The alleged warranty scammer SNEWS alerted the industry about in December is at it again, changing names, but keeping a similar story and the same address for outdoor brands to send him free gear.
Let’s cut to the chase. The alleged scammer, previously using the name Allen Scott, now Johnie Wilburn, and probably others, claims to be hiking the Appalachian Trail when the gear he is requesting breaks down.
The scammer is well versed in outdoor gear and will describe in detail how the product failed. He will say that he cannot take a photo of the product and can’t mail it back because he is on the trail. He uses combative and aggressive arguments in emails SNEWS has reviewed. His “solution” is for brands to mail his wife or relative a free replacement, who will then deliver it to him in person on the trail.
The address in all cases has been: 1202 Quail Hollow Circle, Cookeville, TN, 38501. Several companies have alerted the local police department in Cookeville, which says it is investigating the case.
It is advised that your warranty departments not send products to the above address and be highly suspicious of any request where the “customer” demands free replacement gear with excuses of why they cannot send the “defective” product back first.
Officials tell SNEWS the scammer already has attempted to hit the same companies he started with under the new name. The scammer has contacted more than a dozen outdoor brands, large and small, since last November. If you have any additional information, contact your local authorities and help spread the word through industry circles and social media.
“He is well educated on thru hikers and the AT,” one source said of the scammer. “He either is a former AT hiker or has done a lot of online research. He knows how to talk about technical outdoor products.���