New scam sniffed out by locals

Alger County residents avoided a scam this week as an unknown perpetrator attempted to fake a two-weekend event in Munising. The event poster was shared in the county’s largest Facebook group “Munising Informed” around Memorial Day.

Advertised as “Summer Festival”, the event was supposed to bring “Over 60 Juried Crafts and Artists” to the Lynn Street Playground, with free parking, electrical access and more on June 17-18 and again on June 24-25. The scam comes from collecting reservation fees and providing sensitive information by signing up for the fake event.

A number of factors raised suspicions for locals. First, a number of spelling and grammatical errors are on the poster, ranging from improper comma usage to odd capitalization. More locals were quick to point out that there would be no space for that amount of vendors at that park; even if there were space, there would only be on-street parking available. The poster also said the event would be well advertised, but no Munising-based media groups were contacted about advertising the event.

Beacon staff confirmed with City of Munising that there were no permits submitted for the dates or locations. City staff went even further by saying that there has never been an event permit granted for that playground.

Other issues with the poster also tips off the public that this is a scam. The company name at the top “Borcelle Presents” does not correlate with any actual businesses. It can refer to an Etsy shop and a financial firm in Lagos, Nigeria, but in this case it refers back to the online graphics platform Canva. A number of poster templates available to users include the phrase “Borcelle Presents” as a text-box placeholder so users can put their own company name in that spot.

A search of the contact email from the poster also resulted in a number of various special event scams around the United States.

While fake event scams have been investigated regularly since 2021 according to the Better Business Bureau, this is the first known documentation for this type of scam in Alger County.

“As the various online scams continue to grow more complex and creative, people need to be aware of things that seem off or not right. Scammers will always find new ways to scam, so people need to remain aware at all times,” said Cori Cearley of the Munising Visitors Bureau and moderator of the Munising Informed Facebook group. “If something seems off, ask more questions, report to admins, delete or block. Never give out your personal information to unverified people in general.”

No known victims were defrauded in the scam attempt at time of publication. Additional documentation related to the scam discovered by The Munising Beacon was sent to the Alger County Sheriff’s Office. The Munising Beacon contacted Canva about the issue and said through email that using the platform to defraud individuals is against the company’s Terms of Use.