Alleged Con Man Graham Hnedak Uses Flickr to Source Victims and Then Victims Get Accounts Deleted by Flickr Staff for Documenting Fraud

James Kimball first met Graham Hnedak, a convicted con man who had served almost four years in prison in Tennessee, in January of 2009. Their initial introduction had been simple enough — Hnedak made a comment on one of Kimball’s Flickr photos. More interaction on Flickr quickly followed and soon Kimball and Hnedak had become fast online friends.

One thing led to another, Hnedak needed a place to live, and Kimball and his partner Rich Bailey agreed to allow Hnedak to live with them for two weeks in exchange for room and board (with a contract) according to Kimball. Kimball claims that this arrangement ended up in a personal nightmare when it ended up taking five months to get Hnedak out, during which time Hnedak defrauded them telling lie after lie and story after story as to the money that he owed them. Kimball documents what he calls his “five months of hell” month by month in detail on the photo descriptions in this set of his here.

Since that time Graham Hnedak has been charged by Seattle prosecutors with 8 counts of felony forgery for allegedly charging thousands of dollars on another former roommate’s credit cards. You can watch the most recent news report on Hnedak from KOMO News above.

On this news report there are dozens of other comments by people also claiming to be victimized by Hnedak in the past.

According to Kimball, Hnedak is a charming con man who uses his still active Flickr account here to source victims. Kimball said that he has complained to Flickr about Hnedak’s activity and even provided documentation of the fraud charges against him to no avail. Angry at having been victimized by Hnedak, Kimball then turned to his own Flickrstream to tell his story and inform the Flickr community about Hnedak. Kimball estimates that there are over 30 victims of Hnedak’s in the Seattle area and at least one victim from as far away as New Zealand.

Unfortunately, Kimball says, his own accounts have now been deleted three times by Flickr staff as he’s tried to warn others in the Flickr Community. All three times he said these accounts were deleted without warning or explanation. It was only after Kimball insisted on an explantition after his third account deletion that he was provided with a formal response from Flickr. According to Kimball they told him that his account had been deleted because he was “harassing” Hnedak.

In a post on his 4th new account on Flickr entitled “I Will Not Be Silenced” Kimball expresses his frustration at Flickr over deleting his accounts:

“Am I angry? No, frustrated is a better word to use. I don’t understand why so many other social sites have removed his accounts when evidence was provided but Flickr doesn’t seem to care. Is it a matter that they don’t care about their community? That’s a very good question.

In all honesty I don’t get it. Why leave Graham’s account up when from the evidence and testimonials others have offered to Flickr? He has used Flickr to gain victims, solicit money, advertise fake business, he posts photos that are not his, he slanders people and so on. What does it take to get Flickr to take notice? It would seem pretty easy since this was my 3rd account to get deleted. Oddly enough every complaint I have sent to Flickr has come back from the same person and they don’t seem to care.”

I tried to contact Hnedak via flickrmail but did not receive a response. I was able to find a William Graham Hendak listed in the Tennessee Felony Offender database as being released from prison in Tennessee in August of 2007. I also contacted PR contacts at Yahoo and received no response from them either — although at least one page from a former account of Kimballs would appear to be online in a version of Google’s cache. If I hear back from either Flickr/Yahoo or Hnedak directly, I will post their response as an update to this post.

Thanks to Invisible Cirkus for the heads up on this story.

Update: It would appear that Graham Hendak’s Flickr account has now been deleted.

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29 comments on “Alleged Con Man Graham Hnedak Uses Flickr to Source Victims and Then Victims Get Accounts Deleted by Flickr Staff for Documenting Fraud
  1. Rick says:

    Thomas, this is the same guy using another Flickr acct.
    http://www.flickr.com/people/aviationpics/

    Haven’t dug any deeper, just a FYI.
    Appreciate the heads-up!

  2. doran says:

    If this really is as Kimball says, at what point does Yahoo/Flickr become responsible? I don’t think it would be difficult for a lawyer to show that Yahoo/Flickr showed a disregard for the safety of Hnedak’s victims, again assuming what Kimball says is accurate.

  3. AnotherLeftShoe says:

    This is the original KOMO News Story that mentions his use of social sites to say he’s a pilot,businessman, etc.

    http://www.komonews.com/news/problemsolvers/94560649.html

    I had five accounts deleted by flickr for the same reason….trying to alert pilots and planespotters to his deception. I had a pending abuse report on file on the last account deleted and filed a new abuse report…both of which have had no response.

    This was my comment from two weeks ago on my flickr site which is now private “I found my prevoius complaint number Flickr Case 1512116 and filed a new abuse report. If my account gets deleted because of this report, please use that case number to make inquiries into why action was taken against me and not the person deceptively writing false stories. Lol, you will have to copy and save it somewhere, cause if my account gets taken down again, it will also disappear. This is the new # Flickr Case 1565393″

  4. Arty Smokes says:

    If you want a witch hunt, Thomas Hawk is the man to start it. Strangely though, no matter who the bad guys really are, he always seems to find that the guilt lies with Flickr staff.
    It’s funny that. Almost as funny as the fact he happily pays for his flickr account.

    Can some of you lot stop acting like a bunch of vigilantes? So there’s a convicted con-man on flickr. So what? He’s known to the police, isn’t he? What possible service does this blog offer?

  5. The so what is that he uses Flickr to gain victims and defraud them out of money. Since you had read my blog on Flickr I thought you would have read that.

    I am as I have always been blogging about on my account is to inform people that there is a snake in the grass. Look out for this guy, don’t get conned as I have and many other Flickr people have.

    Go ahead and sit back while someone else gets pulled into his cons. The next victim can be on your shoulders.

    My blog serves the purpose of letting people know the truth about this con, and to let them make the choice based on evidence.

    He is not only a convicted conman but a convicted conman still conning people.

    I am sorry if you feel my blog is a waste of time or that informing people isn’t a reason to have a blog.

    I am not sure I get your point and for that I am sorry. Can you tell me what the point is other than you feel that conning people on Flickr is okay and that my blog offers nothing.

  6. Thomas Hawk says:

    Arty Smokes is a well known Flickr sycophant who somehow feels it is his purpose in life to defend anything Flickr does.

    Personally I think deleting an account (multiple times) of someone who is trying to warn the Flickr Community about a documented fraudster is bad policy on Flickr’s part.

  7. Arty Smokes says:

    Thomas writes “Arty Smokes is a well known Flickr sycophant who somehow feels it is his purpose in life to defend anything Flickr does.”

    You know that is completely wrong and is more evidence of you trying to create drama. The fact is: Flickr staff don’t like me any more than they like you. I’m banned from the Help forum remember? I’m the person that has been most critical of flickr in its latest venture – the new photopage.
    Paint me out as a flickr sycophant all you like, but here’s the truth, as I posted in an official forum yesterday:
    “I was considering renewing my pro account if staff listened to the users for once and actually implemented our suggestions democratically. You’ve had three weeks to do so. You failed. I shan’t be paying any money to Yahoo/Flickr ever again.

    I helped pay your wages. I’ll never do it again. You don’t deliver the level of service I expect for a price I am willing to pay. I won’t be the last person to allow their pro account to lapse. Flickr has lost my trust and now it’s lost my money.”
    Full “sycophantic” rant at http://www.flickr.com/groups/newphotopagepreview/discuss/72157624488429584/#comment72157624364673445

    I’m no more a fan of flickr than I am a fan of Thomas Hawk. What I am is anti-bullshit.

    My advice to James is to avoid TH like the plague. He has a history of attaching himself to decent people and using their troubles to further his own ends. He is, in fact, something of a conman himself.

  8. Arty Smokes says:

    To Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody,
    You’ve clearly been treated appallingly by that Graham guy, and I can understand you being frustrated. I can also understand you wanting to warn people about him. Waging a campaign against him on flickr is not the best way of dealing with it, however. It will just lead to you having more accounts deleted, along with any friends you have who engage in similar behaviour, as flickr has rules against harassment.
    You should realise that Thomas Hawk is using you. Note that this blog is not one expressing sympathy for you, or even offering you advice, let alone trying to prevent further con tricks. Thomas Hawk (not his real name) is using your case to try and make flickr look bad. That is all he cares about. He tagged this story with “censorship” and “flickr”, not “conman on the loose”.
    For Hawk’s purposes, it will be good if you get another account deleted, as he can continue to call it censorship. What he should be doing is giving you advice on how to STOP getting deleted and giving advice on what you can do to get Flickr to remove the conman. He’s not doing that. You are being used. Again.

  9. Thomas Hawk says:

    You should realise that Thomas Hawk is using you. Note that this blog is not one expressing sympathy for you, or even offering you advice, let alone trying to prevent further con tricks.

    Arty,

    What complete and total BS from you as usual.

    Publicizing James’ case is what protects him and his cause. It is wrong for Flickr to delete accounts of Community members who are trying to warn a community against a known con man. A convicted felon. Someone currently facing 8 felony counts for fraud. It is immoral for Flickr to censor these individuals. Flickr acted stupidly in this case and without thinking. By exposing this it means that it won’t happen again hopefully in James’ case.

    Look, James’ has the exact same content up he did before warning the community and his account is still there. He hasn’t been deleted this time. He deserves to be able to express himself this way. Flickr ought not have deleted him in the first place and pointing this out very publicly gives him *more* protection in the future not less.

    Let’s look at his 4th account a month from now and see if it’s still here. I would be shocked if Flickr were to delete him a 4th time now that his cause is much more visible than it was before.

    This post is straight reporting. It’s not about expressing sympathy. It’s a news article. On a personal level I actually feel a great deal of sympathy for James — for the fact that he was conned and for the fact that Flickr has treated him so poorly when trying to expose a con man.

    I’m surprised that *anyone* would support the deletion of James’ accounts or would try to get him to tone down his warnings against an active flickr user who is using Flickr for fraud. But then again, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised in your case Arty.

  10. AnotherLeftShoe says:

    I think there is a bigger issue here with flickr. Many of the complaints have been about having photos removed that Graham has posted on his site, that were actual victims of his deception and cons with twisted and fabricated stories about them. Flickr has said you must ask the author to remove the photos. Well, how the heck do you do that when you are blocked by him? Several people have contacted him directly four months ago. Nothing, photos still up. One young mother was able to get several photos of her children removed by him, but he still has a few in his collages. He presents credibility to his audience with the fictictious stories and photos of credible people. What can be done to remove the photos?

  11. Arty Smokes says:

    You wrote “It is wrong for Flickr to delete accounts of Community members who are trying to warn a community against a known con man. A convicted felon. Someone currently facing 8 felony counts for fraud.”

    Flickr haven’t deleted James’s account for posting warnings. They’ve deleted his account for breaching the Community Guidelines, namely the part about harassing other members. It’s all covered by the “Play nice” part of the CGs.

    I could start posting blogs on flickr that said “Watch out for Thomas Hawk. He is a conman. He’s been misquoting and misrepresenting me. I don’t like his face” and I could have my account closed because the CGs forbid use of flickr for such purposes. As a flickr member, you have the right to be protected from malicious gossip and hearsay that is spread on the site itself. In real life, I probably couldn’t stand outside the home of a murderer with a big placard saying “A convicted killer lives here”, because it would be an infringement of his right to privacy.
    Likewise, if I dedicated a flickr blog to highlight and link to the stream of a convicted murderer (“Look at this stream, everyone. That guy is a murderer!”) I would be breaking the Terms of Service.

    *If* Graham Hnedak is using flickr to entrap people, or to get money from them fraudulently, then make that evidence public. Report it to flickr staff and/or the police. Heck, report it to me and I’ll get his account closed down. If he’s not breaking any rules on flickr, he is entitled to his privacy. All I’m seeing is a smear campaign. Since you don’t appear to have evidence of wrongdoing by Hnedak (other than previous convictions), you’re painting flickr staff out as the bad guys.
    If there are pending court cases involving Hnedak, then public reporting of them is likely to be prejudicial. In the UK (but perhaps not the US) James could be charged with contempt of court for posting unproven allegations. Hnedak may well be a convicted felon. He still deserves a fair trial in future cases brought against him. Flickr are most likely trying to be as fair and even-handed as possible. Since Thomas Hawk makes a habit of attacking flickr staff at every opportunity, it wouldn’t surprise me if staff took the opposite view to him by default. Anyone that allies themselves with Hawk is almost bound to be treated with suspicion. If a “victim of censorship” wants to be treated fairly, the last thing they should do is to get Hawk on their side. In a battle with flickr staff, he never wins.

  12. Arty Smokes says:

    AnotherLeftShoe wrote: “Many of the complaints have been about having photos removed that Graham has posted on his site, that were actual victims of his deception and cons with twisted and fabricated stories about them.”

    If you can prove the fabricated stories are untrue, you can sue for libel. Asking a lawyer to write to flickr HQ about the libels should result in pretty quick action, but you may as well bypass flickr entirely and just sue Hdenak if he is really telling lies about you or your friends.
    If the pictures were “stolen” by Hdenak, the real owners can use DMCA NOI forms for breach of copyright. If he took the photographs with his own camera, however, he can do pretty much whatever he likes with them.

  13. AnotherLeftShoe says:

    Thanks Arty. Suing someone civilally who has nothing is pointless – only outcome is monetary damages. As he brags in one of his stories, you can’t get blood from a turnip. Prefer the criminal route. Just check out his last story with the receipts where he writes someone’s name and says he scammed his elderly friend and he’s trying to bring justice for her. Do a google search on the name he uses….is that story true?

  14. AnotherLeftShoe says:

    Arty, here is an example of how he uses his flickr contacts to assist him in his schemes. This story leads him to ask his audience to help him by what he suggests “I’d suggest a subject line of confirmation of shipment of your item and a bogus tracking number”.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/kmemav8r/3929690084/

    We know from the comments that were previously present (they have since been removed by the individuals), that a few may have aided him in sending ‘bogus tracking numbers’. The account he had with ebay, pacnorth, is no longer active with ebay. He used that same ebay account in one of his schemes that Mad-Eye talks about when he was shipping Nortel Phones. He found the Nortel Phones from another flickr contact (link on Mad-Eye’s blog) and represented something different than salvage. The blogs alerting people to his deception brought out many other victims who didn’t know who to tell. It isn’t harassment of one person – its alerting innocent people who may be drawn in. The day before the accounts were rcently deleted by flickr another victim from another country wrote “I m shocked.. man, this guy is good.. he made me sent him money through paypal alleging he needed it for his health treatment. I feel so stupid..so naive… good that I sent him only 50 dollars I guess..
    “My email is graham******[info remomved by me].com and you can write and send anything you like – believe me i need it but I hate that it comes from your pension.” living and learning.. its hard to think that there are still people like this in the world.

  15. AnotherLeftShoe says:

    Correction to my last comment. The ebay account was “Pacnortel”, not pacnorth

  16. Arty Smokes says:

    @ AnotherLeftShoe
    Thanks for the flickr link about the ebay thing. I’m a bit confused about how it relates to his own scam victims, and he’s obviously removed comments (and blocked further commenting).
    However, he writes “i encourage all of my contacts to write and tell him just how low he really is”.
    If he was talking about a flickr user and pointing to their stream or email address, his account could be deleted in an instant. Since he’s effectively harassing an external source, flickr will not necessarily take action. Having said that, I recall a case in which the very popular flickr user Rebekka Gudleifsdottir published the contact details of someone who was illegally selling her photos on ebay. Flickr gave Rebekka a warning and I think they even deleted the whole page, complete with messages of support from her fans.

    I need to think about this, but I will probably complain to flickr about that particular page on Graham’s stream, as it seems to show clear evidence of his own style of harassment.
    I can’t guarantee that staff will take the page down, let alone Graham’s stream.
    I would also add that asking all your friends to report the same page will just result in more problems for you. Flickr staff absolutely hate it when users “gang up” on someone. This is why I hope James dials back his anger on his own stream. Anyone can see he’s upset and frustrated, but stirring up more trouble will just lead to his own deletion. He should not be putting all those links to Graham’s stream(s). It just makes him look like a bully.
    I hope this helps.

  17. Anonymous says:

    That was just one example Arty, and yes those pages have been brought to the flickr admin’s attention. Including one’s where he falsely says he’s worked with Boeing since 1997. He created a whole charity scheme on flickr calling it a platinum photographer’s donation. Had money sent to his pay pal account claiming he refunded everyone, when he had not (see news story comments). Until our blogs came about, names of people who donated were pictured on credit card likenesses…those got removed from the blogs bringing attention to it. He still has a private site set up where he lists people who want to loan or gift him items….flickr is aware of that, but its still up. He asks for assistence – those pages are still up. He has told people he has an “in” with admin and we believe it. He’s used “guest passes” to certain contacts slandering flickr contacts who came forward on flickr. There is a long list of his TOS violations – and flickr turns the other way. Because his site is still up, that is the only reason other blogs were created to warn others of his deceptive use of the site.

  18. Arty Smokes says:

    Just a follow-up. I’ve reported the “ebay scam” page to flickr staff. I have no idea what action they will take (maybe they’ll delete me!), but they will at least know about the case(s) if they didn’t already. I won’t be revealing details of any correspondence, to Thomas Hawk or anyone else.
    I want everyone to be treated fairly. If James is breaking the rules, then he should be deleted. If Graham is breaking the rules, then he should be deleted too.
    To be honest, I’m really annoyed that I got sucked into Hawk’s latest witch hunt, since it puts my own reputation in jeopardy (guilt by association). Hawk hasn’t got the guts to contact staff himself, so it’s always people like me that have to do it.
    I hope this matter gets resolved swiftly.

  19. Arty Smokes says:

    To Anon,

    If any of those latest accusations have any basis in truth, I definitely don’t want any further involvement. This isn’t a matter for me, you, Thomas Hawk, or flickr staff to deal with. This is for the police and the legal system. I wish you and your cohorts good luck in bringing the alleged criminal to justice, but this is where I say “Goodbye and good luck!”

  20. Anonymous says:

    Don’t know how I became anonymous – Arty, I did a google image search and thought those credit card looking pictures were removed, apparently they were just taken “private” as I don’t have permission to see them. But the images come up in thumbnail still with names on the cards of people who donated to this “charity”.

  21. Sick and tired of all the BS says:

    I know for a fact that he has his private group asking for money still up and running. I’m a member of that group and have clicked the “report abuse” link and NEVER heard anything back from flickr.

    That alone is a TOS violation along with selling anything on flickr, even your photos posted to flickr.

    http://www.flickr.com/guidelines.gne

  22. NotUsuallyAnonymous says:

    Sounds like typical sociopath M.O.–cry foul loudly and more effectively when someone tells the truth about you. Is it any surprise that someone who makes his living conning people out of large sums of money can also con flickr support staff?

    Be careful talking about this schmuck, he’s clearly a vengeful asshole with nothing to lose. Don’t get on his radar. Decent folks are at a tremendous disadvantage defending against this sort of critter.

  23. CryLoudly says:

    Conning flickr contacts as middlemen – at least one other flickr contact posted the following story in a private blog to help the ‘schemer’ in lending him credibility to what he wrote. [Story removed from private blog when story did not check out]. How many other flickr contacts has he used as ‘middlemen’ to one of his schemes?

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/kmemav8r/3662177164/

  24. Peddling - all reported says:

    How many TOS violations reported does flickr admin ignore?

    Chocolate pedaling:
    “And if you find them appealing, you can order them as a few are in my holiday Executive Gift Line this year.”

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/kmemav8r/4026669518/

    Another example: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kmemav8r/3497900151/

    “It is a mixture of an aviation theme, a chance to see the MS Logos I created and order T-Shirts that have the MS logo on them and you can buy two vintage style coffee mugs with the Northwest logo of 1989 on it (my favorite and the one on the first huge order I received from Northwest in 1989) and a wrap around post card imprint on the other mug.”

  25. H says:

    The conman’s site has been removed or he removed it himself and so he’s probably up and going somewhere else getting more vunerable victims and then the circle probably start over again..I hope that this con will be tossed to the jailcell…

  26. H2 says:

    When is the next court hearing for this con?

  27. Cirkus` says:

    As a follow up, this person (William Graham Hnedak) plead guilty to 12 charges today for some of the crimes he committed in the Seattle area.

  28. Brianne Mon says:

    Hm, I’m happy with this nevertheless not thoroughly confident, hence i’m about to research a little more.

  29. AnotherLeftShoe says:

    From the KOMO news story April 8, 2011: SEATTLE — A prolific con man who preyed on vulnerable victims has learned his fate. A judge on Friday sentenced Graham Hnedak to 44 months in prison. A Problem Solver investigation exposed Hnedak, who made a career out of spinning tales of trouble, gaining sympathy and money and leaving a trail of victims. In court on Friday, he had no words of apology for any of them. “It’s not like I just went out and stole somebody’s car, stole somebody’s identity,” he said.

    http://www.komonews.com/news/problemsolvers/119514294.html