Imposter dupes agencies for free pairs of footwear

SAN FRANCISCO: A warning to PR pros tempted to give away product from your client’s inventory to score some juicy editorial coverage: a well-shod scam artist is on the prowl right now posing as a scribe on assignment to review men’s shoes.

SAN FRANCISCO: A warning to PR pros tempted to give away product from your client’s inventory to score some juicy editorial coverage: a well-shod scam artist is on the prowl right now posing as a scribe on assignment to review men’s shoes.

SAN FRANCISCO: A warning to PR pros tempted to give away product

from your client’s inventory to score some juicy editorial coverage: a

well-shod scam artist is on the prowl right now posing as a scribe on

assignment to review men’s shoes.



In this new twist on an old tale - which usually involves so-called

travel writers trolling for free trips to exotic locations - a man

calling himself ’Jon Keats’ has contacted at least two PR firms

requesting samples of pricey footwear to review for Men’s Health

magazine.



But after shipping Keats about dollars 1,000 worth of merchandise from

its shoe manufacturer client, one of these agencies recently found

itself barefoot in the cold.



’We gladly sent him 10 pairs of Bison leather shoes and were naturally

excited about the story,’ said a representative from the agency, who

spoke on condition of anonymity - probably because his client had to

absorb the cost of the lost footwear.



Later, when the pro contacted Keats to see ’where that story was,’ he

was told the writer had moved to San Francisco with no forwarding

number.



And Men’s Health style editor Warren Christopher later told the same pro

that he had never heard of Keats. Christopher had, however, heard from

another well-known shoe company that had been duped by a similar

scam.



One pro has little sympathy for the firms involved. ’This sounds like a

rookie mistake to me,’ said Michael Nyman of Bragman Nyman Cafarelli, a

Los Angeles agency that has handled PR for such fashion companies as

Levi Strauss & Company. ’It was probably a phony name and a fake

address, too.’



Nyman said his firm generally avoids such scams by requiring freelancers

to provide written proof of an assignment from the publication’s editor

before releasing valuable goods.



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