Spring is in the air, and it's almost time for outdoor events. In our region, there is no shortage of vendor markets, themed events, and festivals. There's also a darker side. It's 2024, and there's a scam for everything, and local events are no exception.

Most of the time, these scams are perpetrated online using social media. The scammers either create a new account, or clone someone else's for their nefarious acts. Then, posts are created to lure in vendors, food trucks, and entertainers. An example of such a post is below, as seen in the Crafters and vendors of Delaware County NY Facebook group.

Crafters and vendors of Delaware County NY via Facebook
Crafters and vendors of Delaware County NY via Facebook
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There are many problematic elements to this post. First and foremost, there is no Community Wellness & Art Festival planned for that day. The address traces back to the Southside Mall in Oneonta. None of what is listed is being offered on that day. When searched, this profile is completely empty, with just a profile picture that was most likely stolen. In their own post, the mall confirmed that this is a scam.

This post is just the tip of the iceberg. Just yesterday, the Otsego County Steampunk + Oddities Expo warned of an entity calling themselves "Events by Grace" was trying to tap their vendors, posing as lead for the event.

There are a few red flags that give scammers away. Many times, scammers will post poorly designed flyers with no location information. See an example below. When asked what the location of the event is, they will respond looking for your location. They will not send an invoice, preventing a paper trail, and will many times ask for payment via wire transfers, cryptocurrency, and even PayPal.

Crafters and vendors of Delaware County NY via Facebook
Crafters and vendors of Delaware County NY via Facebook
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Event scammers will make big promises that sound too good to be true, and will never be followed up on, assuring vendors they'll make oodles of money. Legitimate events will be transparent to a fault. Scammers will pressure you to act quickly and swear up and down that they're giving you one of their last vending spots. They may also ask for personal information so they can steal your identity.

Linda Lutz, creator of the Crafters and vendors of Delaware County NY group said: "I actually started the group Crafters and Vendors of Delaware County because I wasn’t seeing events until after they already happened or it was too late to apply. Shortly after starting the group, I noticed that there were quite a few scammers and a lot of vendors were losing money via PayPal. So I advise for Delaware County in particular not to ever pay anything with PayPal. I started vetting all of the events in Delaware County where vendors would be setting up. I found that the group is actually kind of a magnet for the scammers thinking they can scam us. I’ve been able to weed out several of them just because they’ve attempted to join or post something I know that isn’t right. Through the group, we informed contacts and venues. I found it beneficial to have all the people in the group working together. As I always say to everybody when I meet them in Delaware County, we stick together. I’m actually proud of what we’ve accomplished in a short amount of time as a group. And as you know, we’re not just Delaware County because our Crafters and Vendors do go other places. and people from other counties come to our county and we welcome everyone."

Being cautious and aware is your best defense against being scammed. Do research, vet the promoters, get references, and always trust your gut! Our area's vendor market is small and concentrated. Just about everyone knows everyone. Utilize those connections and stay vigilant!

Oneonta and Otsego County Barbecue Trail

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