Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Service Dog Scammer Now Selling Poison Mugs

With sunglasses and hat, JJ Resnick is as anonymous as the Unabomber.

Back in 2014 I wrote a post about The "Emotional Support Animal" Scam which was prompted by a ridiculous email and videos sent out under the email address of one "JJ Resnick".

I wrote:

Who is this fellow?

I looked around both web sites and noticed a conspicuous lack of story detailing who Mr. Resnick is, or why he started his company.

Hmmm.

In the Frequently Asked Questions section of the web site I found a series of thunderingly stupid videos in which someone by the name of "Tyson Caves" prattles on about things he clearly knows very little about. He is described as a "Balance Dog Handler". What does that even mean? Is this guy supposed to be a dog trainer? Watching the videos, I seriously doubted it!

To make a long story short, JJ Resnick appeared to be a bit of a slippery fellow.

It appears JJ Resnick is this young fellow (link), who lost a $1.1 million claimed-damages lawsuit in Oregon after being manhandled by local police on Mardi Gras. He told the jury he was just on the verge of becoming a golf pro and now he was so disabled this was no longer possible. A good story. The jury did not buy it.

So what's Mr. Resnick doing now? Apparantly he sells insurance leads and has something to do with this company (link) that is engaged in multilevel or "network" marketing, which is more commonly known as a pyramid scheme.

Right.

I thought no more of it until I got an email in March of 2016 from JJ Resnick. He was blind emailing people again.

Hi,

As soon as I saw your page, I knew your audience would probably love these breed specific t-shirts and wondered if you'd be willing to share them with your followers.

I run a company called BreedsTees.com a site dedicated to bringing high-quality apparel for all dog breeds showing off the best traits of each specific breed. Some of our gear includes coffee mugs, phone cases, and T-shirts. We have been growing like crazy lately online and the dog community is really starting to welcome us but at the same time we are also still so young and there are so many people out there who've never heard of us which is why I'm introducing myself.

I don't usually reach out personally but we are looking to create strong relationships with prominent members of the dog owner community, so if there is anything that you think we can do for you, please let me know.

Furthermore, if you think there are other breeds that you or your audience would like to see, let us know!

Sincerely,

JJ Resnick
BreedsTees.com

Seriously?

I did not answer. Time is valuable, and fly-by-night folks are like roaches -- there's simply not enough spray. Next!

Then in September of that same year, I got this email:

Hello Mr. Burns,

We've never officially been introduced and I would like to change that. You wrote a story about me on your terrierman blog which I ignored for years but feel it's time for you to know the truth. In fact, I would love to have an open call/discussion with you regarding everything you wrote about if you would be open to that. I think you will be very surprised to say the least...

I think the first and most important thing to start with is that I did not write you that email that you have up on your site and are sharing on your blog. However, we did have a Ms Allen at the company so I'm assuming it came from her. It's also important that you know I removed myself from that company as soon as I began seeing how many unsavory and unethical people were taking advantage of the current system and the ADA.

I started that business purely out of passion. Two of my best friends had come back from overseas as injured war vets. I personally witnessed them not being able to go get their morning coffee anymore without being hassled or embarrassed by shop clerks telling them to "get out with that dog. You're not blind!" Ridiculous stuff.

You can imagine how this would make me feel watching this as a bystander. Especially after knowing what they did to serve our country! It made me so sad and furious at the same time.

I could go on and on but I'll wait until we talk to share more. To prove that I did not get into this business for the money, I am no longer involved and haven't been in awhile. Even though that site continues to get more and more popular and to do better and better it was not fulfilling the purpose or the intention that I started it for so I exited and relaunched a family business of mine that my great grandmother started years ago.

I do things in life because I'm a passionate person and truly believe if you are a good person and do things that you believe in things will all come around and that's all life is about. If you would take the time to get to know me you would see that too.

I sincerely hope you receive this message and will have an open mind to discuss things further.

Please let me know a good time for you to talk.

Cheers,

JJ Resnick
Moscow Copper Co
web | moscowcopper.com


I started to reply, thought better of it, researched his current enterprise, started to write a post about that, thought better of it, and then moved on.

There's not enough bug spray. Play forward.  It's not my job to save the world.

Then, this morning, I got a note from someone investigating JJ Resnick's Moscow Mule story. It seems I was not alone in smelling a scam. This person sounded like she might write a piece, but since I had already done the research, I figured I might roll it out. So here it goes....

What's the Moscow Mule story?

In 2014 or so, JJ Resnick decided to start another company with an... (how shall I put this?) interesting back story.

According to him, his grandmother, one "Sophie Berezinski"

... had immigrated to the United States from Russia and was carrying a heavy burden: 2,000 solid copper mugs. Sophie’s father owned and operated a copper factory in Russia known as the Moscow Copper Co. Back in Russia, Sophie had created the design for the original copper mug that is now so famously linked to the Moscow Mule cocktail. Her father ran the presses that stamped out 
the mugs.The one tool both Sophie and her father lacked was the slick skills of a salesman. Neither Sophie nor her father were able to sell the mugs in Russia, so the decision was made that Sophie and the mugs would journey to America. After all, it was well known that America was the land of opportunity. However, after some time, the mugs seemed destined for the scrap heap in America too. Sophie’s husband Max was tired of the copper mugs cluttering the house, and issued her an ultimatum: “Find a buyer for the mugs or I’m tossing them.”

Sophie couldn’t bear to see the solid copper mugs she had designed and manufactured with her father end up in a landfill. She began desperately seeking out a buyer, walking door to door in Hollywood in search of a restaurant or lounge owner interested in the mugs. During one of her long days in search of a buyer for the mugs, fate intervened at the famous Cock ‘n’ Bull pub on the Sunset Strip….

A terrific story, but one without too much credible history attached to it.

In fact, it falls apart on first inspection.

Who packs 2,000 solid copper mugs that are worthless in Russia in order to hump them off to the other side of the world in order to try to sell to an unknown market?

And how does a Russian civilian in 1939-41 even have access to that much copper?

Writing in 1925, Joseph Stalin noted that “we need, finally, to organize our copper foundries … to improve our military industry, because without that they will beat us with their bare hands.”

Stalin nationalized military-essential industries -- including copper mines and factories -- in 1927 and set fantastic military production goals. As Matthew Plunkett notes over on the "War on the Rocks" web site,

When the consequence of a missed quota might involve death or a stay in a distant gulag, it hardly seems the ideal 'startup' environment for a budding capitalist with a dream of selling copper drinkware.

Bingo.

Then, there's the fact that the history of the Moscow Mule is actually known and well-documented,  Though the history of this drink is not completely consistent across all tellings, one aspect is: There is no Sophie Berezinski in this story.

In fact, one of the people who WAS there says that the person with the copper mugs in the story was the girlfriend of the other co-creator, and she was of German origin (not Russian), and her name was Ozaline Schmidt.

John Martin, the president and owner of Smirnoff, and who was actually there the day the "Moscow Mule" was created, tells the story himself in the video, below:





There's a bit more to the story.  


In 1948, John Martin acquired a Polaroid camera, a new invention for taking instant pictures. Vodka was not selling, and so Martin had an idea: He would use the novelty of the "instant photo" to take two pictures of barmen holding a bottle of Smirnoff Vodka in one hand, and a very distinctive copper "Moscow Mule" mug in the other -- proof to other bartenders that his competitors were sellig it and buying the fixings directly from him. Martin would take two pictures, leaving one in the bar as a novelty for the barkeep to show customers ("An instant picture, can you imagine?"), while he would take the second picture down the street to show the competitors.  It was pure marketing genius.  And it also had nothing to do with Sophie Berezinski.

John Martin died in 1986 in Naples, Florida at the age of 80, and Jack Morgan died in 1974. The name "Sophie Berezinski" appears nowhere, so far as I can tell.  In fact, her name appears to have been attached to this story only because JJ Resnick keeps spinning his yarn to every gullible (and lazy) food and booze writer he can find.

Over at RippOff Report one Mark Larson wrote in to say:

I have direct ties to the Smirnoff Company so I wanted to look into this further. My affiliation with Smirnoff allows me to speak with authority regarding the truth about the origination of the Moscow Mule and related issues.

From what we can see the company is owned by Mr. JJ Resnick out of Santa Barbara, CA.

It appears Moscow Copper Co. crafted a misleading story / press release full of fallacies in order to dupe the media into providing free publicity.

Moscow Copper Co. made up this outrageous story claiming his grandmother Sophie Berezinski was the original creator of the Moscow Mule Mug and drink. Our research shows Sophie Berezinski had nothing to do with it.

Our research show there was no single” mug that was created for the Moscow Mule drink.

There were several different styles and sizes of mugs with none of them being the “Original” as Moscow Copper Claims theirs is.

We can’t find a single article, blog post, facebook comment or any reference point at all of Sophie Berezinski or her grandson JJ Resnick being involved in this industry prior to 2014 when Moscow Copper Co was born.

There story appears completely made up and there are no facts or content to back it up in an attempt of obtaining free publicity as previously stated.

We show it’s just a clever marketing stunt in order to trick the media and other businesses into free publicity… a classic marketing scam unscrupulous businesses use in order to obtain free advertising.

Our research shows Moscow Copper Co. (owned by JJ Resnick) was recently created less than two years ago and has no ties to the industry as claimed.

It appears Moscow Copper Co. published this misleading press release that gained the attention of several large businesses and media outlets, including Food and Wine Magazine and others.

Unfortunately, Food and Wine Magazine and others have taken the bait and fallen for this scam. They have posted articles giving Moscow Copper Co. free publicity and praise for being the inventor when they are not.

I also learned Smirnoff is looking into Moscow’s “story” as well and may file a lawsuit pending their own internal investigation.

Ouch.

For the record, Mr. Larsen is the retired President of Diageo, which OWNS Smirnoff, so he might know a few things about booze in general, and this Smirnoff-vodka based drink in particular.

Double ouch.

Not said by anyone: the copper mugs associated with the Moscow Mule do absolutely nothing for the drink which, in fact, was (and still is) mostly sold in glasses or glass-lined mugs.

The copper mug was -- and remains -- a marketing gimmick.

Over on Amazon, JJ Resnick is selling his version of a copper "Moscow Mule" mug for $49.

Wow!  Some price!

A warning:  this mug is not made in America
, and Mr. Resnick is a little dodgy as to where it is really made, noting that "We source all of our copper from India and Turkey, where the best copper in the world is. We package and ship out all of our product at our headquarters in Santa Barbara, CA".

In fact the "Moscow Copper Co" is a trademark of the Montecito Supply Co (which Resnick owns) which seems to import a single product from China's Qingdao Sunlit International Trade. Resnick says the copper is mined from "Turkey, Mexico, and India" but who cares where it's mined?  If the factory making the mugs is actually in China, where pot metal is a way of life, I have some concerns.

Over on Amazon, JJ Resnick and his company write that:

Weighing in at almost ½ lb, our mugs are handmade WITHOUT a lacquered finish or tin lining. The 100% food grade copper construction keeps your Mules colder while the welded heavy gauge handles give you a firm hold on your mule. BEWARE of imitation mugs lined with tin or steel as they are merely coated with copper and steer clear of RIVETED handles as they house bacteria over time.

Right.

In fact, you might want to steer clear of any Moscow Mule copper mug that is not lined or coated, as it could very well be poisonous.  And if it's pure copper and not coated (as Mr. Resnick claims), it is certainly toxic if being used for a Moscow Mule which has a pH below 6/0.

The Des Moines Register notes the FDA and the states are warning folks away from pure copper Mosow Mule mugs such as Mr. Resnick is selling:

Copper Mugs Could Poison Your Moscow Mules


In a news bulletin, the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division announced that the state has adopted the federal FDA code that "prohibits copper from coming into direct contact with foods that have a pH below 6.0."

High concentrations of copper are poisonous and have caused foodborne illness.

The pH of a traditional Moscow Mule is well below 6.0, the bulletin stated, implying that copper mugs with a copper interior can't be used. Other beverages below a 6.0 reading include fruit juice, vinegar and wine.

"However, copper mugs lined on the interior with another metal, such as nickel or stainless steel, are allowed to be used and are widely available," the bulletin said.

Right.

So the product that Mr. JJ Resnick is selling
for $49 a unit is (according to his description and the federal FDA) actually toxic and poisonous to his customers if it used for its intended purpose.

And, to put a cherry on top, Mr. Resnick's web site specifically says that you want a low pH Moscow Mule!

Wow!  How is this thing even being sold on Amazon??

My advice?  Get your Moscow mugs at Target for one-fifth the price. Tell them Terrierman sent you.

1 comment:

tuffy said...

good reporting. bad scamming.

i only want to add another potential reference source you may not know about:
Linda Himelstein, an investigative journalist, wrote a very carefully researched book some years ago about the Smirnoff family and their vodka called ''The King of Vodka: The Story of Pyotr Smirnov and the Upheaval of an Empire''.

it was a very interesting and well-researched read, and there was no mention of this Sophie B..