Pawel T. Nowak, a con artist


The Baiting of Con Artist Pawel T. Nowak

from Japan Reference forum - Mandylion, 2003

Pawel Tomasz Nowak

Recently on this thread a man going by the name of Pawel Tomasz Nowak claimed to have a Japanese sword from the 1700痴 to sell for the low, low price of 400 USD.

Knowing this man was a con artist, I locked down the thread and banned him from JREF. However, given the number of fake antiques being sold over the net, and not just swords, I thought I would try and use this opportunity to look at how a con artist works.

What follows is a transcript of all our communications. Following that I will take a more in-depth look at how he tried to con me and his game of subtle misdirection.

Nowak's e-mails are in standard text and mine (or Greg Peterson's) are in italics. My other comments, not sent to Nowak, are in bold. I am limited to 5 pictures per thread so I have had to limit the roughly 20 photos exchanged to a representative few.

Please PM me if you wish to see the whole set. I recommend opening photo links in a new window and adjusting the size so you can look at the photos and read the text when you come to the analysis section. Enjoy !


Hi ! I saw your post about the samurai sword you are selling. I am interested in buying it. Do you have any pics I could see ? Thnxs. Pls e-mail me with the details! - Greg Peterson


Dear Greg, Thank you for your answer. The blade I am talking about I have got from one man, Mr. Milakow from California. That was a few years ago. His grandfather was an American officer who served in the US Army during the WWII on Pacific. He was a POW and after the war, he got the sword from one of the Japanese officers.

The sword has a WWII "wear" but the blade, according to the swordsman is from the first part of the XVIII century. I have a Customer Declaration which prove the that is an antique, genuine Japanese sword. The declaration shows the value of 750$. I am not a collector.

I am an archivist who has an interest in Maritime History. I live in Poland. I am just before my next research trip to Spain and I am looking for the additional funds. So, I could sell it for the fee of $400. If you think you could have any interest in such sword, please let me know. I could also send my ID Passport and references and credentials I have got in Spanish and English archives to show you that I am a honest man. uh huh... Let me know. Kind regards, Pawel Tomasz Nowak


Come on Nowak, those photos were crap. Let's see if the lure of extra cash will get you to work harder for me...

Hi Paul, Yes, I am still interested in the samurai sword. It looks cool. But I feel a little bad if I got it for only 400. I believe in paying fair prices for fair deals and I would want to pay you some extra if you can help me out a bit. Do you have any larger / clearer pictures of the blade?

The flash in your last set makes it hard to make out much detail. I know you must be busy getting ready to go to Spain, but I would feel better about it. I'm really excited about the deal ! I haven't collected any samurai swords yet. I have a few decorative European knights swords I got from a store at the mall, but they aren't real. I'm looking forward to getting my first real sword.

Please send me a better pic when you have a sec and we can talk about a better price - maybe around 500, depending on what I can see in the photo ? Thanks...

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