this is the world we live in now. I know all kinds of design copying seems to go on on Etsy–maybe it’s an argument for less Instagram, less Facebook, less blogging with photos? I don’t like any of those ideas but . . .

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Those ideas don’t work well simply because so many artists/crafters use facebook and instagram, and blogs to a lesser degree, to market themselves and their work. If you can’t post pix, you can’t show people what cool stuff you do, and we’re back to brick and mortar stores as the only realistic outlet. Thanks for commenting, Kerry.

  10. tierneycreates

    Sigh. At least there is a campaign to make people aware. I’ve heard all sort of Etsy stories (including someone I met in person) of intellectual property theft especially coming out of Asian countries. I understand people are trying to make money but outright stealing others ideas. Now I have a friend who make me something she saw on Pinterest and figured out from the picture how to make but she is not trying to sell and make money from it.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      It’s awful, isn’t it? I think we’ve all looked at things and figured out how to make it, and there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that. But this takes it to a completely different level. ugh.

  11. Nann

    I went to two of the sites you mentioned. I hope that does not doom me to getting popup ads! First thing I noticed was a “library tote bag” using an illustration from a book that is DEFINITELY still copyright-protected. I also saw many references to “blankets” that are actually quilts. Do they photograph the item and then print it on other fabric? Ick……I suppose that trying to prosecute these sleazy scammers would be like playing whack-a-mole.

  12. lorrainelturner

    I had this happen to me and luckily, my art is recognizable and I was notified by someone. I was able to report them and have my art removed. They removed my watermark and but left my clear signature that is stitched into my art on the quilt. Apparently they claim to have products but this is just a grab a credit card and never deliver a product scam. FBI goes after internet fraud and yes, they can be shut down but then pop up again under a new name. Really just outright thieves preying on artists.

  13. Alyssa Goodnight

    I unfortunately bought two of these so called quilts from ustrendygear.com. I received only one of them and they are a rip-off. Horrible quality and terrible customer service. I still have no idea where the second one is and I’m afraid I will never see it. The fact that I paid over $100 dollars for the two of them makes me sick! The company is impossible to get ahold of and does nothing but send you automatic email reply’s when you ask about the order. I’m so frustrated and have no way of getting ahold of the company other than email and that is a joke!

  14. Kathy Howard

    Not quilts, but I have heard many reports from Spoonflower designers of having their designs ripped of and the images used on products for sale. The thieves don’t even notice if the repeat isn’t complete and the product looks terrible. The design owners go through the proper take down procedure on the legitimate selling site, only to have designs show up again under another business name.

  15. rebecca h high

    I’m getting a lot of these scam ads on facebook lately, they link to farmzily.com and another I forget, but they seem to be owned by commonpanda.com. I am making a quilt now and have been doing a lot of web searches about quilting. I knew the ads looked suspicious, and google led me to your page.

  16. Lorislea Fish

    I actually ordered two blankets from ustrendygear in July 2018. I did not receive anything at all. $105 out the window. I did use pay pal and have a dispute started, so hopefully I can get my money back. I’m afraid I was a victim of a scam. Please do not fall into the trap like I did.

  17. Cindi Lynch

    The one I keep seeing on facebook is calling itself Ecrafta. I am not a quilter, I paint watercolors. They stole my designs and are featuring them on their blankets and “quilts”. I think the fraud sites are going to be plentiful this holiday season

  18. Cindi Lynch

    Ecrafta was a thief site but they’ve already changed their name to tdcotton and also to Emacotton. Now I saw my stolen work on Chewyhub. Supzily is another, they are multiplying weekly

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I’m sorry to hear that. You may not get your money back from the company. Contact your credit card company, if that’s how you paid, for help. Paypal also has a dispute process. Good luck!

  19. Cindi Lynch

    Most of these sites are hosted by Shopify. If you report it to them the site will get closed. Yesterday they supposedly shut down Chewyhub after they stole one of my designs(I’m sure it takes several different complaints) But alas, today Geema Land is opening

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks, Cindi. I am afraid these are like a cure-resistant disease. Personally, I rarely see much of this because I don’t see many ads. But it is a blight.

    2. Laura

      I bought something from geemaland and am still waiting. No reply? Is geemaland or cottoncolor part of these companies?

  20. Lorislea Fish

    I had used PayPal when I was purchasing two “quilts”. Thankfully I had kept all correspondence. I was able to email the seller and complain about not receiving anything. Through PayPal’s system the seller had to respond I received a full refund. But, that isn’t the real problem. Whoever the seller was, seemed to be stealing photos of people’s quilts, and taking people’s orders and money without sending any goods. How many people did the seller get money from that didn’t try to get refunds? Scam scam scam. With no real repercussions.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I’m glad you got some relief on your order. Sounds like you did the smart thing in your process. But yeah, how many other people got scammed? Enough to make it worth continuing to do it. This is where I always hope that people really do reap what they sow in the long run. Bad people….

  21. Raynell Conley

    Just wanted you to know these sites are popping up all over Facebook now with like 7 new facebook pages. Advertising thousands of different quilts. Infact new pages popping up every day for the 3 days. From military pages to sports pages. Anything to get people attention 😡 I’ve been commenting to people that I believe it’s a scam for various reason. And looks like they just bought a page from spotify when you try to go to their home page to shop. They aren’t even fully set up .

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yeah, thanks for the update. I think this is like a bad infection — it will be really hard to kill it. Please continue to tell people it’s a scam. Feel free to link my post if they want more info. The comments here have much more evidence than I had when I wrote it. Thanks much.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yes, looks like a scam. I’ve seen the Geemaland source in the list of bad ones. If you are able to comment, you might point that out to people. Thanks much.

  22. Helen

    I ordered a Mickey Mouse castle quilt blanket for $59.99. It’s been almost 2 months and I have not received it. I wrote 4 emails with no response. When I put dispute in PayPal, the responded with a tracking number. It turns out, the tracking number is for another address, not mine. This is a scam and they are listing many different beautiful quilts on FB under different company names. As soon as someone calls them out, they delete the post and post it again under another company name. Don’t buy quilt blankets on FB.

      1. Cindi Lynch

        I would suggest raising a stink with Facebook. They should be liable at this point with so many ads and so much income they are getting from the scam. People need to get their money back through their payment source as well. As for the sites, most likely off shore so not much can be done there. But FB needs to remove the pages, close the ad accounts, and stop profiting from this scam.

        1. Anne-Marie

          Hello Cindi, thanks for your reply. I did report it to Facebook. I’m hoping if other people do the same, FB will review their due dilligence process before accepting any new ad account. Plus you’d think that FB is lot better equiped that us, mere mortals, to figure out if the company behind the ad account is real or bogus. It took me a few days, for them I’m sure they would only need a few clicks!

          1. Wendy

            Unfortunately, facebook is in no hurry to shut down anything that makes them money. These are paid ads, and not the first questionable paid advertising that facebook has published.

  23. Kelly

    I’m so dumb. I ordered a quilt off of one of these links. It went to a legit looking site but when the confirmation email came in it was completely different. I tried to cancel the PayPal payment but it’s still investigating. I hope I get it resolved. Ugh.
    I don’t know if I’ll get anything sent to me or if it will just be junk.

    1. Dorothy

      You are not alone – I’m dumb too. I have been house bound for 6 weeks following major surgery and doing my Christmas shopping on-line. I ordered FOUR “quilt blankets” as Christmas gifts from amelia-quilts.com. When I became suspicious, I immediately emailed the “company” to cancel my order – of course I have not received a response from them of any sort and the payment has cleared my credit card. Since then I have been googling and finding confirmation that it is indeed a scam. As of yesterday, I STILL saw their ad on FB!! I have printed my order confirmation, paypal payment receipt etc. and will be contacting my credit card company tomorrow to see whether there is anything that can be done. As for the scam part, I am in Canada and I have no idea who to report this to. There has to be someone to report fraudulent, illegal activity to!! FB does not appear to care and even if they did, all they’d do is remove the ad …. I imagine they COULD report it to the authorities, but doubt they would. It is so sad that there are such horrible dishonest people in this world. I guess it’s even sadder that some of us are so trusting and naive … not any more. Thank you for this page and having others confirm what’s happening.

  24. Wendy

    Saw a new one (with the same slat wall) on FB this morning and reported it. Everything seems to either have the same slat wall or the same shrubbery. The scammers are too lazy to even have decent backgrounds!

    1. Cindi Lynch

      The ones with the slat wall, do you think they are photoshopped? If you look at the right hand corner the “quilt” always falls the same way with the backside showing and the backside is always identical

  25. Vanessa Sampson

    Hi, I was scammed by a company called weirdo stuff, I bought a TCU “quilt” and it was the cheapest blanket I’ve ever seen. This company would not even let me return it. I am going through my credit card company to hopefully get a refund.
    This Facebook quilt scam needs to be shut down.!!! They are stealing so much money from innocent people, like me!
    I get upset every time I see another blanket posted on Facebook.
    Very frustrated!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I’m sorry, Vanessa. I can see why you’re upset. I’m also surprised they even delivered a product to you, as most people are saying that they didn’t get anything at all. It’s all too bad. Thanks for commenting.

  26. Norah McMeeking

    Hmmm. I have a FB page, wrote a couple of books and have a website. I’ve recently been getting odd messages regarding orders for quilts I never designed and for supposed payments that people have sent. All very phishy indeed.

  27. Pris Phillips

    Thanks for this important info! An update to your post… the first two links mentioned are no longer active, but the 3rd one IS active and does have several “quilt blankets” for sale, at cheap prices. One is White Cat on Bookshelf, another is a large purple elephant that they are offering for $100. I don’t know if you could even buy the materials for the elephant for that price!! Crazy!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yeah, I’m not surprised. Based on what many people have said, these links are popping up and closing down very quickly. And no, for most quilts that are lap-sized or bigger, it would be hard to buy all the materials (fabric, batting, thread, etc.) for $100. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  28. Kyla Herbst

    There are a couple other sites doing the same thing – I’m sure it’s the same people – amelia-quilt and emmacottons – the designs are all the same as on the other sites. I’m not a quilter but I had a suspicion that this was a scam and feel terrible for the artists whose designs are being stolen. The ads are everywhere all over facebook and instagram. It’s so frustrating! I’m a cat breeder and I know there are so many breeders whose pictures of their animals are being stolen and used by scammers in a similar fashion, setting up fake websites selling puppies and kittens that don’t exist and scamming people out of the money they send as a supposed deposit. Very aggravating, and it’s almost impossible to prevent dishonest people from doing these things.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Oh goodness! People will do anything to steal, won’t they? Pix of puppies and kittens, that just seems even weirder than “selling” quilts or other things that don’t exist.

  29. Sheila

    Wish I had seen this before I ordered from them! Ugh! I should have googled it before I ordered and I would have found this post. Hopefully others are finding this before ordering.

  30. Cindi Lynch

    Amelia’s Quilts shut down after complaints yesterday, today opened as Joyce Quilts…no stopping these crooks! What I have noticed is people seem to get more sucked into the scam when a woman’s name is attached. I suppose they have a vision of somebody actually quilting???

  31. Mark

    Well, I’m glad I came across your site while doing some research on ecrafta.com Unfortunately, I too fell for the scam on November 15th and I actually fell for it twice. These scammers must really be able to tap into your facebook profiles as I started getting posts about quilts with pugs on them. Upon seeing the 1 pug quilt I thought wow, my daughter would love to have it so I clicked and ordered the pug quilt with fawn colored pugs. Then as I was looking at the other quilt images they had, I noticed a quilt with black pugs that one panel looked exactly like our black pug and, without hesitation, I ordered it, figuring that I could cancel the original order. I get in my email 2 confirmations for my orders and I send an email back on the original order explaining that I found the black pug quilt that I wanted and asked if I could cancel the fawn pug one. Next morning I get a response from a Tania who said “Oh sorry, but your order was already scheduled for production”. Naïve me thinks oh well, no biggie, we’ll just have 2 pug quilts. Anyway, I just finished filing complaints to both my credit card and paypal that the payment went through. I probably just flushed $109.80 down the toilet. Saddest thing is though my daughter would have loved the black pug quilt that matches her pug.

    1. Cindi Lynch

      That’s about the time Ecrafta stole my paintings. You could look for pug items on Etsy and maybe find something nice for your daughter. At least it wouldn’t be stolen and you’d actually receive something. Shortly thereafter Ecrafta morphed into Emacotton and on and on it goes 😦

  32. Karen

    I am leery about sites like this and will use PayPal for a payment over providing my credit card information. There’s that extra layer of protection and PayPal is easier to work with on disputes than some card companies. I do like to give companies an chance and was curious what the order would produce. After 3 weeks, I got a response that the quilt was sent out for production. After a month of no further responses, I filed the dispute. PayPal needed to contact the seller for a response, the account is for some group in China, not Riley and Layla Gibson. Within a week, PayPal responded that they have ruled in my favor and reversed the entire transaction. They said they had received a response from the seller, which might mean a refund will not happen. However, there was no request from PayPal on my end to produce proof I made a diligent effort of contact, they processed the refund. My guess is that I am not the first person to encounter a problem, clearly. Two days later, I get an email with poor grammar stating that my order has been shipped and later that day, I got a tracking confirmation. I don’t take risks like this regularly, but I truly was curious because I know what goes into piecing a quilt. The saying “Sounds too good to be true” rings loud and honest with this group. I have since done further digging and should have done so in the first place as I would never had tried out placing an order. There are little things I have learned over the years about websites and sellers to see if they are legit. One is the listing of an actual phone #, an address that can be mapped, a valid email address. Posting photos that look “real”, stock photos are easy to spot if you are familiar with them. Names, awards, description of the area. These are also things that should catch attention on a website. Surprisingly, I found this all on Emma Cotton/ECrafta/EmaCotton. However, further checking is where it starts to get a little weird. If the address is searched on Google Maps, it is in Mississippi, but there is no farm shown, just thick brush and a truck stop across the street. The original email listed on the website had bounced back to me in a message. The biggest flag was the PayPal seller account that is listed in China. Before completing the purchase, I should have clicked on the link to the seller’s website and would have seen that it was NOT to a family humbly farming cotton and tomatoes in Mississippi. My previous mention of the poor grammar is not a hit on farming people or lack of education. With the two email responses to the 1/2 dozen I sent, the grammar was inconsistent like it was translated. If you are familiar with another language, run a phrase through Google Translate, you will see that the words are correct, but the grammar usage is off and would make you sound confusing if spoken to someone fluent in that language. By this, I believe the email messages are translated into some Chinese dialect and then translated back into English.

    I’m writing this long message not to complain or whine about my situation, I understood the risks and have it resolved on my own. However, I hope this info is helpful for people to use that it doesn’t take a stealthy internet user to look for flags like this to catch your attention and make you question the legitimacy of a company.

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