A tale of recasting allegations

By tgn_admin
In Editorial
Dec 4th, 2010
22 Comments
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Editorial

There are probably not many accusations that can damage a miniature company as much as being accused of recasting another companies products. This accusation was recently levelled at Impact! Miniatures by Italian miniature producer Gaspez Arts. Well not exactly. Fabio Gasparini from Gaspez Arts posted an allegation of wrong-doing on their website, on December 1st, without specifically naming the company (this allegation has subsequently been removed).

Hi everybody! I am Fabio Gasparini from Gaspez-Arts. Unfortunately with great regret I discovered that an American firm with whom I collaborated and with whom I have no more business relations from July 2010 still sells on its site my products but not original, copied and of scarce quality, with damage of affectionate customers of my miniatures, who receive a product really much more inferior respect to the Gaspez-arts standards. If someone has the suspect to have bought a clonated (sic) miniature can send it with a copy of the invoice or of the purchase receipt to Gaspez-arts, who will free substitute what purchased and will add two single miniatures (limited edition excluded) FREE choiced (sic) by the customer.


While Fabio didn’t specifically name the company it was clear to almost everyone who read it that he was referring to Impact! Miniatures. Impact! was the companies only American distributor and most people in the Fantasy Football community who saw the allegation assumed it was directed at Impact!. It couldn’t be any other company and yet Gaspez wasn’t naming them directly. Nor was Gaspez offering any proof of recasting. One could also read their message and think that Gaspez was soliciting evidence of recasting from their customers. But if Gaspez didn’t have any proof why were they accusing Impact! of wrongdoing.

Then an odd thing happened. The same accusation was then sent to people who were subscribed to the RollJordan Miniatures mailing list. RollJordan also creates and sells figures for the Fantasy Football market and recently had been producing figures with Impact!. It was this email that alerted Tom Anders at Impact! Miniatures to the problem. An Impact! customer received the email, assumed that it referred to Impact!, and sent the allegation to Tom. To say that he was surprised by this is probably an understatement. Not only had he not received any emails or phone calls from Fabio or anyone at Gaspez Arts accusing him of improper behaviour but he was still selling his stock of Gaspez figures and had plans to purchase more. Even more bewildering for Tom was why RollJordan would apparently be participating in this.

The next day Tom posted to the TalkFantasyFootball forum to address this accusation doing so on the assumption that his company was the target of them. Sadly he was unable to get confirmation of this from anyone at Gaspez Arts and acted under the assumption that Fabio was accusing him of recasting. Tom’s response was fairly simple. They weren’t recasting. Gaspez hadn’t received any orders from them because they changed their terms and increased their minimum order. They were, in fact, selling the remaining stock at a discount to raise funds for a new order. Tom Anders then later posted a photo of some of their existing stock in its original Gaspez packaging.

A very quick search of the Impact! forum can find topics mentioning the change in terms and also responding to customers asking about the stock of certain Gaspez figures. It is clear from their forums that Impact! was aware of the low stock levels of Gaspez figures and were addressing customer comments by promising to look at a way to be able to bring the figures in. And, more to the point, if Impact! was recasting then why would they be telling customers that they were out of stock? Especially out of stock of high priced, high demand items?

According to Impact!, Tom and his partners had decided to forgo selling individual figures and stock Gapsez’s miniatures only as teams. The discount on the stock in hand was an attempt to clear those figures out to build the capital to meet the new minimum order level that Gaspez had set earlier in the year. This was all information that Fabio and the staff at Gaspez Arts could have found out themselves if they had contacted Tom or one of his partners. No-one did before they posted their accusations.

RollJordan’s official representative on the TalkFantasyFootball forum, Christian Kirylo, responded to Tom’s post by saying that their mailing list had been hacked. Further comments, which have since been redacted but which have been saved, more firmly reiterated this defence and went on to support Gaspez by repeating their accusations.

1) RJ mailing list was hacked and sent out a notice that was already pubblic on Gaspez website. There is no involvment of RJ in this matter other then email sending out something that was already available to the pubblic. If it wasn’t this email, I am sure that someone would had find this out soon and emailed Impact or poted it on the forum. So yes I am sorry for the mass email (not ours) but that is it. As for what the email said that is of pubblic domain and has nothing to do with RJ, nor RJ is involved. Hope this brings us out of the matter. We are investigating and seems now at 99% that our admin pswd was hacked using a keylogger or similar. Once we will collect all evidence we will turn in all the data to the competent authority locally and will let them deal with it. We will file a claim for someone hacking our site that is it, since no company name is mentioned in the email there nothing else we can persecute according to our legal advisor. That said hope we are out of this.

2) What is on Gaspez site doesn’t say it is Impact so nothing we can start talking here either. I believe this matter should be solved between Gaspez and who feels this has hurted them.

3) The bad part here is what Gaspez wrote…. doesn’t matter if it is Impact, RJ, Cominox or who ever. The problem is that cloning of figures from such small companies will probably force some of them to close. This is such a small market and revenues are so small that any unsold team will hurt. And knowing Fabio if he wrote this he has collected evidence of the facts. So this is a reality not a supposition.

Christian’s comments specifically mention the site being hacked, a keylogger being used and repeated Fabio’s allegations and made reference to evidence that hadn’t been posted or referred to by Gaspez in their initial post. The only problem is that some enterprising TalkFantasyFootball members read through the headers of the supposedly fake message and authentic message and found that they came from the same IP number. The site appeared not to have been hacked and the messages both appear to have come from the same source.

There were other problems with Christian’s comment. Why would someone hack their website to post a comment publicly available on the Gaspez website? Surely if someone was going to go to the effort to put a keylogger on a machine to gain admin access to their server they might do something more common like send out spam for Erectile Dysfunction pills or fake Rolex watches. Christian mentions that they were collecting evidence but none of it was posted and he also made reference to Fabio having evidence that even Fabio doesn’t seem to want to publish. Christian also attempted to reinforce the accusations as well again without naming anyone specifically.

This was Christian’s last comment on the subject though. RollJordan owner Lorenzo Giusti quickly stepped in to attempt to take control of the mess that was quickly developing. He appears to have striped Christian of his duties are spokesman for RollJordan and then had Christian’s comments about keyloggers and hacking attempts removed from the forum. Lorenzo then started to deny that their site had been hacked. Instead of attempting to clear the air and explain how RollJordan’s mailing list was used to repeat accusations of recasting Lorenzo attempted to stop any public discussion of the matter. Questions directed to him and Christian on the forum were left unanswered.

Since this article was initially published Lorenzo has answered several of the questions via email. Christian is no longer employed by RollJordan but the timing of his release from the company hasn’t been confirmed. Lorenzo became aware of the mailing list incident after everything had transpired, the original email, the posts to TalkFantasyFootball and Christian’s initial comments about the mail server being hacked. Lorenzo received a phone call about the posts being made and quickly moved to stop any further posts from Christian. Sadly it appears that Lorenzo wasn’t alerted to the issue until well after the messages were sent and the damage was done.

When asked Lorenzo confirmed that Christian was the source of the emails but is unsure of, or unwilling to speculate, about the reason for Christian doing so. A series of actions that Lorenzo described as “senseless”. Not that his reasons for doing so appear to make much difference to Lorenzo and not that Christian’s reasons make any difference to the public reaction to what happened.

Christian also sent an email to the RollJordan mailing list explaining the situation. This also appears to have been sent without any input from, or approval of, Lorenzo.

I need to apologize with every who got an email from us concerning the Gaspez post. We are still investigating how this happen, this is the last mass email we will send out until we can verify if we got hacked or not. Up to date we only know that the email says it was sent from my email, but not everyone in our list received it, making us believe they targeted only a fraction of our subscribers/customers using a self generated list of emails of possible targets. This is why I am shutting down our email capability on our site until we can be sure everything is ok from our end.

As for the Gaspez comment this is on Gaspez main page, visible and available to anyone, the notice was not generated by Rolljordan and nor Rolljordan is involved in such statement. Also no where is stated that such company is Impact nor I ever said that it is Impact. This assumption was made by other people after reading the email or Gaspez post. Any questions in this matter should be sent to Gaspez not us.

As said for the last time, what was sent out is a public post made from Gaspez on his site, not hidden and fully available to the general public. This said for updates visit our site on a regular base since we do not know when the mailing list will be made available again. For any questions or comments in this matter I am here to reply personally.

Later comments on the TalkFantasyFootball forum seem to indicate that the original “recasting” email was sent to a RollJordan email list that was set up for news announcements and that the other emails were sent via the RollJordan online store’s newsletter feature.

Rumours quickly propagated that Christian has been fired. This was not confirmed or denied initially but it has since been mentioned that Christian is not with RollJordan any longer. More rumours circulated that Christian and Fabio collaborated to post Fabio’s accusations via the RollJordan mailing list and that Christian fabricated stories about the site being hacked to cover this up.

Curiously silent in all of this was Fabio Gasparini from Gaspez-Arts. When contacted via email he would only say that he is under legal advice to not comment. This despite his website still displaying his allegations at the time. He didn’t respond to the thread on the TalkFantasyFootball forum and he was oddly reticent to engage in a discussion with Tom from Impact! Miniatures. When Tom asked for the accusation to be removed Fabio responded by demanding a return of all of the Gaspez stock that Impact! had. Oddly he asked for his stock back but not that they refrain from recasting. In a further email he expressed surprise that Impact! still have stock from their July 2010 order and again requests the return of his figures from Impact!.

At no point in his discussion with Tom Anders of Impact! does Fabio address the issue of recasting. Despite being asked several times he refuses to remove the allegations from his website and it isn’t until after Impact! agreed to sell back their remaining stock of figures that Fabio removed the comments. Two full days after they were initially posted.

As the situation currently stands Gaspez Arts have removed the accusations from their website. But Fabio has neither attempted to explain himself privately or publicly and has not offered any sort of apology to Impact! Miniatures. If, as people assume, that Impact! was the target of these comment he has also not denied or confirmed that either. . Both Fabio has been asked questions and asked for comments on this matter and as of this date has not responded.

There are quite a few unanswered questions. Why did Fabio make these allegations and do so, apparently, without any evidence? If he does have evidence why hasn’t he presented it? If the company in question is not Impact! Miniatures then why hasn’t he confirmed this? Why was Christian at RollJordan willing to help spread these accusations?

It appears that none of these are going to get answered because the parties with the answers are refusing to comment. At least publicly. Despite removing the original allegations from his website he still isn’t doing anything publicly or privately to clear up the issue. And despite removing it from his site the accusation is still visible, as of Friday December 3rd, on Google when you search for Gaspez Arts. As is the name and links to Impact! Miniatures who are the only North American reseller of their figures listed in the search results.

Lorenzo from RollJordan is also left in a difficult situation of having to clean up a mess and damage to his reputation from someone who is now no longer a part of the company.

Also left unanswered is Tom Anders’ question about this entire incident. Can a company like Gaspez accuse another company of recasting without proof, remove the accusations and walk away without further comment? Does Fabio get away with this type of activity without any repercussions?

Sadly the answer might be yes. Gaspez Arts is an Italian company and Impact! Miniatures don’t appear to have the resources, or the inclination, to sue a foreign firm. Without a retraction there will still be people that only see part of the online discussion or perhaps only ever saw Fabio’s allegations. For those people there may be a permanent scarring of their opinion of Impact! Miniatures.

There really appear to be no winners in this incident. An incident that could easily, it appears, have been avoided by an email or phone call.

Update Sunday December 5th: Lorenzo from RollJordan has emailed me to say that he will be sending along answers to the questions I sent.

Update Tuesday December 7th: The article has been updated with comments from Lorenzo at RollJordan.