Dealing with a category 4 hurricane is scary and all we can hope for is safety and a little distraction to get us through 24 hours of heavy winds, rains and tornado warnings. Yesterday, I got the ultimate distraction in the form of being a part of a group of shop owners who discovered a scammer among us in the small shop community.
Meet Mariela Sepulveda Clark, owner of Wild Rubies and Mini Fox Moccs. In addition to running two small shops and having her kids rep for shops under @rubi.and.emma, Mariela has also been organizing loop giveaways on Instagram since January 2016 and has been manipulating the results so that she could pocket the prize money. In her own words, “I’m not sorry and I would do it again.”
According to Mariela, her mother has stage 4 colon cancer and she needed money to help her pay for medical bills. Instead of reaching out to people, organizing an auction, selling her belongings, or just plain working harder, she decided to steal from hard-working small shop owners by organizing these loops, asking for $15-$20 buy-ins and then manipulating the results and choosing herself as the winner each time. She had set up multiple fake accounts on Instagram in addition to choosing her own daughters rep account twice, her personal account, @marielitasc and a friends account who won two of her loops but only received a small part of the winnings (she kept the rest). So far, we have identified nine loops where these fake accounts have won money in the thousands, though she only admits to doing it four times.
It all started yesterday when she announced the winner of her most recent loop (@mrsperez88). Immediately a couple of participants mentioned that this winning Instagram account looks like a fake account. As soon as I saw that, I started investigating and found that her husband, @juanma_08 had been one of the few likes on multiple pictures on that fake account. With the help of some pretty awesome ladies including @icebyissa and @littleblessingco, we uncovered a web of lies that dated back months ago and possibly years ago. When we asked her about it, she tried to cover her tracks at first but eventually started admitting things little by little. She messaged the loop group with the following message almost as soon as she realized she was caught, “Everyone this is embarrassing to say, leave me your emails and I’ll refund by tonight because I’m about to leave a baptism, I hope you can forgive me – I tried to to manipulate the winner so that a friend and I could end up with the winnings.” Although, as we were to find out later, there is no “friend”.
While we tried to help her to fix this all in the beginning, she began making statements like “If I’m going to pay everyone back I don’t see how burning down my shop to potential customers is fair retribution.” In other words, she would be happy to tell those who participated in her loops, but didn’t want the entire small shop community to know because it would ruin her reputation and stop her from making sales in the future. The blame quickly turned to us, those that were trying to make her do the right thing, saying that we weren’t helping her to fix her mistakes. And it was at that point where we all decided that people needed to know the truth so that they could make their own decision whether or not to do business with her in the future. She justified stealing $160 from one shop owner by saying “you still got a ton of followers it’s not like you got nothing.”
On a personal level, I sincerely hope that she is being honest about her mother’s illness and that it isn’t all another scam. If her mother is sick, I pray for her and her family to help them to deal with such a horrible ordeal. I wouldn’t wish that type of pain on anybody. I understand that in times where you may be losing a family member that you can become desperate, but in no way does that justify stealing from others. It makes me sick to my stomach thinking about how many people she has scammed and would have continued scamming, had we not caught her this time. While she has admitted to most of what she’s done, she continued to lie to us about so many things, up until we posted about the scam on all of the Facebook brand rep groups. She refused to admit that she was the owner of Mini Fox Moccs, even though we pointed out at least three forms of proof to her. Once we posted on Facebook, it was confirmed by one of her brand reps that she is in fact the owner. She also posted the following in the @minifoxmoccs brand rep group, confirming it for us again, “In the light of recent events (if you don’t know, you will) I completely understand those that will be inevitably stepping down. Please know I am truly not a horrible person. What I did was bad. And I knew it was wrong as I was doing it. I am truly desperate and didn’t see another way. I will be around for questions shortly. I’m currently with my mom.”
If you have been a part of any of her loop giveaways, I suggest you first contact Mariela and ask her for your money back. Should you have a problem, you can always call PayPal to explain the situation and they can hopefully get your money back, shut down her PayPal account and stop her from opening another one and doing this again.
The one thing she repeated over and over again is that she doesn’t regret her decisions and would do it again. These are her words to someone that was on her brand rep team, “Seeing as how my mother is still alive thanks to being able to pay for her deductible for her surgery to remove part of her colon and get a colostomy bag this prolonging her life, yes I would do it all over again. If you wouldn’t, then you are a far better human than I will ever be. I am sorry about this entire situation it’s been horrible, and I can barely breathe and I’m embarrassed but I would do it again if it meant my mom would still be with me.”
While myself and none of those shops involved in uncovering this nightmare want this to turn into a witchhunt, we do want to hold her accountable and push her to follow through on her promise to make things right and refund every single person that she stole from. We also hope that the actions of a couple of dishonest people doesn’t cause you to question the thousands of good, honest, hard-working shop owners and loop organizers. Feel free to ask questions. Feel free to be fully informed before giving your money to anyone. That’s your right. And please, if you see anything alarming in any situation, speak up. Let’s work together and protect one another. We can’t allow another storm to tear down this community we love so much.
**I have included screenshots of the entire DM so that you can all read what transpired. Since then, multiple people have come forward in our brand rep Facebook groups and provided even more information. I’m sure this isn’t the end of the story, but hopefully the beginning of Mariela making this all right.