How I got scammed by chargeback, won the dispute, and actually made unexpected profit!

Early July this year, a lady from United States by the name Kimberly Adams contacted me via email, asking for quotation for creating a new website. Part of the job scopes required me to purchase a software for the website, from a developer who would only accept bitcoin as form of payment.

She admitted that she didn’t know a thing about bitcoin, so she’d rather leave it to someone who does. Me, at the time, had never used bitcoin either. But in all learning spirit, I decided to help and took up the job.

So I sent her the invoice for full cost of the software plus 50% of the fee for putting together the website, totalling at $2,035, which included credit card processing fee. I was that diligent.

She made the payment in the same evening, I waited for 3 days for the transaction to be completed and the funds were sitting in my account. Then I proceeded to acquire the bitcoins needed for the purchase of the software.

To which, I had an unlucky start with bitcoin. The website I was trying to purchase bitcoin from, had some technical issue. The money was sent through, but not registered in the system, so I didn’t receive any bitcoin in return. I spent next 3 weeks, sending email after email to the bitcoin vendor to follow through the mishap (they don’t have phone number). In the mean time, I made it a point to send daily updates to Kimberly to assure her that I was still trying to get hold of the bitcoin and I wasn’t giving up.

Eventually, I decided to spent another $1,000 to purchase bitcoin from another vendor and used it to place the order for the software.

The real nightmare began.

After paying $1,000 worth of bitcoins to the software developer, I didn’t receive any license code nor login info. I started another email chase with the software developer (once again, no phone number!) Though the developer did reply to “assure” me that they will send me the license code soon.

Until several weeks later, I received an email from my credit card processing company (Stripe), that someone had filed a dispute against the charge of $2,035 — the payment that “Kimberly” has made. And of course, I still haven’t receive any license code.

I immediately hit the software developer’s website, as I had expected, the website was gone. Needless to say, my next email to “Kimberly” was bounced back.

I got scammed for the first time, after being in the internet business for 16 years.

Even though $2,035 wasn’t a huge sum of money, the fighting spirit in me wasn’t willing to let this rest. I immediately compiled all my email conversations with “Kimberly” into PDF, together with copy of my invoice, sent to Stripe to contest against the dispute. The date was 18 August 2016.

Day after day, week after week, I logged in to Stripe to check on the dispute status, which showed no progress.

Until 20 minutes ago, an email arrived in my inbox, with the subject line that says “A dispute on charge xxx has been resolved in your favor”!

In case you are already lost, let me sum this up for you: Not only I won the dispute, I got back my money, I had actually profited about $1,000 from it. Remember the 50% I have collected, which I was supposed to build a website for “Kimberly”? Well I hadn’t started any work on it at all, since I was so caught up with bitcoin and the software developer who never delivered.

And, one more thing: The first bitcoin I tried to purchase? I had eventually received 100% of it. So there was no loss in bitcoin department.

I guess this is when people would say: All’s well that ends well, eh?

Footnotes:

  1. The website Kimberly wanted me to build, was meant to be hosted at www.humancapitalventure.com (which is obviously defunct now)
  2. The software I was asked to purchase was from hubstack.io (which apparently, is also defunct now)

42, still not yet a dragon

Early last year, I went to see geomancy master. She asked me if I have had difficult years so far? I said yes. She continued to tell me I was about to enter an even difficult 10-year phase starting from 41.

Today, I’m celebrating my 42nd birthday. Which means to say, 1/10 of the journey down, 9/10 to go! How depressing! Though, this will only work if I chose to believe what she said. Which, can be quite a struggle for me.

My religion forbids me from believing such practices. But I also cannot deny it had indeed been really challenging journey for me. I don’t consider myself very suay. I’m blessed to have married a good wife, who gave birth to two awesome kids. In the department of “Personal life”, I have nothing to complain. But when it comes to everything else, I find myself constantly fighting uphill battles.

Outsiders may think of me as someone who’s having a good life, good job and probably making tonnes of money. But very few would know how much blood an sweat I have to shed, what kind of struggles I have to go through each day just to make the next dollar. In fact, I would do the epic split on top of two Volvo trucks just to make my point!

Though, I’m also a fighter too. A stubborn fighter! So what if there are another nine difficult years to go? Or 19? Or 29? I’ll take them on, one day at a time!

Happy birthday to me!

Wealth

Imagine all of us were born with good deal of wealth. Then our parents continued to take care of our wealth during early years of our life. As we grew older, we slowly learned to manage our own wealth, but instead of working on preserving our wealth, we spent it carelessly. Until we realised we have little wealth left. Then we tried to start cumulating our wealth again, only then we realised we had to put in much more effort to make up what we have lost. It was also when we wished we had done something about it long ago.

Now, replace all the word “wealth” in this post with “health”. See my point now?

Lesson

This story goes back in the days when I was working in an agency.

One day I was tasked to blast out an EDM to database of 130,000 email addresses. Since it was a major blast, I had to do it at midnight while the internet traffic was low (during the days when broadband was still 1mbps).

The marcom director of our client has given the green light to blast out the EDM. While I was doing one final round of checks, I decided to prefix the word: <Promo> to the subject line, thinking that was the right thing to do. Finally I hit the “Send” button.

Half-an-hour later, the marcom director called my phone, asking if I added the word “Promo” to the subject line. I said “yes”.

“WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING?!” The exact word from the other end of the phone line.

“Don’t you know we don’t and will never use the word ‘Promo’?! Because we will never run any promo!”

Honestly, I had no idea about that. But immediately I aborted the blast while it was still going on, though it had made it to about 3,000+ recipients already. I spent next 10 hours going through the sent log to sift out who were those 3,000+, and sent them the clarification email.

Boss asked to see me the next day to understand the incident.

I called up the marcom director again to apologise to him officially. I told him I was prepared to be fired, but surprised why I wasn’t. To which his reply was, after accepting my apology, “I’m glad your boss didn’t fire you. I wouldn’t too! If he had, the next guy who join the company may make the same mistake. Why risk that, instead of keeping you, who are already better than the next guy!”

Those kind words have become one of my guiding principals since.

I forgot to tell, the client was Apple.