Wildcrafted Wool: How I Narrowly Averted E-Commerce Fraud

wildcraftedwoolhemp_bag_largeThis is a guest blog by LOCO Member Wildcrafted Wool

To those members conducting business on the Internet, this is for you!  As a maker/artist, I was recently targeted by fraudsters through my website’s online store. I know this happens all the time and that’s why it’s important I tell you about it.

It all begins over a month ago when I was approached by a potential customer calling him/herself by the name “Hannes Arne” of “sweetbodystore@hotmail.com” and claiming to live in a rural town in Holland. She messaged me through the contact form on my website asking if I ship internationally to Europe. We begin an email exchange. She claimed she owned a small boutique and wanted to buy my “lovely” products for her store. Her emails were professional sounding and believable.

Little did I know, Shopify (my e-commerce web host) had blocked her credit card after multiple failed attempts but did not alert me. The fraudster therefore manages to place his/her order using a second credit card. Both cards are likely stolen.

“Hannes” requested I ship through a third party shipper that she uses for her North American orders that will deliver directly to her door. This is a lot easier for her since there is limited mail delivery. I thought it was strange that there was no website for her shipper and just this sketchy Facebook page. And so I got suspicious…

I quickly realize this is a common fraud scheme and cancel and refund the order.  Thank goodness!! Otherwise, I would have been responsible for the amount charged in full when the rightful cardholder disputed the funds.

And then the plot thickens. The very next day I’m getting calls on my private cell phone that is NOT published publicly. The numbers are always different and they leave voice mail asking to speak with me immediately about my website. I realize the numbers aren’t in service so I can’t phone them back. I’ll never know how these fraudsters got my personal information. Pretty frightening. And I think it’s a little more than coincidental that I got these calls the day after I cancelled a fraudulent order…

And finally, how do these fraudsters make their money? Well, the shipping company is fake and so that “shipping” money goes straight to their hidden pockets. So hidden that law enforcement claims they can’t do anything.

And that’s why I’ve devised a sleuthy anti-fraud checklist for all online orders. Check it out:

  • Call the number on the order and make sure that it actually exists. Also, check if the area code matches their location
  • Verify that the billing and shipping addresses match
  • Use a search engine to look up the email address and look for hits containing reported fraud
  • Verify the customer’s IP address and ensure it matches where they say they’re from
  • Pay special attention to high value orders
  • Verify the shipping company is a legit company or don’t use third party shippers you haven’t heard of before
  • Find out what risk analysis and anti-fraud tools your web host provides. Ensure you have notifications turned on

I hope my story spreads awareness and prevention when it comes to extortion fraud and E-commerce. The more we know, the less they’ll be able to extort and therefore the less viable it is for them. However, it’s important to not become overly cautious and suspicious! While web hosts and e-commerce platforms have security and risk analysis in place, I realized pretty quickly that when things go wrong it’s “blame the seller”. We have to verify who we’re really doing business with at the end of the day and for now, I’m sticking to craft fairs and local boutiques for the majority of my revenue.

Dalia, Owner/Artisan





New LOCO Business Clinic Advisors: Focus on Carla Shore

Carla Shore works with C-Shore Communications, helping small to medium-sized business with communications and public relations. Carla is an award-winning, senior public relations strategist with talent for planning, coordinating and executing successful communications campaigns. Her ability to manage issues and plan for crises is matched by her skill in training clients on how to deal with media. Carla’s extensive portfolio has been built over 20 years, and includes news releases, newsletters, brochures, backgrounders, flyers, Websites, annual reports and news articles. She has provided PR support for LOCO’s #BCBuyLocal campaign for Buy Local Week 2014, and worked with LOCO members Vancouver Farmer’s Markets, Tacofino and others. Find out more about Carla on her LinkedIn profile.

1. What are your areas of expertise?
I help organizations with communications issues, including public relations, communications strategy and planning, media relations, spokesperson media training, plain language writing, issues management, corporate social responsibility and messaging for marketing, social media and communications campaigns.

2. What type of clients do you typically work with?
I’ve worked with non profit organizations, corporate clients, government departments and agencies, health organizations, and in just about every industry possible. I work with social entrepreneurs, start ups, large companies, and with many public institutions like school districts, libraries, health authorities, regulatory bodies, etc.

3. What are the business challenges you most often help  your clients solve/address?
In short, I help businesses work out what they want to say, who they want to say it to, and what they want to happen once they’ve said it. Then I help them work out which tools are the best ones to get those messages delivered.

4. How do you help?
I bring an outside perspective to the business, to show them what their messaging looks like to someone not in their inner circle. I help clarify their communications objectives and goals, their key messages, help define their target audiences, and help them understand which communications methods and tools will yield which results.

5. How can you help a business in a 1-hour business clinic session?
As a first step, I can help a business understand what their communications needs might be, what they could be doing differently, how to clarify their messaging, and what next steps would help them achieve their communications objectives. I can also help develop their messaging into plain language to ensure they are being heard by the right audiences.

New LOCO Business Clinic Advisors: Focus on Hillary Samson

Hillary Samson works with Samson Consulting, helping small to medium-sized business with their business planning and operational efficiency. Hillary works with clients to help them analyze and increase the health of their business through business plan writing, capacity planning, implementing policies and procedures, improving internal processes such as product development and project management, and establishing effective reporting. She has worked with LOCO members Boldt Communications Inc.Mala CollectiveTradeworks, Raised Eyebrow, Talk Science to Me, Lunapads and others. Hilary’s e-commerce experience was honed at her many years at Abesbooks.com (a division of Amazon). Find out more about Hillary on her LinkedIn profile.

1. What are your areas of expertise?
I offer support for operations to small and medium-sized values-based businesses, not-for-profits and social enterprises including:  tailored process and procedures, systems implementation, capacity planning, project and product management, operational growth planning, and reporting. I work with leaders in all industries, although I have a specialization in e-commerce operations.

2. What type of clients do you typically work with?
I work with values-based entrepreneurs and social enterprise leaders who are at some stage of change or growth in their organization, or are experiencing recurring issues in operations. (A sure sign a system is faltering!).

3. What are the business challenges you most often help  your clients solve/address?
When the organization is going through some sort of change, often growth, and the current way that they run their business isn’t working any more. It isn’t as effective or efficient as it used to be, or as they feel it could be. This could show up as: low margins; communication problems with staff, contractors and customers; a lack of understanding of the current health of the business; and/or lack of clarity on where the business or enterprise is heading and what the best next step is. I help identify systems that are not scalable and guide the leader to know how to gather information so that they can make better decisions moving forward.

4. How do you help?
I help clients with anything systems-based or internal facing (how the business is run). With my regular clients I almost always start with helping them create or refine their projections so that we can have a realistic understanding of how the money is coming in and going out.

I also analyze a business’ capacity, making sure that the team (or solopreneur) is focusing mostly on their high-value tasks, seeing where there is room for growth, or understanding where the capacity needs to change to accommodate growth and/or reduce costs.

I conduct operational audits to evaluate the business’ current processes, procedures, policies and systems, make recommendations for change as needed, and help with creation/implementation of new procedures or systems. Crafting or improving regular reporting is key so that we can continue to understand the health of the business and how any changes are working.

5. How can you help a business in a 1-hour business clinic session?
The best way I can help is if the business leader has a specific problem about how their business operates – what area of the business isn’t working well, what is causing recurring problems, what is keeping them up at night about how their business is running. I also help with what is the next step of operational growth: should I hire staff or contractors?; do I have the capacity to launch a new product or service?; as the business leader, where should I focus my time and what do I need to know so that the business can grow?

Bringing a recent income statement (P&L) to the session is particularly helpful.

New LOCO Business Clinic Advisors: Focus on Jonathan Vroom

Jonathan Vroom is a lawyer with Paperclip Law. Paperclip Law is a boutique firm for practical business and personal legal advice and solutions. They are a firm that believes in keeping it simple. Dedicated to providing clients with attentive, adaptable and approachable support, whether they need help with business and trademarks, real estate, or estate planning and estate administration. Jonathan’s experience spans business, real estate and estate planning. Paperclip Law works with LOCO members Mills BasicsDehoney Financial Group and others. Find out more about Jonathan here.

1. What are your areas of expertise?

Small business law and real estate including commercial real estate and estate planning. One of the areas of focus for Paperclip Law is food sector businesses.

2. What type of clients do you typically work with?

New or existing business owners that require assistance with either starting up a business or in the day to day operations of a business.

3. What are the business challenges you most often help  your clients solve/address?

Any legal assistance they require for the operation of their business. For example, drafting and reviewing contracts, incorporating, setting up companies, buying and selling companies, financing and investment.

4. How do you help?

I provide in-depth, yet straight forward advice on how to solve their legal issues.

5. How can you help a business in a 1-hour business clinic session?

The 1 hour business clinic session can be used for us to review their legal challenges and advise them on how to address those issues. We can either advise them on the spot on how to proceed, or refer them to a lawyer who specializes in that area of law.

New LOCO Business Clinic Advisors: Focus on Khalid Amlani

Khalid Amlani is a Chartered Accountant with Akeroyd Leung Amlani (ALA). ALA provides accounting services, tax planning & compliance, and advisory services to help clients make informed decisions on everything from incorporation to financial planning. Khalid has over 10 years of experience helping his clients make sense of their numbers by providing tax, accounting and strategic business advice. Khalid has worked with LOCO members Momentum Venture Partners, Ello and Miller Titerle and others. Find out more about Khalid here.

1. What are your areas of expertise?

Our firm’s focus is on providing tax, accounting, assurance and financial consulting to a wide range of businesses from start-up companies to mid-size companies. We strive to understand the clients short and long term goals and work with them to provide accounting and tax solutions tailored to their needs. Typically, this can include tax compliance, estate planning and financial reporting.

2. What type of clients do you typically work with?

We have years of working with businesses of all different sizes and industries. We have established our selves as a “go-to” firm for start-up and owner-managed companies that want to make sure that they are well positioned for growth. We also have a focus on professional practices in the medical field including doctors, dentists and other medical practitioners. Each client is different, and we provide custom tax and accounting advice that our clients require.

3. What are the business challenges you most often help  your clients solve/address?

We help our clients with any business challenge that may have a financial impact. Most often we are dealing with growing companies. As they grow, taxes become an important issue, so we work to manage all their tax filings and provide tax planning strategies to minimize their tax burden. Another challenge that faces growing companies is although revenue and net income may be increasing, cash flow never seems to keep up. We provide clarity surrounding the working capital life cycle and recommend solutions to increase cash flow.

4. How do you help?

Business owners have a lot of things to worry about – we try to make taxes and accounting NOT one of those things.  We handle their annual tax compliance needs and help them plan for the future.

5. How can you help a business in a 1-hour business clinic session?

The 1 hour business clinic session can be used for us to gain an understanding of you and your business and provide some recommendations on tax/accounting issues that need urgent attention and others that you should keep in your mind as you grow.



The We ♥ Local Awards are back!

Nominate your favourite local grower, producer or business (this could be you!) in one of 15 categories for a chance to win a weekly prize or the grand prize!

The We ♥ Local Awards invites people across BC to nominate their favourites in the following 15 delicious categories (find your favourite LOCO members for each one):

  • Favourite Farmers’ Market
  • Favourite Store to Buy Local
  • Favourite Local Meat or Poultry Supplier
  • Favourite Local Seafood Supplier
  • Favourite Local Cheese Maker
  • Favourite Local Sweet Treat
  • Favourite Local Advocate (you’re chance to give us at plug at LOCO BC!)
  • Favourite Local Winery
  • Favourite Local Brewery
  • Favourite Local Food Truck
  • Favourite Local U-Pick Farm
  • Favourite Local Orchard/Fruit Supplier
  • Favourite Local Restaurant or Chef
  • Favourite Local Florist or Nursery
  • Favourite Local Greenhouse or Veggie Grower

WHLAwardsHow the 2015 We ♥ Local Awards works:

NOMINATIONS: Nominations are open August 17th – September 6th, 2015. Anyone living in BC can nominate one or more favourites in the categories listed above by visiting: www.weheartlocalawards.ca

VOTING: Voting is open September 7th – September 12th, 2015, followed by a Shortlist Sprint on September 13th and 14th, 2015. Anyone living in BC can vote for their favourite nominees in the categories listed above by visiting: www.weheartlocalawards.ca

PRIZES: Nominating and voting for your local BC favourites automatically enters you in weekly draw to win a $100 gift card to your local VQA store. You will also be entered in the Grand Prize draw for a luxurious three-night stay at Taku Resort and Marina, along with your choice of a cooking course for two, valued at $2100. This prize includes a $300 gift card from BC Ferries to cover the cost of transportation. The Grand Prize winner will be drawn on September 15th, 2015.


LOCO Online Shopping Research – Business Survey

LOCO Launches New Research on the Impact of Online Shopping on Canadian Retailers

LOCO has just begun a new research project into the impact of online shopping on local business.

Online shopping represents a large and increasing part of the Canadian economy. However, many of the dollars spent leak out of our economy to US Corporations.A 2013 report produced for Vancity reported that two out of every three dollars spent online by Canadians go to US retail websites.

Canada Post and Tenzing recently reported that:

  • The average Canadian currently spends $1210 online annually.
  • In 2014, the value of online shopping in Canada was $22 billion dollars.
  • Online shopping is expected to double between 2014 and 2019, increasing to a value of more than $40 billion dollars.

Please help us complete our research to assess the impact of these trends on local business.

If you own a retail business, please take our business survey. The survey takes approximately 5-10 minutes. Survey closes October 31st, 2015.

If you’re a consumer (and we all are), please take our consumer survey. The survey takes approximately 5-10 minutes. Survey closes October 31st, 2015.

Also, please help spread the word – send the url for this page to friends and business owners. Contact us for more info.

Saul Good Gift Co.




Fill in either of our surveys for a chance to win a gourmet local food gift box from Saul Good Gift Co. worth $300!


LOCO Online Shopping Research – Consumer Survey

Equity Crowd Funding Summary

On June 25, 2015, Spring Activator hosted an information event on Canada’s new equity crowd funding rules. Bonnie Foley-Wong, Co-Founder of Spring Activator and Founder, Pique Venture Investments, moderated the event. The panel consisted of:

  • Praveen Varshney, Director, Varshney Capital Corp.
  • Peter Paul van Hoeken, Founder & CEO, FrontFundr
  • Lindsay Clark, Associate Lawyer, Larbarge Weinstein
  • John Keserich, Partner, BDO Canada Accounting

Event-sponsor Vancity introduced the evening, highlighting how Vancity is interested in helping their members find options for equity financing since they do mostly do debt financing.

Crowd funding in Canada has hit $35M in investment, outstripping angel investment. It is expected to outstrip Venture Capital investment in 2016.

What Are They Rules Around Raising Equity Through Crowd Funding?

Lindsay commented that:

  • New equity crowd funding exemption allows companies to raise money from residents of B.C. providing individuals invest no more than $1500 per offering, the company uses an online funding portal, and the maximum raised is $250K per offering with a maximum of twice per year (max $500K/year).
  • The exemption is available to any size and stage of privately owned company even though it’s called the start-up exemption. You can’t be a public company, and you can’t have raised money in the past under a prospectus.
  • The company must be incorporated.
  • Once your business reaches 50 shareholders, it has more obligations to its investors, and it loses the option to raise capital the second time within the year.
  • Unless you get a waiver from each investor saying they don’t want audited financial statements, you’ll need to produce them.

John listed the info required by the new Start-up Crowdfunding Exemption offering document:

  • Risk of Investment
  • Business Overview
  • List of Management and Directors
  • Date Securities are Acquired and the Value of the Security
  • Track record of fraud, bankruptcies
  • Activity in startup crowd funding
  • Terms and conditions of the securities
  • Financial statements
  • Use of funds w/i the company
  • Compensation given to the funding portal
  • Risk factors in the business
  • Resale restrictions

Are There Any Concerns Businesses Should Worry About?

Find The Right Investors

Praveen cautions that when businesses raise money, they should still be trying to hand select investors. It’s not easy money – when businesses take money from someone else, they might hear that their fiduciary duty to treat is as well as their own money. He suggests that businesses should go beyond treating the money like it’s their own, they should treat it better than your own. Essentially you’re starting to operate like a small public company. The up side is that your investors will start to promote you and want you to succeed, the down side is that they’ll start to look for dividends and involvement in how the company operates.

When he’s fundraising, he’s often looking for a lead investor. If there’s a well known person that invests, many other investors will follow and trust that it’s a good investment because they’ll know that the lead investor has done their homework on the company so they don’t need to do so much due diligence. This also helps set a share price since something is only worth what someone is willing to pay. If you can find a lead investor, you’ll find out what they are willing to pay and then you have a valuation and some momentum before you do your offer.

On FrontFundr, investors can see who other investors are if they opt in to have their name displayed. If there is already an accredited lead investor who invests outside the $1500 maximum – like for $50K or $100K, then it’s easier to trust that someone has done the due diligence and take a good look at that company.

Since the new crowdfunding rules are different in each province, businesses need to make sure their investors are in the right province. As a business, you need to make sure all your investors fall under the crowdfunding exemptions (Ontario has no exemption yet), so it’s easiest to attract investment from B.C. unless the business wants to understand the difference in each province’s rules.

Attracting investment through crowdfunding can have its drawbacks. Having many small investors has the potential to scare off larger investors. There are several ways to limit the rights of those smaller investors that calm larger investors – for instance, issuing preferred shares with a redemption right, or issuing non-voting shares. However these make the offer less attractive to potential investors.

Investor Involvement

One issue businesses don’t anticipate is investor involvement. Lindsay encourages businesses to think about the structure for involving investors before any investment offering, as well as costs to maintain that structure. Think about how to structure governance to include investor input efficiently.


On the old crowdfunding platforms, John encourages businesses to pay attention tax issues. If companies trad perks and product/services for money on a crowdfunding platform, they often don’t budget paying the tax in the province where it is shipped. When a $1K cheque comes in, the business often thinks the full amount is theirs. If the product gets shipped to BC, the business needs to submit $12 to the province. If the product gets shipped to the US, it’s more complicated, as state tax, county tax and others may apply.

How Do Businesses Prepare for Equity Crowd Funding?


John commented on the need for having corporate governance in place. Entrepreneurs struggle when they bring in outside investors and then continue to run the company as they used to. He encourages businesses to figure out in advance how they want to structure governance and investor involvement.


Businesses will need to use an online platform for an equity offer. FrontFundr has some of the first offers. But a business can’t just post an offer without preparation. It doesn’t look good to be on a platform and not have any activity. A business should make sure that there will be activity once they have an offer, so they should be working on advertising the offer and building potential investment before their offer is listed. FrontFundr also has a sector lounge, where they suggest businesses put potential offers before they go live to assess interest, potentially help set the price, and allow FrontFundr to complete the due diligence on the project.


  1. Platforms costs

The FrontFundr platform cost is two-pronged:

  • 2% fee for getting a business ready, and helping them get their documentation together.
  • 4% fee on all new investment. Fees are not charged when the business brings the investors to the platform themselves. (For reference, fees in the US, UK, and the Netherlands are approximately 5-7.5%.).
  1. Filing requirements, accounting and legal work. A rough ballpark estimate is $5-10K depending on the type of investment. Costs depend on how much input the business needs from advisors. The more the business does themselves, the more costs can be reduced. All documents should be reviewed by a lawyer but Lindsay encourages businesses to get a law firm involved from the beginning as its better (and cheaper) to set it up properly than to try to fix something that’s not set up properly.


  • Summary of the Canadian regulations by province from FrontFundr.
  • Tool to identify sources of equity and non-dilutive financing: ca
  • BC Securities Commission information on private placements – raising capital in private markets, reporting requirements and forms, and methods/deadlines for filing and info on fees.
  • Watch the video of the event below.