Stamp Collectors Against Dodgy Sellers
March 23, 2003
In efforts to keep track of the scams perpetrated by David Holt and his aliases, members of the ABAA and the philatelic community have put together a summary of his aliases and scams. This will be continually updated as new information comes to hand. Please read "The Spawn of David George Holt", and pass on any information not as yet included to Ken Sanders at the address below.
Efforts by authorities to track down the whereabouts of David Holt have so far been in vain. Holt is 5' 11", 165 lbs, medium build, brownish hair going to gray, born in Illinois in 1947.
A man purporting to be Karl Fisher from Germany attended the APS AmeriStamp Expo 2003 in Biloxi, MS, on 1 March. Fisher was offering dealers expensive covers, which one dealer noted had fake cancellations. He was seen with a young lady who appeared 40 years younger than himself, in her late teens or early 20s, as per this description:
"The man was probably in his 60's and about 5' 10" grayish hair, fairly well dressed in an older style suit with overcoat. And was carrying a leather bag, not an attaché case, brown in color. The lady who was with him was about 5' 6", maybe 25 yrs old at best. Average looking, not one that would stand out in a crowd, blondish brown hair, shoulder length."
Could this be David Holt? Anyone with any information on these people, including details of physical description, should contact Ken Sanders at the address below.
All of Holt's frauds have presented Oleg Chebotarev as the man to send money to by wire transfer or Western Union. His Curriculum Vitae shows him to be from Volgograd, Russia, the same city as the location of the ISP accessing the email@example.com email account (see March 15 report below).
Chebotarev's email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) is that used by someone purporting to be Valentin Karpov of Antique Books (using the website http://www.antique-books.org ). In January 2000, Karpov was offering rare maps, and was apparently known to the bookselling community as a scammer.
Anyone with more information on either Chebotarev or Karpov should contact Ken Sanders at the address below.
March 15, 2003
A timely dealer warning bulletin on Frederik Buwe sent out by the APS on March 12 has more than likely saved members from being taken in by this scam, and also unearthed the identity of the scammer. Frederik Buwe is an alias used by David George Holt, who has spent time in jail for defrauding the bookselling community by offering non-existent books.
David Holt was born in Illinois in 1947 and is 5' 11" tall, 165lbs with a slim build. He is a native born English speaker, although his writings are an attempt to disguise this. A telephone conversation held with a man identifying himself as Holt indicated that his voice was that of an older man (not elderly) with a vaguely eastern European accent.
Members of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA) were instrumental in getting Holt into jail, and have been on the watch for him and his activities following his release from a federal prison in Michigan about three years ago. Since then, he has operated under a variety of names and organisations, usually with a Russian connection, with Frederik Buwe being his most recent alias in the bookselling community.
Holt is known to begin a new scam by contacting an unsuspecting dealer requesting descriptions and scans of images (see first email from Buwe). He then uses this material to offer to others at firesale prices, insisting upon some sort of token up-front fee prior to shipping.
Scans and descriptions of 8 South African stamps and varieties offered by Buwe have been found to be clipped from the South African Deverell/McGregor website www.rhodesia.co.za/ owned by dealers Michael Deverell and Alan McGregor. A rich text format email associated with this offering contained Cyrillic characters, which replaced the special characters ½, é, ê, etc. used on the website.
From what we have seen so far, the modus operandi used by Holt is the same as that practised by Fisher and Buwe, that is:
In this case, the recipient is listed as Prof. Oleg Chebotarev, supposed Vice President of the "Foundation of Economical Development of Countries of East Europe" (see below for address details). Members of the philatelic community have been offered stamps, postal history, coins and autographs. Those with contacts in the numismatic community should be alert for similar scams.
Frederik Buwe apparently has a helper! Calling himself Francisk Lewo, this man has been known to follow up scams in progress with emails on the status of payment and shipping, and has even telephoned a customer to check that the initial Western Union payment has been made. Lewo's speech comes across on the telephone as being of "of Arabic origin" and he "sounded nothing like a Swiss Banker or a Swiss national and did not seem to know much about stamps".
The bookselling community's investigations show that:
SCADS have checked the email@example.com email address and found it still active. The address was accessed at least once through the ISP 34ru.net domain (registered in Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad, Russia), and forwarded to webmail provider http://win.mail.ru .
ABAA Security Committee Chair Ken Sanders is coordinating the investigation of this case in conjunction with law enforcement authorities. As Holt has threatened two ABAA members, Sanders cautions anyone contacted to be extremely careful in any dealings with Holt.
Please pass all new information to:
Ken Sanders, Chair
ABAA Security Committee
Ken Sanders Rare Books, ABAA, ILAB
268 South 200 East
Salt Lake City, Utah 84111
Please also keep the following organisations informed, so that they can pass updates as they occur to the philatelic community:
APS Info, at
March 8, 2003:
Following a call for more information, SCADS received copies of emails allowing connections to be made between Fisher and a new name - Frederik Buwe, of Lugano in Switzerland. Buwe is the supposed co-owner of a family-owned bank, which is now selling off its investments of antiques, coins, U.S. stamps and Canadian postal history.
Buwe's email contained an offer of U.S. stamps, the descriptions and discounted prices of which were identical to those offered by Fisher, as can be seen in this selection of emails from Fisher and Buwe.
Insidiously, Buwe is soliciting dealers for website catalogues, no doubt to acquire details and scans of more items for his scam.
Buwe lists his address as:
Frederik Buwe Collections
Riva Vincenzo Vela 4
As for Karl Fisher, all email addresses supplied by Buwe were from ISP's offering free mail.
The ASDA has issued a dealer warning bulletin on Frederik Buwe, as well as a new name - Oleg Chebotarev, whose contact details are as follows:
March 7, 2003:
Our thanks to John Jamieson and APS staff for providing the information presented below.
In early February, numerous collectors and dealers from Canada and other countries received emails from a person calling himself Karl Fisher of Fisher's Rarities Ltd in Zermatt, Switzerland. The line used by Fisher was that he is selling his antique business stock now that his son is taking over the business.
Fisher was offering stamps and covers at substantially discounted prices, and payment was to be made to him personally, as well as to alleged "charities". However, the attached scans were found to have been stolen from various websites.
Canadian dealer John Jamieson of Saskatoon Stamp Centre was first alerted to this fraud at the Great Western Stamp Show at Richmond held on February 7-9. Two different people at the show had received emails containing scans of early Canadian covers, including one John had brought with him to the show, and which had been clipped from his website http://www.saskatoonstamp.com/.
After the show, a client passed John an email from Fisher, who had offered the following 6 covers from the website and which were still in stock, for about one quarter of the prices advertised on the Saskatoon Stamp Centre's website:
33952.0 62323.0 69244.0 69330.0 69606.0 69607.0
John alerted ASDA and APS staff on February 11, and has since received at over 50 responses to his warning, most of which contained copies of the original email from Fisher.
The Saskatoon Stamp Centre was not the only website affected. U.S.A. and Hawaiian items were offered, as well as those from selected countries offered to recipients who had responded, informing Fisher of their particular interest. As far as is known, no one has fallen for the scam and sent money.
John's contacts in Switzerland confirmed that Fisher, who used the following address, was unknown in the Swiss philatelic community:
Prof. Karl Fisher
Fisher's Rarities Ltd.
Swiss telephone books show that there is:
Fisher used the following e-mail addresses, all from ISP's offering free mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org - APPARENTLY NOW CLOSED "DUE TO FRAUDULENT ABUSE"
email@example.com - APPARENTLY NOW CLOSED "DUE TO FRAUDULENT ABUSE"
The APS has issued a dealer warning bulletin on Karl Fisher. Anyone with further details can contact:
APS Info, at