PaintedFigs.com Scam

You May Have Been Caught In 
The PaintedFigs Financial Scam. 
Miniatures Unpainted, Or Are Owed Money
Learn The Truth Here...

Updated:

Read the 2013 update on the PaintedFigs Scam at 

DakkaDakka PaintedFigs Avoid

Navin Weeraratne the owner of PaintedFigs.com gave an interview a few years back to Raef Granger, formally of The D6 Generation, where he outlined the problems with PaintedFigs are nothing to do with him but because a conman ran off and stole all the cash.

I am M.E. Shenny, I have an interest in gaming and am a journalist, so I decided to do a little investigation into the claims made by Navin Weeraratne in his interview. 

What I discovered about Paintedfigs.com was incredible. Ranging from Navin Weeraratne assaulting Paintedfigs staff, how his miniature suppliers, The Warstore and every client unwittingly help Navin facilitate money laundering and tax evasion, through to how Navin admits he was only interested in making easy money and has long since lost interest in running Paintedfigs.com.

Read below the interview with Paul Burns the guy Navin Weeraratne accused of stealing all Paintedfigs cash. Navin Weeraratne refused a live interview, so his answers are from emails he sent, apologies for some of the bad language he uses.

NOTE FROM PAUL ABOUT PAINTEDFIGS.COM:

I worked at Painted Figs from April 2010 and was commissioned to build and manage a number of websites and email accounts in return for a fee. In early 2011 Navin Weearatne, the owner, decided he wanted to keep the money he was paying me for himself, thanked me for my work, even pointing out how good it was and then terminated my contract. I never chased the outstanding money he owed me, but explained that as per our agreement considering he hadn’t paid for some of the newer sites he couldn’t therefore have them. For me that was the end of the matter. 

Subsequently Navin Weearatne realised he wasn’t as competent as he thought at implementing the marketing plan and his cashflow dried up. So he decided to invent the story that I stole his money and then he expanded this lie. Even blaming me for the poor performance of his painting service, namely slow turn around times and painting quality that is average at best. Apparently I even managed to impact on Painted Figs performance before I worked at the company and long since after I left.

I privately gave Navin Weearatne the opportunity to apologise for his libel/slander and pointed out that as he had brought this into the public domain and published my name and email address that if he did not apologise I would talk to a journalist to set the record straight and publish my subsequent interview online. In which, I would detail all the emails Navin Weearatne sent me during my time at the company, proving that what Navin Weearatne was saying was nonsense and a lot more besides. 

Navin Weearatne did not apologise and continued to slander/libel me for all the issues of his company. So I published my interview below...

The PaintedFigs Scam Interview

Paul, were you a venture capitalist who stole Paintedfigs.com money?
Paul: NO! There was no venture capitalist at Paintedfigs, its a family funded business. The only money I new got stolen was about $3000, not $30,000 and the monies I recieved were transfered to me by Navin. I had no direct access to the bank account. I only found out any money got stolen, and it certainly wasn't me who stole it, from an email Navin sent me in January 2011 and he didn't seem all that bothered.

Navin Weeraratne: Someone in Ireland ran up about $2700 on my card in jewellery, over in Ireland. Bank of America locked the card. I asked if I was going to get my money back and the person who answered said yes and not to worry.

On account of us getting frauded out of 3k, I could only wire over 4k (MES: to Pauls bank). I had to wire another 4k to us in Sri Lanka.

I'm not all THAT worried because:
- it was the bank's own software that figured that shit and locked my card and sent out the alert.
- I called immediately after I got the notification to say it wasn't me.

So I'm guessing if the bank's own software cries foul, they are likely to decide in my favor. Also, they totally sorted things out with HSBC (MES: Pauls bank account) and even put the money back in the account before they had got the issue resolved, so I must be hitting some sort of VIP / favored client threshold due the Paintedfigs.com volumes going through.

BoA mailed a new debit card to Lucas, who mailed it over to me. Till then, we couldn't access the US / Paypal money coming in.

BoA sorted out the fraud quickly and restored the money that was robbed.

Who is Lucas?
Paul: Navin launders the full cash payment from clients through the United States, its illegal to make payments through Paypal direct to Sri Lanka, so Navin told Paypal he actually lives in the United States, not Sri Lanka.

If you check out the invoices they are in Navins personal name and say he is based in Illinois. Infact that is a friend of his address, Lucas Como, who is paid a fee to launder the money for Navin. It also enables Navin to not declare the money in either the US or Sri Lanka and so avoid paying tax. He actually kept a record in the accounts! (which you can download below)

Lucas Como:  Did not respond.


M.E.Shenny: I checked this out myself by posing as a Paintedfigs customer and below is the Paintedfigs.com invoice Navin Weeraratne sent me on February 9 2012, that does indeed say Navin is based in Illinois USA.


Navin Weeraratne Invoice: 


 

When you saw Paintedfigs accounts what did you do when you found out about the money laundering and tax evasion?
Paul: I told both Navin Weeraratne and Lucas Como it was illegal. Thats why they shut the US shipping hub down. And I told them that they would have to set up an offshore business, to legally handle payments and pay tax.

Navin Weeraratne: Set up an offshore company in Singapore and shut the US shipping hub.

Did Paintedfigs.com restructure legally?
Paul: Initially yes, thats why they shut down the US shipping hub and Navin also set up an offshore company in Singapore  to handle payments and deal direct with suppliers. This made everything totally legal. But as you can see it appears Navin has chosen to revert back to his old illegal ways since I left, as its cheaper and means he doesnt have to pay any tax.

Navin Weeraratne: The Singapore transaction fees are (currently) 3.4% + 50 Singapore cents. The Singapore Paypal to US Paypal transaction fees for a "personal transfer" are 1%.

So what did you actually do at Paintedfigs.com?
Paul: I was asked to build websites, boost online sales and help restructure the company and make it prfoitable. You can see from the accounts I did this.

Navin Weerartne:  

---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------

Subject: Paul Burns Navin Paintedfigs.com Agreeement

From:    "Navin Weeraratne" <pnweerar@gmail.com>

Date:    Mon, March 22, 2010 9:18 pm

To:      paul@vb-investment-group.co.uk

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yo,

I just changed the title of the email a bit to make it easier to find in a gmail search.

Yep, I'm onboard with everything.

Stage 6 by mid May sounds like Christmas to me!

Thanks for everything,

N

 

On Mon, Mar 22, 2010 at 10:39 PM, <paul@vb-investment-group.co.uk> wrote:

Hi,

Thanks for your time earlier.

Irrelevant of whether it was me or not I think you have made the correct decsion in realising you have to start investing in sales and not just production all the time in order to move paintedfigs.com forward.

As is my way I think it is always good to avoid confusion from the outset and have a broad basis agreement by email that in moments of any disagreement we can refer back to.

So...

You agreed to implement the following 10 step action plan:

Short Term - Fixing

1. Organise management

2. Set up manual systems

3. Website

4. Refine existing adwords campaign

Medium Term - Ongoing

5. Track campaigns

6. Tweak campaigns/website

7. Set up new adwords campaigns

8. Set up Google contextual campaigns

Long Term - Scaling

9. Automate systems / website

10. Look to non google sales sources

I will act as a consultant in implementing the above action plan, specifically in respect of sales, over a 3 year period for a base rate of $750 per month (a contract value of $27,000), commencing April 1.

In return I will spend 1 day per month to take you to stage 6 on the action plan, (if it takes me longer I will do so at my own expense). With an as yet to be agreed additional payment for stages 7-10.

You, as part of stage 1 will free up some of your time to be able to help me in this and also handle the financial management of the company, in addition to your role as CEO.

I think it would be ideal if we can have designed the stage 2 systems spreadsheets before I start on 1 April. That way I can start with that in place.

We can design produce the spreadsheets over the course of the next couple of weeks to enable that. I will bounce my ideas over in the next few days.

My aim will be to have you at stage 6 by mid May. Marrying up with my expected arrival in Sri Lanka on circa 15th May.

Please just email me confirmation back if you agree with the above.

Regards

Paul

Was Paintedfigs in financial trouble when you started working?
Paul: Yes, you can see for yourself they were from downloading (below) the accounts I provided, from the year I was there. They were running out of money in March 2010 and so when I started in April 2010, I defered my first months payment. 

I was also asked to help Navin restructure the business to make it profitable. Which as you can see from the accounts in the time I was there, April - November 2010 it was. With the year ending 2010 having over $16,000 net profit after I, Navin and everyone else had been paid. There were dips in August and December as I was on holiday those months. Nevertheless Paintedfigs was a profitable company by the end of 2010.

Incidentally when I first arrived Paintedfigs.com had no accounts. When I asked Navin why, he said because he was not told to keep any! He went to Harvard business school and claims he never knew he needed to keep accounts. Either something is wrong at Harvard or Navin had something to hide. As I was later going to find out, there is nothing wrong with Harvard!

Navin Weeraratne: Did not respond.

But weren't Paintedfigs endorsed by the D6 Generation?
Paul:
Well they paid for adverts!

Raef Granger:
Did not respond.

Navin Weeraratne: I've had several emails from people saying that they thought we (MES:Paintedfigs) were scammers, but since we were supported by the D6 Generation, they stayed the course to see what would happen. I want to pay the D6 for the $80 ad for the next couple of months at least, as this rubber stamp of legitimacy has saved our ass. I want to do this in addition to the $30 banner, and once our image is less damaged, we can get out of the $80 ad. 

Paintedfigs.com/news says they were the official distributor for Games Workshop, Mantic and Warlord miniatures, is that true?


Paul: Yes, I negotiated those distribution deals, but shortly afterwards Navin decided he didn't want to deal directly with them any longer. He felt its cheaper to bribe customs officials and avoid paying import duty. If Navin imported miniatures legally, Paintedfigs prices would be uncompetitive.

Navin Weeraratne: Games Workshop froze our account. We cannot do business with people who may take a large amount of my money, and then not give me anything, or may simply decide they don't want to supply us for any reason, or who waste our time with constant emails.

It's cheaper, faster, and easier to buy from the US. The UK just cannot compete on shipping. 

Also, there are incorrect items that GW sent us -- with Neal (at the warstore.com), I simply say "we did not get x but were charged for it," and he takes care of things on the next shipment, no problem. I really don't see Games Workshop giving us that sort of attention to things like that which actually matter.

I want to switch back to the warstore, GW and IMD (MES: UK freight forwarders) have wasted enough of my time and money.

When the minis finally get here, I appease all the affected customers by blaming Games Workshop and the freight forwarders.

Are Paintedfigs now getting their miniatures from the Warstore?
Paul: Yes. The Warstore http://www.thewarstore.com/

Navin Weeraratne: Neal (MES: at thewarstore) is breaking everyone's rules by supplying us at all. He would catch a lot of shit if it got out that he was supplying Paintedfigs.

TheWarstore.com: Did not respond.

You say Paintedfigs.com bribes customs officials and illegally imports miniatures?
Paul:
Yes, he calls it clearing charges though, because its cheaper to bribe a corrupt Sri Lanka post office employee than pay the legal import duty and use a courior service! As part of the distribution agreements with Games Workshop, Mantic and Warlord, they wanted to ship to Sri Lanka via a legitimate courier such as DHL. It appears Paintedfigs entire business model is now built upon illegal imports and fabricating reasons for delays to clients.

By getting both clients and suppliers to ship this way rather than using a courier service Navin is able to funnel all shipments to his corrupt post office insider and declare a lower customs value than the actual one, thus enabling him to avoid paying import duties. This way every client and supplier inadvertantly actually facilitates Navins tax evasion. So if you use Paintedfigs.com you help money laundering and tax evasion.

Navin Weeraratne: Neal (MES: at thewarstore.com) declared whatever customs value we liked.

We have been having a persistent problem with people nagging us about clearing. If we tell them that their minis have arrived "in the country" and that we will be starting on them once they are up in the queue, they calm down and do not pressure us to clear -- which they may see as a real problem / delay, rather than a shelf we rent space on as we see it.

I then write to customers and tell them that their minis have "arrived safely in Sri Lanka," and that we will be starting on them "when they move up in the queue." This helps us delink paying clearing fees, from satisfying clients that their minis are safe (they are safer at customs than they are in the studio).

TheWarstore.com: Did not respond.

M.E.Shenny: I checked this out myself by posing as a Paintedfigs customer and below is Navins reply...

Navin Weeraratne: We can return ship by DHL, no problem. We would ask that you do not ship to us by DHL though, as express courier packages get held up for much longer, airport customs charges outrageously high clearing fees, and DHL's clearing people are super annoying to work with (they will largely do nothing, and we will end up getting blamed). 

If you could send them instead by regular registered mail (USPS, Royal Mail) that would be so much better. They will come to customs here in Colombo, and we can have our own clearing agents work with them to get the package delivered quickly and easily, and at no additional cost.

DHL: We cannot compete with the prices Paintedfigs.com is offering for shipping to Sri Lanka after you take into account import duty which they offer to absorb. We cannot match that!

So by shipping this way both clients and suppliers enable Paintedfigs.com to illegally avoid paying import duty?
Paul: Yes, infact it seems Paintedfigs entire business model is now built upon it, though the site calls it customs clearing charges, its actually bribing a guy at the post office in Sri Lanka and declaring a lower customs value, to avoid paying the correct duty. Their pricing would not be competitive otherwise if you include painting costs, shipping and import duty they would be considerably more expensive than their competitors.

Navin Weeraratne: Did not respond but this is what it says on paintedfigs.com/faq/shipping.

So what went wrong with Paintedfigs.com at the end of 2010?
Paul: From before I arrived there had always been problems with production. Navin wouldn't manage or train the staff properly, he wouldn't treat them well and if they didn't meet his expectations he would physically and verbally abuse them.

Navin Weeraratne: There are 4 experienced painters left:
- Indika. A good, solid bat. 
- Nishantha. He asked for another week off. We gave it to him.
- Bandula. Was supposed to be back from his operation, which was why we gave Nishantha the week off. He did not have the operation, come to work, or call to tell us any of this.
- Anuruddha. A talented painter who is not interested in applying himself.

I also got the login info from Suzanne and I find several emails that came in have not been answered.

I think client emails have been stalled / fucked around for at least as long
as February (cause we can feel it in February) and perhaps longer.

I called her up and made my feelings quite clear. She has committed to
answering all emails that come in by 8am every morning, and that any replies she gets from me will go out no later than 10:30am the same day.

I am just going to police the account now, cause this is fucking bullshit
and, in the purest sense of the phrase I cannot afford a fuckup in sales
processing. WE ARE IN FUCKING LOCKDOWN, WE HAVE NO FUCKING PAINT, AND WE HAVE TEN PACKAGES TO CLEAR THAT WE ARE IGNORING. And she is sitting on her ass?

I am tempted to just take her job and pay myself the $500.

February, our best sales month, is a bust.

Navin physically and verbally abused his staff?
Paul: Yes. He would even kick the dog if he was in a sufficiently bad mood!

Navin Weeraratne: I get so angry at the march or retardedness, I actually grabbed a builder by the scruff of his shirt.

We cannot fire the builders because two of them are supplying figures to
everyone else. We will need to train new builders, and then fire the old
ones.

So instead, I am now exiling myself from the studio again. I am now just
meeting once a day with Suraj in the mornings to QA painting and brief him
on what needs to be done, and I am leaving the studio for the rest of the
day there after. As long as I don't go to Singapore for a week, things
should work out.

What about the money, looking at the accounts it seemed healthy at the end of 2010?
Paul:
Well you can download the accounts ourself, but Navin got greedy, pulling out money for himself rather than leaving it in the business to enable it to grow. He asked me to take a pay cut so he could give himself a pay rise and then ultimately just stopped paying me and doing the work for customers.

Navin Weeraratne: The accounts don't show a 3K dividend I paid myself and about another 1K I wasted. My goal is 5k a month in my pocket, for not a lot of work. Whatever happens beyond this, I don't care.

What were these microsites, Navin said in his interview you stole from Paintedfigs?
Paul:  I was asked to increase advertising and concentrate on more automated forms of income, through small websites, called microsites. A separate fee for developing them was agreed. Navin did not pay the agreed fee, he said he would like to rearrange the payments, but never did. So he did't get them.

Navin Weeraratne: I know I'm liable for all sorts of fees and damages and shit. How much do I owe? I have no problem paying it, but:
- I want to pay it off at a much smaller monthly amount
- I need a 2-3 months grace period so I can spend my way out of all these
problems that have built up.

So Navin didn't pay you for the microsites he asked you to build?
Paul: No, he didn't and still hasn't paid me what he owed me. Thats why I find it a bit rich that he claims I stole his money when in reality he owes me money, just like he owes many other people money. 

Infact he said part of the condition of his Dad giving him money for the business was if he didn't pay me what he owed me!  Thats why he didn't get the microsites, I didn't steal them, he didn't pay for them.

Navin Weeraratne: As you can imagine, the company is in serious trouble. We are now seriously undercapitalized, I have sought an infusion of funds in order to buy my way out of our present problems.

The conditions upon which I will get these funds are:
- that I take care better care of my staff and my clients
- pay the loan back
- Not be paying Paul and to cut my own wages, until these things are done.

Navin also said there was a problem with this Google Adwords Account?
Paul: Well, in early 2011 as well as not paying me Navin didn't pay the Paintedfigs.com Adwords bill, so the adverts got suspended, which hit income massively. Therefore it was decided to transfer Adwords management out of Google and into my own system, so if the account got closed the data would not be lost. Then Navin stopped paying me, changed the password, so my management system couldn't upload to Adwords anymore. Hence he lost the data. I did tell him but he didn't seem bothered and just told me he wouldn't be paying me for the work I had done.

Navin Weeraratne: Did not respond. (MES: there is an email confirming the stopping of Paintedfigs adwords account).

Dear AdWords Advertiser,

Our attempt to process a payment on Jan 24, 2011 for your outstanding
Google AdWords account balance USD231.81 was declined. Your account is
still open. However, your ads have been suspended until you initiate a
successful payment. Once we are able to process payment for your
account balance, we will re-activate your ads.

Please initiate a payment on the 'Make Payment' page. You can edit your
payment instrument information on this page before making a payment if
necessary.

See instructions for editing your payment information and making a
payment at
https://adwords.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=50324&hl=en_US.

If you haven't already done so, we recommend that you add a backup credit or 
debit card to your account to prevent future declines. Learn how at
https://adwords.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=28857&hl=en_US.


Thank you for advertising with Google AdWords.

Sincerely,

The Google AdWords Team

------------------------
Your AdWords account number: 777-748-6543

What do ou think went wrong with Paintedfigs and will it ever be fixed?
Paul: What went wrong was simply Navin's behaviour in how he runs Paintedfigs and that sees no sign of abating. He is largely unconcerned by the damage he caused his clients and his suppliers, continuing to blame everyone but himself, while continuing with his party lifestyle without a care as you can see from his facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/the.navin

Navins has a disregard for staff, suppliers and clients alike and his refusal to take responsibility for his own actions, mean things will never change unless he does. This is perfectly illustrated in his "it was Harvards fault for not training me properly", to a ficticious venture capitalist conman, me, who stole his money. When in reality his business and money problems are down to his own mismanagement.

There are other painting companies, not only in Sri Lanka, but globally, who have way more painters who manage to scale their painting and run their business legally and profitably, but that takes hard work, something Navin has no interest in doing.

Navin Weeraratne: When I got the idea of Paintedfigs.com, all I wanted was to be able to make 4k a month in my pocket for no real effort. An easy to manage, high margin business that either pays me amply when I take care of things, or has more than enough money for me to throw at problems when I am not taking care of things.

I am really not the man for the task (MES: of owning and running paintedfigs.com)

I really don't have the temperament (MES: for owning and running paintedfigs.com)

I have long since lost interest. 

I am not the person who got up every morning and said "Victory or Death" in the mirror. That was a very different Navin, and I do not want to be him again. When I turned 32 in January I told everyone I was turning 27 again, because I wanted to pick up my life where I had left it as if the past five years (MES:of Paintedfigs.com) had never happened.

For more details please register below so we can email you the actual emails Navin Weeraratne sent and Paintedfigs accounts.