An individual referring to himself as Arnaud Henry Mensan posed online as an editor of numerous glam and fashion publications to defraud several world-renowned and upcoming designers. It is believed that the fraudster editor who used names of publications such as Dazed Media, i-D, Vogue, W Magazine, Nylon and Numero to rob gullible designers from tens of thousands’ worth of garments, according to London-based publication, Dazed.
The criminal’s Instagram bio – that has since been taken down – listed him as an editor of many influential publications as well as a member of Business of Fashion’s annual BoF 500 list. None of these claims were true but the “90+K followers strong Instagram account” alone allowed his fraudulent activities to thrive and deceive many unsuspecting designers.
As i-D detailed last year, designer Martin Across – one the Mensan’s victims – “looked for him on social networks and confirmed that he had more than 40,000 followers on Instagram” before he sent the garments that Mensan had requested.
It is, of course, easy to speculate in retrospect that his Gmail email address should have rung some bells but his front appeared so credible that designers didn’t even ‘Google’ him before shipping off their merchandise.
How online fraudster editor created credible front
Complete with hundreds of photos of “his” styling and photography work, the captions accompanying Mensan’s photos included mentions of his seemingly legitimate partners. The inclusion of specific brands and publications, including @HeroMagazine, @numero, @schiaparelli, and @eliesaab, among others, gave a sense of legitimacy to his claims. Despite looking quite legitimate, however, these accounts are nothing but dummies, most likely set up and curated by Mensan himself. Upon closer inspection these accounts don’t have any pictures and / or followers; most of them are ‘private’ accounts.
In connection with one photo, Mensan claimed to have styled an editorial for Hero magazine’s May issue. He includes a photo and his caption includes the @HeroMagazine handle. The magazine’s actual account is @HeroMag.
Mensan did this with Numero magazine, as well, tagging @Numero – an inactive account – as opposed to the magazine’s official Instagram account, @NumeroMagazine. The same can be said of Elie Saab, whose official handle is not @eliesaab but @eliesaabworld and of Schiaparelli, which maintains a verified account with the handle @elsaschiaparelli not @schiaparelli.
Instagram’s built-in copyright fraud loopholes allowed fraudster editor to thrive
Of course, none of the photos on his account were actually shot or styled by him. The copyright breach that is impossible to track or prosecute via Instagram – an endless pit of plagiarism – thanks to a non-cooperative ‘support team’.
Berluti defrauded of $10,000 worth of garments
According to Dazed, Mensan has reached out to both emerging and well-established labels to ask for pieces that he claimed would be featured in Elle, Bullet, I-D, AnOther and Dazed. “Representatives for Berluti reached out to Dazed to detail how Mensan had reached out to their Paris office, claiming he was planning photoshoots in Japan. He told the brand that the editorials were for AnOther and Dazed, as well as ‘soon to be relaunched’ Dazed Japan. None of these shoots were ever scheduled to take place, and Mensan is in no way affiliated with Dazed and AnOther.” Berluti ultimately lent Mensan upwards of $10,000 in garments, which he never returned.
Police are currently investigating his crimes, and Mensan has since deleted all websites and social media accounts associated with his name. Despite that, many designers – including Berluti, Sadie Clayton, Bradley Jordan and Martin Across – have lost tens of thousands to his scams.
The fashion industry spans continents and we all hide behind screens when communicating, we still operate largely on a code of honour. We believe that people are who they say they are and are surprised and outraged when they’re not. Thinking about it, it’s not surprising that some have realized how easy it is to take advantage of the goodwill of others – instead, it’s remarkable that it doesn’t happen more often. The rule of thumb is that if the so-called Editor hasn’t got a single article or credit to his name, it is most likely a fraud. Designers and PR should always check for credentials.