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.