Whatever happened to ThisIsBlythe?
How the site that started it all became big pile of scam
Any newcomer to the Blythe doll hobby is likely to stumble across thisisblythe(dot)com. Sadly, it’s now nothing more than a scammy site that sells knock-off dolls for an eye-watering markup. You can easily get the same fake Blythe dolls on eBay or AliExpress for a fraction of what they charge.
The worst part is that the knock-off dolls are only the tip of the iceberg. They also steal images of one of a kind artist Blythe customisations and “sell” them for a huge markup. Only they not only don’t have those dolls in stock, they also have no way of getting most of those dolls in stock. So any customer putting their money down on those is going to be disappointed to the tune of hundreds of dollars. Bleak.
But this wasn’t always the case.
Back in the early 2000s this site was owned by the one and only Gina Garan. Gina Garan was responsible for Blythe’s resurgence after her photography books This Is Blythe and Blythe Style re-invigorated interested in Blythe among doll collectors.
I won’t go into the history of Blythe here because many others have already done a much better job than me already. I’m here to talk about how THE site for all things Blythe ended up as nothing more than a tacky site shilling counterfeit goods.
Long story short, thisisblythe(dot)com and Gina Garan were victims of domain sniping.
Domain sniping is a practice where someone waits for the registration of a domain they want to lapse, and quickly registers it to themselves before the original owner can re-register it. Before 2013 it was a common way for people in the know to make a quick buck by extorting the original owner for money to hand the domain back, or gain internet clout by grabbing well-known domains under the noses of the large and powerful companies that owned them. Some people actually made a living just from sniping domains from their rightful owners.
Thankfully, after 2013 domain registrars had to comply with the ICANN rules that gave original domain owners a 30 day redemption period after their registration lapses, as well as reminders about domains due to expire. But that was too late for thisisblythe(dot)com.
At some point before 2013 the domain registration for thisisblythe(dot)com very briefly lapsed. But before Gina Garan could finish renewing her registration, the snipers had already stolen the domain out from under her. Sadly, there was no way for her to get the domain back, and it’s been under the control of these sleezy con-artists ever since.
But who are these domain snipers?
Well, that’s a whole can of worms I’ve had a lot of fun opening.
Firstly, it’s important to note that none of the business information provided by the site is real. It’s also not possible to look at the domain registration to find out who the domain owners are as they’ve used a domain proxy service to register with the domain registrar GoDaddy in order to hide their real identity.
The site now claims to be run by a “Jenna Anderson”. Jenna Anderson used to show up on the thisisblythe site looking like this:
[I used to have the stock photo for the fake Jenna Anderson identity here but the thisisblythe scammers sent a malicious DMCA takedown against this photo that they literally stole from elsewhere and Medium’s only solution for me was to issue a counter-notice which requires me to send my personal information to these literal con-artists. They were also really rude when I asked whether there was a way for me to counter-notice without sending my information to these scammers. So, basically, Medium customer support SUCKS.
If you want to find the image here is a link to the place they stole it from.]
But if you do a reverse Google image search with this photo you will quickly discover that she’s usually known as Veronica Wright. This is because this woman’s image is used in some kind of site building template, used by many other businesses that have either not bothered to swap out the template faces and names, or are similarly scammy sites trying to make themselves look more legit by pretending they have a fancy looking business team. Here are some examples of other sites using this image:
Either Jenna is the world’s most prolific yet low-key entrepreneur, or Jenna smells of scam.
Next we get to have fun looking at the addressses given by the website as contact information, but also used to verify the website as a “trusted site” with sites like TrustPilot, trusted.com, and DMCA.com. These were a trip.
[I used to have a screenshot of the address here but the thisisblythe scammers sent a malicious DMCA takedown against this information that’s literally not coprightable and Medium’s only solution for me was to issue a counter-notice which requires me to send my personal information to these literal con-artists. They were also really rude when I asked whether there was a way for me to counter-notice without sending my information to these scammers. So, basically, Medium customer support SUCKS.
If you want to view their current business address without giving their scam site clicks it doesn’t deserve you can find that information here.]
The first address given for “Operations” just straight up does not exist. Google it. You’ll find that Thompson Avenue only goes from 3000–3291.
The second address does exist, but it doesn’t look like the business location of the marketing department of the “largest Blythe doll provider in the world” as they claim. Instead it looks like a residential block of flats…
I even looked up who owned the building and discovered you can take guided tours of the inside which is made up of run of the mill but quite nicely furnished flats.
I’d joke that maybe their marketing department is working from home in these trying times, but they’ve had this address associated with the site since well before the pandemic. Though trawling through the site on The Wayback Machine did turn up this gem from 2019:
Another weird thing about this address is that it’s exactly the same as this the one given by a branding website called Anchor Branding.
The phone number for this business is actually registered against a different address in British Columbia which also happens to be based in a building that looks suspiciously like a residential block of flats…
“But what about the thisisblythe phone number?” You probably didn’t ask.
So, if you trawl through The Wayback machine you find two phone numbers associated with the site. The one above, and the original one they used to give:
This older phone number straight up doesn’t exist. It’s not registered anywhere and it’s not associated with anyone anymore. It could possibly have been a phone number for that address in the past though as 250 is a possible area code for some parts of Vancouver, but so is 778 so it’s likely this phone number may never have worked.
The current phone number on the other hand, doesn’t even have a Canadian area code. It also doesn’t have a Californian area code. It’s actually an area code for Suffolk County, New York that’s associated with 2 different people. Neither of whom is called Jenna Anderson.
The first person is based in Illinois and the second person isn’t associated with a particular location because they are using it as a VoIP number. This means it’s a number that’s used digitally over the internet rather than over traditional phone networks. The info on these people was so random I’m not going to give any details about them here in case they’re just victims of a random phone number generator that spat out a real phone number. I’ve seen that happen before at work with email addresses and it was very awkward for all involved. Suffice to say, another completely predicatable dead end.
I think the most impressive but depressing thing about this journey was coming across all the spammy backlinks for thisisblythe(dot)com that are littering the internet now. From as far back as 2015 the scammers have been creating random backlinks to their site wherever they could get away with it using various aliases. The funniest one being this one:
The fake name used for the user posting this listing literally translates to “Music Box” in Chinese because I guess Jenna couldn’t be bothered to think of a better alias that day. Made me giggle anyway.
But why care about backlinks? Well, if you know much about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) hacking you’ll know why. They’ve littered the internet with crappy spam links wherever they could leave them because search engine bots, crawlers and algorithms are as dumb as the instructions they are given.
The idea is that the more a site is referenced by other sites on the internet, the more relevant to the user that site must be. I mean, why else would so many people keep referencing the same site across the internet? Except it’s not that hard for unscrupulous crooks to farm up those backlinks to boost their SEO ranks by leaving spam comments, registering dummy accounts, and finding many other ways to spam up the internet with totally irrelevant backlinks that an algorithm will have a hard time figuring out. Because it’s only a bunch of code afterall, it can’t tell the difference.
So that’s all I have for now on this horrible, lying, bad bad scam site that is deliberately setup to prey on new Blythe collectors not yet in the know.
I’ve tried reporting them to their domain hosting providers (GoDaddy), Hasbro directly (I was told the information would be forwarded to their legal team and never heard anything else), TrustPilot (I was told they were looking into it but nothing else since), TrustedSite (nothing happened), and I’ve also reported their Instagram page as impersonating the Junie Moon account because Instagram doesn’t give an option to report an account as lying scamsters. So far, nothing. So I hope that this run down will at least help others getting into the hobby by giving them the full tea on the present day thisisblythe(dot)com website. Avoid it at all costs!