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Fraud & Scam Warning: Goldstriker.co.uk & Stuarthughes.com Buyer Beware! (Updated 7/2/2010)


Summary:

This page was created to serve as fraud warning to future customers of two of our competitors: Goldstriker and Stuart Hughes. Upon two separate occasions once in 2008 and again in 2010, these companies have rebranded Computer Choppers product photos as their own in hopes of attracting a willing buyers of expensive products they do not create nor do they intend to until they have the customer's money securely in their pockets. The following is a summary of events that have transpired in late March 2010 when Stuart Hughes (owner of both websites above) decided to rebrand Computer Choppers custom 24kt Gold-Plated Macbook Air product photos as his own entirely fake"Supreme Ice Edition" and "Supreme Fire Edition" Macbook Air". Mr. Hughes proceeded to falsely advertise and publicize this $210,000 USD product to media outlets and blogs world wide. When one of our staff saw a striking similarity to a recent Computer Choppers creation, we looked closer at the images and saw our service mark of interlocking C's in Mr. Hughes' photos. Upon providing our evidence of the service mark in Mr. Hughes' own photos, he finally admitted wrongdoing after initial denials and removed the photos. Unfortunately, within a few hours, the images were back on his website with our service marks deleted and an email sent to us from Mr. Hughes threatening legal action for exposing his fraud on the Computer Choppers website.

Besides ripping off our products, they continue actively promoting the $210,000 Supreme Ice Macbook Air and other photoshopped pink, gold, and gray Macbook Air's as real products. They have never created these laptops but are using images of our products to scam magazines, blogs, and clients worldwide hoping to swindle money from an unsuspecting customer. We'll leave the discussion of the bogus features and Apple keyboard differences between the U.S. and U.K. regions for another day. Our goal is simply to make people aware of these fraudulent businesses and to keep the luxury electronics industry honest. We suggest to customers to stay away from Goldstriker and Stuart Hughes due to these fraudulent practices. You won't see them create any custom plated Macbook Air in the future so we expect them to continue using our product photos as a means to steal from their customers. Buyer beware.

Goldstriker and Stuarthughes websites are run Stuart and Katherine Hughes. These companies have requested from Computer Choppers to become an authorized distributor of our custom laptop products and we have declined them numerous times. Unfortunately at some point in the past few months, Stuart Hughes decided that instead of creating products for his new (self-titled) website, he would rather use products already created by other companies (such as Computer Choppers) and digitally alter them using Adobe Photoshop to appear as his own branded creation (without permission from us). He proceeded to remove trademarks, service marks, and add or subtract color to give the appearance of a specific precious metal to match the product features he was promoting (example: a pink hue on a laptop = rose gold). A simple tour of the Stuarthughes website will show some glaring examples of poorly photoshopped "Supreme Edition" products. Various skewing and perspective errors are readily apparent. This is what happens when a company does not wish to spend money on their own research and development of a custom luxury product and instead rips them off ours so they can save thousands of dollars.

The Fraud:


In late January 2010, Computer Choppers received an order from an Australian client for a polished 24kt Gold Macbook Air. While working on this product, our staff receive an email requesting from Goldstriker and Stuart Hughes to become a distributor of our products:

Goldstriker wrote (2/5/10):

Hi mate

Can we borrow a few of your images with your consent , we have big buyers for your stuff.

Also on receipt of orders we will begin to get our own images done.

-Stu

Computer Choppers reply (2/5/10):

Hi Stu,

At this time I'd prefer we don't.  We haven't had much luck with resellers on the larger products because our name is tattooed on them.  We're working on a few dedicated CC outlets overseas but trying not to get too far over our heads till the economy picks back up.

-Computer Choppers

We finished our polished 24kt Gold Macbook Air for the Australian client (photos below) and continued on with our day to day operations as usual. Unbeknownst to us this client forwarded the laptop to Stuart Hughes at Goldstriker. Since we have no distribution or reselling agreement with Goldstriker or Stuart Hughes, we don't sell products to either of them.


Apparently disregarding our previous email, Stuart Hughes sends us a new email just a couple of weeks later having gotten his hands the laptop with just finished and complete with rebranded images of our 24kt Gold Macbook Air. Forgetting he left our trademark CC logo on the keyboard's spacebar. Also completely leaving out any discussion of having already actively started promoting the product on blogs and in the media.

Goldstriker/Stuarthughes wrote 3/25/10:

Hi Alex

Hope you are well , we have taken hold of one of your 24ct gold macbook air’s , your work is absolutely superb my freind. Anyway we’ve just had some images taken for retail as attached , can you let me know how much your trade prices will be for us. We hope to bring you many orders after we put the feelers out. See pic attached

Regards

-Stu

Computer Choppers reply pointing out that a "Supreme Ice Platinum Macbook Air" was on the Stuart Hughes website looking oddly familiar to our own 24kt Gold Macbook Air (3/25/10):

Hi Stu,

We're really getting sour on overseas companies using our products in their promotions prior without so much as a request and even worse without our brand attached.  I noticed your website has a modified version on the site as well under your branding.  This is the second time this month (another company being from the Netherlands) that we've had to ask to remove these things.  I realize our work is popular but we won't be able to do business if this is how it's going to be working between the companies.   Please remove the photos of the Air until we can work out a contract for the products otherwise it's a no go on our end.  This is a headache for us and I can't tell you how many times we've had to request other luxury companies remove these things.  I know I've discussed this before with you guys previously so lets make sure the paperwork and details are in place before any promotions will be done because we won't be filling the orders otherwise.

We can back up and start on the details of a partnership once the promos have been removed from all media.  I hope you understand.  Thanks.


Alex Wiley
(owner)
Computer Choppers

Goldstriker/Stuart Hughes' reply lying to us about the Supreme Ice Platinum Macbook Air (3/25/10):

The stuart hughes one is not your work ( obviously)

I know I have a gold laptop of yours in my hand but I had to pay for this, well it was more of an exchange but really I had to see your work , so really are you telling people to stop selling macbooks ?

Come on mate sort this out

-Stu

Computer Choppers reply (3/25/10):

Hi Stu,

I understand the photo is yours.  The product is ours whether you have had it digitally altered or not and you are marketing it under your own name which we don't allow with any of our distributors.  Whether you had to pay for the item or not is none of our concern.  Our concern is over our exclusivity of Computer Choppers customized products.  That is why we have distribution agreements in writing as to what is being sold and how it is being marketed. We've come along way from having companies simply request the photos to use anywhere they please.  We are not and have not ever been a generic supplier of custom laptops and I'm sure you understand that.  This is a signature product of ours and it's exclusivity is of value to our company.  You can try to argue that the digitally altered photo of our Macbook Air is yours but it's not going to fly with me or any of the staff.

If you're looking to market our products, as with any company, it's best to speak to us first to see what the requirements are.  We understand a lot of companies want access to our laptops because the promotion helps tremendously but you should probably speak with us first before jumping the gun and promoting something that doesn't exist.  If we can't agree on working together, there won't be any laptops to sell.  If we can, great but lets work it out first so we're playing by the rules.

Alex Wiley
(owner)
Computer Choppers

We did not receive a reply from Mr. Hughes until we sent another email out the following Monday and Tuesday demanding removal of the images from their website falsely advertising our product. Mr. Hughes reply stated his web designer is "out on holiday." It was about that time our employees started seeing blogs reporting a $210,000 USD Supreme Ice Macbook Air Platinum laptop being heavily promoted by Goldstriker and Stuart Hughes. Mr. Hughes unfortunately forgot to remove our Computer Choppers "CC" service mark on the photos he passed around to various blogs including Luxist.com, Elitechoice.org, and others. Making it very clear that the Supreme Ice Platinum Macbook Air was in fact our 24kt Gold Macbook Air.

Here's some of the low res photos Stuart Hughes sent to media and even ones taken directly from their website. Our 24kt Gold Macbook Air was digitally altered (photoshopped) with a low resolution diamond logo and the entire photo was grayscaled to make the laptop appear like polished platinum. The low resolution photos keep the blogs from seeing the diamond logo is in fact photoshopped by Mr. Hughes and his company:

Stuart Hughes Website & Media Photos (3/31/10)


Our promotions team sent out some DMCA requests and most of the U.S. and some overseas blogs were kind enough to update their postings with accurate information. We also decided it would be in our interest and everyone's interest to post a fraud warning on our website. When a $210,000 product is being falsely advertised and even ripped off from another company, consumers deserve to know who's preying on them. In this case, Goldstriker and Stuart Hughes think they can lure a customer with these photos and swindle them with a product that doesn't exist nor have they ever created. With the features stating a "solid platinum" display housing and 25 carats of diamonds in the logo, we have to wonder if anyone could actually create such a thing. The Macbook Air hinges can support a weight of less than 1.5lbs without slamming shut and the logos barely fit 3 carats of diamonds. We should know, we work on these products everyday.

So with the posting of a fraud warning, we finally receive an email reply from Mr. Hughes threatening legal action from across the pond. It's only funny because he thinks ripping off our work is fine but libel and defamation are certainly not ok. (3/31/10)

Alex,

Remove that libel from your website with immediate effect. You are falsely disputing the reputation of me as a person and my company, if it is not removed instantly I will begin legal proceedings. The pictures on my website of the macbook air, are my pictures of my product. Yes we have had one of your laptops, purely to compare the workmanship. We have decided we don't require your services. We have had a couple of companies contact us to advise us of the defamation on your website, the further this spreads the greater the damages I will be claiming - so it is in your interest to remove it NOW!!

Regards

Stuart Hughes

We replied to Stuart Hughes once again with the photo evidence (posted above) pointing out our logos in the photos he distributed to the media (3/31/10):

Hi Stu,

It seems both of our companies are in need of something from each other so this should work out wonderfully. Let me help you understand that you are using our products on your website so you can stop telling so many lies to us and get down to business. See the images you distributed to media outlets, news organizations, and are currently in use on your website (as of today) all feature our servicemark "interlocking C's" located on the keyboard spacebar key of the Supreme Ice Edition laptop photos you claim as yours. This also includes the high resolution photo of our 24kt Gold Macbook Air (also photoshopped) that you emailed us with your Goldstriker branding on it. Now this wouldn't actually be possible if you made your own custom laptop because why would you put two C's on your own laptop/s? You don't need to bother telling your graphics/web designer to delete this because we've already saved every image of the laptop used in the media (that we could find) as well as taken screen shots with the date and time stamps of your site.

But wait, there's more.

You could prove us wrong by providing the original raw images from the photoshoot of your platinum laptop without removing the exif metadeta. Meaning no modifications have been done in an image program such as Photoshop. This would include very specific close up photos of the laptop because we can compare them to our own high resolution photos we take of every product that leaves our shop. And when I say detailed photos, let me tell you we typically have over 100 photos from each product we send out detailing every inch of the item. The same can be said for the interior as well. We could even match up the images of the serial numbers on the bottom of the laptop just to verify.

We will go ahead and remove the posting as soon as you remove our laptop product from your website permanently. You can choose to play games if you want but we've already begun building a case for you (in the U.S. at least). The posting on our website has stated nothing but fact so we'll make it a permanent fixture on our website if you want to start a war between the two companies by continuing to claim the photos are yours. Our latest gadget photos are already being sent out and we will have a big update on our site in just another day or two. This will likely attract hundreds of thousands of people to our site in addition to all of the TV viewers from another one of our other promotions. You decide what's more important to you, saving face by removing our products and admitting wrongdoing or having a lot of people read about how you poorly photoshop other company's products for your own gain.

We will remove the posting when you remove all of our product photos. So if you don't want this to spread, you should remove our products immediately. If you make it a game of cat and mouse in the future where we have to keep tabs on your products to make sure they are not our own being rebranded, I'll make the fraud warning a permanent fixture on our site. You should apologize as well for the annoyances you've caused our staff. The amount of trouble you've caused in the past few days will make any sort of legal wrangling fairly cut and dry for us in the U.S. And don't think we'll forget about this as we expand our operations into the U.K. in the future. Let us know what you decide and good luck with any defamation lawsuit.

Alex Wiley
(owner)
Computer Choppers

Having come to his senses and acknowledging the service mark, Stuart Hughes responds a few minutes later:

The page will be removed shortly, now remove your post from your website.

-Stuart

After exposing Stuart, he finally removes the photoshopped Supreme Ice Macbook Air images from his website. We then remove the fraud warning from ours and replace it with an explanation of the events. Apparently not liking the explanation, Mr. Hughes writes us again complaining that it still exposes his company (4/1/10):

Alex,

You mentioned in an earlier email you didn’t wish to play games. We removed the product, you have replaced your post with an equally damaging statement. We do not, never had and never will scam a client, so you have no right to claim such a thing. So before any games are played remove the statement today – I really don’t see how game-playing will benefit you.

-Stuart

We explain to him that customers should know what's going on and the problems he's causing for our staff more than warrant an explanation on our site about the shady business practices Goldstriker and Stuart Hughes employ. And without a reply, a few hours later, the fake Supreme Ice Macbook Air laptop (actually our custom 24kt Gold Macbook Air laptop) photos are back on the Stuart Hughes and Goldstriker websites but this time with our service mark deleted entirely and a whole slew of various photoshopped color schemes (4/29/2010). This includes the equally fake "Supreme Fire" Macbook Air and "Macbook Air Russia." As you can probably see with the Macbook Air Russia, they're simply running out of options to photoshop our custom laptop.

We have a feeling they'll be coming soon for quite a while because they now need to figure out just how we made them.

So that brings everyone up to speed as to how Goldstriker and Stuart Hughes create their products; theft, photoshop, and scamming media outlets and their customers with their fake product offerings. If you are a potential customer, we'd suggest doing a lot more research before taking the plunge for any high end luxury computer or gadget. Especially from a company like these two, willing to sink this low for some promotion.

It's unfortunate that Stuart and Katherine Hughes approve of ripping off our products and the service marks so as to pretend they can build a custom laptop like ours. What's worse is the potential to rip off a customer. Even in the face of so much evidence against them, they continue listing the "Supreme Ice Macbook Air" and "Supreme Fire Macbook Air" and also photos of our 24kt Gold Macbook Air (sans our service mark). This doesn't surprise us. In 2008 it took almost two months to get them to stop stealing our images of the first ever 24kt Gold Macbook Pro Santa Rosa directly from our website.

If anyone wants more evidence of the fraud, we suggest you contact them and request high resolution raw images (un-edited). When they produce photos of our 24kt Gold Macbook Air, you'll see exactly what we mean. And that goes for almost any product from them, always request high resolution un-edited photos under correct lighting so you know the product you order isn't a photoshopped creation. You may very well end up with something entirely different than what is shown. Having seen the antics from Mr. Hughes recently, we would wonder if you ever receive a product at all.

This is unfortunately the dark side of the luxury electronics industry. Two very shady businesses in Goldstriker and Stuarthughes that believe the way to success is lying, ripping off other companies, photoshopping fake features, and possibly scamming someone out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Buyer beware. We hope they've got a great explanation for their customers about the fake Supreme Ice Macbook Air and other plated Macbook Air's but we tend to think they'll avoid talking about it directly. They're more concerned about hiding any trace of our service marks from more images of our 24kt Gold Macbook Air now that they've been caught.

If anyone has any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to call or email us at any time.

Sincerely,

-The Computer Choppers Team

 

 

 
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