Industry News

Updated: Scammed: The X-Tra battery campaign on Kickstarter

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Back in November, I promoted a Kickstarter campaign for the X-Tra Performance battery, a very cool looking battery product for your Canon and other mirrorless cameras.

In the past, I’ve generally only ever promoted campaigns by companies that have had a track record of delivering on their promises, the likes Kurvd, Peak Design and Gura Gear have never really let anyone down, outside of minor delivery delays.

This time, however, it looks like we have all been taken, and I would like to apologize for not properly vetting the project because once I dug deeper after the fact, it became apparent that this project was likely a scam from the get-go.

When did I become suspicious?

I was signed up as an affiliate for the project, and I had spoken directly with the claimed CEO “Jeffrey”, and I was offered 20% of all sales driven to the project. Being the trusting readers you are, you folks laid out about $18,000 in backing the project, for which I had earned just shy of $3500. A decent sum to keep the lights on and the server churning.

On January 12, 2021, that payment was due to the Kickbooster platform to be handed out to all of the affiliates, it didn’t happen. Which isn’t highly unusual, sometimes payments are late. I reached out to Kickbooster and they told me that no one from the project had returned any communications about payment.

The communication from the project during the campaign was spotty at best, again that’s not unusual. Sometimes people get tired of answering the same questions over and over. That may not be right, but it is fairly common.

So I started to dig deeper and wanted to know more about the CEO “Jeffery Parker” and the CTO “Arthur Lau”. Now, for photographers and videographers on the apparent cutting edge of things, there wasn’t much to be found about these two characters out there, so that lead me to using some tools to see if I could track them down by the photographs.

Well, Jeffrey Parker was quite easy to find, as he looks like a Hong Kong-based model, and was likely hired for this project and may not have known what he had actually been hired for.

Below is an upsampled picture from the Kickstarter campaign of the claimed CEO “Jeffrey Parker”.

afh - Updated: Scammed: The X-Tra battery campaign on Kickstarter
CEO “Jeffrey Parker” from the X-Tra Kickstarter (Upsampled)

Below is what appears to be the same person, he appears in all sorts of publications in that appear to be in Mandarin, as well as stock images for other products being sold online. I ended up finding about 3 dozen images of him, but his reported name differs from site to site.

Once I had found our “Mr Parker”, I realized that everything was probably nonsense from the start. I have reached out directly to the email addresses I have for the campaign and I have obviously heard nothing back. They have also stopped replying to anyone on the Kickstarter page.

Update #1: Thanks DVaNu

It looks like our favourite CEO is peddling another project on Kickstarter. The company running this campaign Sabinetek looks to be legitimate based on past successful projects.

jeffcampaign 728x415 - Updated: Scammed: The X-Tra battery campaign on Kickstarter

Indiegogo is currently still running the campaign, I reached out to them to tell them that it was a scam and that I was ready to provide my evidence, and all I received in return was a canned response and nothing else. Which is a shame, because obviously Indiegogo and Kickstarter don’t appear to care.

Can I get my money back?

This is a tricky question, as there is no black and white solution for a backer getting their money back. I was able to get my money back through American Express, I have the Platinum Aeroplan card, and it wasn’t much of an issue.

Getting your money back will likely depend on where you live, your bank and what sort of credit card you paid with. I wish I could give you a more detailed overview of the topic, but there are just too many different scenarios out there. I will say it is definitely worth your time to call your credit card company and explain it. You can even source this article, no one likes scams, credit card companies especially.

Again, I am sorry that I didn’t properly vet this project before promoting it. It definitely won’t happen again in the future.

If I hear anything more, I will update this article.

Update #2 – February 10, 2021

A few people have suggested I only wrote this article because I didn’t receive affiliate revenue that was due.

The collection of affiliate dollars was done by Kickbooster with a due date of January 12, 2021. To be paid out to me the first day of February. Up until this point I had continued to receive project details including my purchase being locked in and a survey from the campaign.

I only noticed by chance when I was poking around Kickbooster last week that funds had not been collected, so I reached out to Kickbooster. I then noticed that all communication from the campaign had also stopped. This campaign wasn’t something that was in the forefront of my thoughts, so I was just riding it out like I always do with Kickstarter.

There have been some pretty outlandish comments about affiliate “disclosure”. Yes, there should have been an affiliate disclosure on the post, like it is site-wide now. However, that would not have changed the fact that people got screwed over by a scam campaign. A couple of dozen sites, like me, didn’t vet this properly, which lead to their readers buying into a scam campaign.

I have also found 9 other sites that affiliated this campaign without any sort of disclosure of being an affiliate. None of those sites has owned up to this being a scam. It doesn’t make things right, but bad practice runs rampant in this industry. However, I don’t believe any of these sites or myself had any bad intentions or purposely wanted to deceive readers.

Because I have written this article, many people have been able to get refunds, unfortunately not everyone will be able to, but I highly doubt that any other site would have ever followed up on this campaign being a scam.

Out of all the sites that promoted it, I have only seen two write an article about it, mostly trying to absolve themselves of any wrongdoing for not doing due diligence before posting about the campaign. I repeat, any site that claims they properly vetted this campaign is being disingenuous. It took me less than 5 minutes to figure out that “Jeffery” was BS, which is what frustrates me the most. Had I done due diligence before I posted, all of this would have been avoided.

Update #3

X-TRA Responds to their lack of communication:

That’s all well and good, and I’m not sure of the motivation behind this communication. We have the internet everywhere, there is never an excuse to go radio silent. I also don’t know how Kickstarter releases funding to the people behind campaigns. Was this statement merely to slow or stop the Kickstarter and Indiegogo investigations that have been confirmed to be happening?

Secondly, it doesn’t take away from the fact “Jeffery” as represented in this campaign doesn’t appear to be legitimate.

They have never responded to my requests for comment directly, which was something that happened on a regular basis at the beginning of their campaign.

I would still continue to advise backers to try and get a refund through their financial institutions.

No funds have been released to affiliates, for those that are wondering. If affiliate dollars ever do roll my way, they will be donated in one way or another and I’ll be very transparent about that.

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Feb 29, 2020
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Once Indiegogo and Kickstarter have your money they could care less. You are investing in an idea and nothing else. Credit cards won’t pay you back. Very difficult. They Will temporary give you the money back until the investigation comes back and then they will take your money again quoting that you invested in an idea not a product
 

cayenne

EOS R6
CR Pro
Mar 28, 2012
2,589
556
Wow..that sucks.
I have backed a number of Kickstarter campaigns and have gotten what I feel are great deals on new products and have been generally satisfied.

But I supposed bad ones slip through....thanks for the update.

I remembered looking at this one and it just didn't happen to tickle my fancy. Thankfully.

cayenne
 

Canon Rumors Guy

EOS-1D X Mark III
CR Pro
Jul 20, 2010
9,007
1,719
Canada
www.canonrumors.com
Once Indiegogo and Kickstarter have your money they could care less. You are investing in an idea and nothing else. Credit cards won’t pay you back. Very difficult. They Will temporary give you the money back until the investigation comes back and then they will take your money again quoting that you invested in an idea not a product

The person I spoke to at American Express says they refund all crowdfunding scams. That said, it may depend on your country, card type or even the person you speak to.

If a few hundred people get the refunds, there's no way Kickstarter is going to fill out a few hundred disputes, because they'd probably still lose.
 

slclick

Unsolicited & Always Free
Dec 17, 2013
4,448
2,670
I saw alot of convincing suspicions in thread when you posted this.
Same here. Fishy from the start and was surprised you backed it initially. Sorry to everyone who did. Having a solid bank behind your accounts is so important these days. I've never done the Internet begging thing and now after reading this am more convinced I never will. I'd rather be the 'sucker that pays retail' and does not get scammed or put through a hassle.
 

Pierre Lagarde

Canon, Nikon and So on ...
Aug 4, 2020
41
44
France
www.deviantart.com
Sorry for all that, and glad to see there are still some people as honest as you are about their mistakes.
To ease the pain, I would say it's more and more difficult to even simply define "scam", some campaigns can be perfectly legal and still a clear loss for investors. Sometimes, you can't even know who's fooling who (and some are even fooling themselves, probably, or at least a part of their staff).
 

RunAndGun

EOS RP
CR Pro
Dec 16, 2011
450
137
My radar went off immediately and I’m sorry you and others got tricked. This is the kind of thing that makes it harder for the legit guys, because, as they say, one bad apple spoils the bunch.

I do give you credit for stepping up and admitting your mistake of backing and recommending them, though. And to the others that got taken, call your CC company. I have seen them do charge backs/refunds in situations that may surprise you.
 

Matthew19

EOS M6 Mark II
Feb 8, 2012
70
13
When crowdfunding you are taking the place of a capital investor, someone who is experienced at analyzing risk and probability. The kickstarters will print up a proof of concept and the public sees it and thinks that the product actually exists. It doesn't.

I see no reason to kickstarter anything now. You take no risk, and if its a success, you can buy once the first units ship and you'll have a better product because the kinks are smoothed out.
 

Max C

Canon 60D
Feb 9, 2020
112
128
What I said way back in Nov
Screenshot_20210209_115929.jpg
 

Dragon

EF 800L
May 29, 2019
415
387
Thanks for being up front with this. When I looked at the original post I was skeptical of the claim of 2x the power in a battery only slightly bigger than the OEM battery. I had seen no articles suggesting that such an improvement was possible.
 
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another_mikey

I'm New Here
CR Pro
Feb 17, 2015
20
65
Disappointing - I was VERY close to backing this myself but held off, not due to suspicions but just because I was saving for another purchase. I thought the design looked cool though - maybe someone reputable could pick up on the idea, as I thought they had some cool concepts incorporated into the proposed product. Sorry folks may lose their hard earned cash, makes it that much harder for the reputable Kickstarter types in the future too no doubt.

ML
 

cuboci

EOS R6
CR Pro
Nov 11, 2014
6
39
I looked at your post from back in November and it is in the category Industry News. Now, it was obviously a promotional article but there was nothing in there about your 20% stake in the product, not even that you backed the campaign yourself. A little disclaimer about that would have been nice. I think being transparent about your own involvement when you promote such campaigns is the ethical thing to do. I'm kind of disappointed.
 

melgross

EOS RP
Nov 2, 2016
728
482
I had backed five Kickstarter campaigns. Two of them came through, and the other three? Well, I have no idea. I haven’t done that for several years, and I never will again, except for a book that someone I know very well is doing on professional audio. But he’s very well known in the industry and has a company that has made numerous high quality recordings. This is his second book. But otherwise, I‘m done with it.
 
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LeBlobe

EOS RP
Nov 9, 2020
28
17
Montreal, Canada
I looked at your post from back in November and it is in the category Industry News. Now, it was obviously a promotional article but there was nothing in there about your 20% stake in the product, not even that you backed the campaign yourself. A little disclaimer about that would have been nice. I think being transparent about your own involvement when you promote such campaigns is the ethical thing to do. I'm kind of disappointed.

i didnt know that too , is it the norm for such articles on most reputable sites?
 

melgross

EOS RP
Nov 2, 2016
728
482
I looked at your post from back in November and it is in the category Industry News. Now, it was obviously a promotional article but there was nothing in there about your 20% stake in the product, not even that you backed the campaign yourself. A little disclaimer about that would have been nice. I think being transparent about your own involvement when you promote such campaigns is the ethical thing to do. I'm kind of disappointed.
I agree. He probably didn’t think of it at the time. But definately. If someone promotes a product, or any kind of possible product, and has a stake in it, then ethically, they must say that.

actually, I believe it‘s legally required in some jurisdictions. Additionally, if he has a stake, or partial ownership position in the project, he may be responsible for the losses others have suffered.
 

Canon Rumors Guy

EOS-1D X Mark III
CR Pro
Jul 20, 2010
9,007
1,719
Canada
www.canonrumors.com
i didnt know that too , is it the norm for such articles on most reputable sites?

Yes, it's normal. You can usually tell by the URL of the link. But yes, an affiliate disclaimer is supposed to be on such posts.

Gura Gear, Peak Design, Kurvd are all affiliated as well. It's just standard marketing practice, they only pay marketing dollars out if there are direct sales.

I did put my money where my mouth was and ordered two of the batteries. Thankfully I was refunded, I hope others are successful too.
 
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