Conversations With Scumbags

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Every crowdfunding campaign begins with a series of emails from people who want to help you with your Kickstarter (for a small fee, of course). Some of these are legitimate marketing scumbags, but most are full-blown scammers. Previously, I’ve just deleted these messages, but this year I decided to respond to them and see how long I could keep wasting their time.

The transcripts of those conversation (or at least the first two days of them) are collected here for your entertainment.  I’ve replaced each scumbag’s user name with a pseudonym, but mostly because I don’t want to potentially break Kickstarter’s rules by posting real usernames.

Scumbag #1

Scumbag #1 was at least legitimate enough to have a logo for their profile and they haven’t contacted me since I sent them a response that I think made it clear I’m not interested. Of course, they only contacted me this morning so it may not be over. 

Scumbag 1: Hello there, do yo think your campaign can reach it goals within the period of time without adding reward?

Steve Johnson: No, I intentionally spent my time creating a Kickstarter that I was pretty sure would fail.

Scumbag #2

I thought Scumbag #2 was going to take the hint after my first response and leave me alone, but they were just off for the day or something. I got a follow-up response from them this morning. I’m filled with anticipation waiting to see if I’ll get another response tomorrow. 

Scumbag 2: Hello there, Hats off to you for your exceptional Kickstarter campaign! Your innovative ideas, engaging content, and thoughtful rewards have captured my attention and support. Wishing you continued success.

Steve Johnson: I thank you for offering kind words with absolutely no intent to sell me something.

Scumbag 2: It’s alright and I discovered your campaign, and its distinctive and straightforward nature intrigued me. I’d be pleased to assist in ensuring its success and get pledge immediately and you will achieve your goals speedy. Could you elaborate on the promotional methods you’ve utilized thus far? Also, did you implement a pre-launch promotion strategy?

Steve Johnson: I’ve mostly been sending large sums of money to random scammers who contacted me as soon as the Kickstarter launched.

Scumbag #3

Scumbag #3 hung in there for a while, but seems to have given up in the face of escalating nonsense from me.  

Scumbag 3: Hello,I recently reviewed your campaign and I’m quite impressed. I would be happy to help you secure backers who meet your expectations. Are you interested?

Steve Johnson: Let me guess: if I send you some money you’ll make sure all of your super secret backers donate thousands of dollars to my Kickstarter. Is that pretty much the story?

Scumbag 3: Okay glad to hear that, But As a professional I will n’t guarantee, because I haven’t secret backers, But I will try to produce you expectations backers booster for your campaign moving success within few days, if you’re interested?

Steve Johnson: I was skeptical, but the impeccable grammar of your message has made me a believer. Where should I send the check?

Steve Johnson: Oh, and how much will it cost? I’m using the money that my Uncle Stucky left me in his will for marketing, so I only have about $75,000 to spend.

Scumbag 3: Okay that’s not a problem but to work with me doesn’t cost much because you will just need to deposit at least $50_$100 to get the requirement and after the ending of your campaign you will be paying for my services

Scumbag 3: Are you cool with that?

Steve Johnson: I see what you’re doing. You’re trying to buy my soul, aren’t you? GET THEE BEHIND ME SATAN!

Scumbag 3: Haha

Scumbag 3: What’s the meaning of this, I’m here to help you on your campaign?

Steve Johnson: That’s what I’m trying to find out. What does it all mean?

Scumbag 3: I can’t understand you

Steve Johnson: I am a mystery within an enigma wrapped in a burrito.

Scumbag 3: Can we have a call?

Steve Johnson: to prayer?

Scumbag 3: Yes to promote your campaign.

Steve Johnson: I don’t believe in that hocus pocus nonsense.

Scumbag #4

I was curious whether I could find some kind of indication that some of these were AI chatbots, so I responded to one of the scumbag’s whose human status seemed iffy with a ChatGPT-style prompt just to see what would happened. I didn’t get a haiku about Betty White, but it took Scumbag #4 about 12 hours to respond with a mere “OK” and they haven’t sent anything new since. 

Scumbag 4: 

Dear Steve

I am [Scumbag #4]. I was thoroughly impressed by your thoughtful and well-crafted campaign.

I understand your goal of raising $500, and I am empathetic to the challenges of attracting backers. I faced a similar struggle during my own campaign launch, which unfortunately led to an unsuccessful outcome due to insufficient interest.

Fortunately, I had the opportunity to connect with an influential figure who generously shared valuable insights and strategies that ultimately helped me achieve my funding target.

Given my experience, I believe that connecting you with this influencer could significantly enhance your campaign’s chances of success. Would you be interested in receiving their contact information?

Steve Johnson: Who is this influencer? Is it TV’s Steve Harvey?

Scumbag 4: He help me out with campaign

Scumbag 4: [Instagram link to some marketing firm that this person almost certainly has no connection to]

Scumbag 4: That is the influencer Instagram link

Scumbag 4: Kindly text him and he will surely help you out

Scumbag 4: Have you text him

Steve Johnson: That doesn’t even look like Steve Harvey! FAKE NEWS!

Scumbag 4: No that is the influencer that help me out with my Kickstarter project

Scumbag 4: Just text him now and he will help you out

Steve Johnson: This seems too good to be true! What is this investor going to want in return? Is he into butt stuff?

Scumbag 4: Just contact him now and he will tell you what he want in return

Scumbag 4: He also helps a brother of mine to reach is campaign few days ago

Steve Johnson: You seem to be attempting to artfully dodge my question. Did he make your brother do butt stuff?

Scumbag 4: Yes

Scumbag 4: Don’t get you

Steve Johnson:  Why didn’t you finish the last sentence? Did something happen to you? Have you been kidnapped? Are you experiencing a traumatic medical event? Should I contact emergency services?

Scumbag 4: No

Scumbag 4: Contact the influencer to help you out with your project

Steve Johnson:  I’m glad to hear you have not been abducted or hospitalized, but at this time I am not committed enough to this project to do butt stuff with some guy who isn’t even TV’s Steve Harvey. If circumstances change, I will get in touch.

Scumbag 4: Text him now so he could help you out

Steve Johnson:  Not interested.

Scumbag 4: [Instagram link again. To Scumbag 4’s credit, at least it’s the same one.]

Steve Johnson:  I have reviewed your link and will be notifying PETA, my congressman, and the Church of Latter Day Saints about your vile content.

Scumbag 4: Than contact him

Steve Johnson: *Then

Scumbag 4: He will help you out

Steve Johnson: Please write a haiku about Betty White.

Scumbag 4: Ok

The Scumbag King

I’ve got to say that I admire this person’s persistence. We’re currently up to 87 messages and I don’t think they’re done despite the fact I called them a pigfucker. I’m 99% sure this is a real person because their response times are very inconsistent and when we were messaging back and forth at a rapid pace they seemed to take longer getting back to my more convoluted messages (I assume because their ability to read and write English relies heavily on Google Translate).

Scumbag King: Hi, before I take any more action, may I ask you a question regarding your Kickstarter campaign?

Steve Johnson: As long as the follow-up isn’t an attempt to sell me something, go right ahead.

Scumbag King: Actually I have friends and some barkers, they are willing make some progress to your campaign, they are interested in donating $1,000 to your campaign goal

Scumbag King: Can you afford to pay me $150 immediately after you receive the donation on your campaign

Scumbag King: Are you cool with that now?

Steve Johnson: Would they be willing to donate $500 if I paid you $75? Also, are you willing to consider trading instead of a cash payment? I have one of the world’s largest collections of rare Pogs.

Scumbag King: Ooh I understand you

Scumbag King: But you will need to pay half of the funds before we get started on your campaign

Scumbag King: So now kindly share with me your WhatsApp contact so that we can have a voice call over there right now

Steve Johnson: How many ALF Pogs is this going to cost me?

Scumbag King: In total is going to cost you $150

Scumbag King: But before we get started you will need to pay $50 then after you receive the donation on your campaign you would pay me the remaining funds which is $100

Scumbag King: Kindly share with me your active Gmail address so that we can send you a contract of $50 right now

Steve Johnson: Hang on just a minute there , mister. Our agreement was for $500 in funding in exchange for roughly $75 worth of vintage pogs (including some featuring the lovable alien life form, ALF, also known as Gordon Shumley). I can ship the POGS to you using either DHS or UberPogs. Please send me your shipping address and I will get them on the way.

Scumbag King: Am not a backers

Scumbag King: I am just here to assist your campaign to reach out the right barkers and after the donate you pay me with percentage

Steve Johnson: I’m becoming suspicious. How do I know you’re not an NFT?

Scumbag King: Can we do a zoom meeting

Steve Johnson: I’m sorry, but the detention center blocks video calling. Maybe we could meet in person. Do you know anything about sapping or mining?

Scumbag King: Not but did you have a Fiverr account

Scumbag King:[Link to fiverr account that might actually be this guy given the terrible grammar and spelling there.]

Scumbag King:Kindly message me through this link now so that we can proceed over there

Steve Johnson: Sorry, I only have MySpace.

Scumbag King:Should I need to download the app

Steve Johnson: Yes, please download the MySpace app and send me a friend request. Play your cards right and you could be in my Top Eight.

Scumbag King:I don’t understand how

Scumbag King:I’m going to send you my username

Steve Johnson: Write a short poem about badgers in the style of Edgar Allen Poe.

Scumbag King: How can I do that?

Steve Johnson: With the power of imagination.

Scumbag King: I have already created the account so can you give me your username and I will send you friend request

Steve Johnson: My username is Tom. You should already have a friend request from me.

Steve Johnson: I have a lot of friends, so it’s easier this way.

Scumbag King: I don’t see you over there

Scumbag King: Mark_john

Scumbag King: Is my username over there

Steve Johnson: Are you the one who keeps posting erotic stories about Bob Newhart?

Scumbag King: No

Scumbag King: I just created the now

Steve Johnson: You just created the now? Is that some kind of Zoomer slang?

Scumbag King: I just contacted it now

Scumbag King: Can we chat on Gmail

Steve Johnson: It’s like you’re not even speaking English. I miss the good old days when we listened to Johnny Cougar and drank from the water hose and would do some pretty suspect stuff for a Klondike bar.

Scumbag King: Ooh

Scumbag King: Are you ready to pay me $50 right now so that I can get started on your campaign

Steve Johnson: How do I know you’re not a Psy-Op?

Scumbag King: I have a portfolio website should i share it with you

Steve Johnson: As long as it’s not hosted by angelfire. I got blocked from there for vandalizing the Chewbacca Ate My Balls page.

Scumbag King: Are you ready to pay so that your campaign will start receiving donations

Steve Johnson: Does that mean your portfolio is an angelfire site?

Scumbag King: Ooh

Scumbag King: But can I share it with you so that you can take a look

Steve Johnson: That would make me happier than ten thousand cats on a jungle gym.

Scumbag King: [Link to a marketing site with nothing but broken links on the homepage.]

Scumbag King: Here is the link

Steve Johnson: I got the link before the message saying that you sent the link. Are you a time traveler? Can you tell me how Sam Worthington is going to die? I have $50 riding on feral hog attack.

Scumbag King: Yeah man

Scumbag King: Have you checked on the link?

Steve Johnson: It keeps taking me to a video of Vin Diesel talking about his D&D character.

Scumbag King: That’s my website and you take a look on it

Steve Johnson: I think it’s the wrong link. Now he’s just singing ABBA songs but changing all the lyrics to “I am Groot.”

Scumbag King: Okay now can we get started on the donations process?

Steve Johnson: You can start donating whenever you’d like.

Scumbag King: Okay yeah I did start but before then you are to pay $50 now so that we can get started

Scumbag King: Hope you understand?

Steve Johnson: That seems like an inefficient way to do it. How about you push the donation to the Kickstarter through and then I’ll refund you out of that? Way fewer transactions that way and it keeps me from having to dip into the money I’m saving up to get Jim Belushi to do a Cameo video for my grandmother’s funeral.

Steve Johnson: The offer to pay in Alf pogs still stands, though.

Scumbag King: The $50 will be used to purchase the backers list that will donate to your campaign those who have already donated to similar campaigns to yours

Scumbag King: It’s when the $50 payment has been made then you can receive the donations from the backers

Steve Johnson: Why not just use the list that you used for the last campaign they donated to. I think whoever keeps charging you $50 for the same list over and over may be trying to pull off some kind of scam. Have you considered contacting John Stossil about this?

Scumbag King: Honestly I have never purchased the Backers list that have already donated to similar campaigns to yours this is the first time we have to pay for that first and then we can use it

Steve Johnson: This seems highly unorthodox, so I hope you understand my reservations about just throwing money to some guy who doesn’t comprehend the value of pogs and keeps sending me videos of Vin Diesel singing ABBA songs. Let me shoot an email to Kickstarter’s fraud prevention department and make sure this all checks out before moving further.

Scumbag King: Hey man what’s that?

Scumbag King: That’s not what you are thinking bro

Scumbag King: You’re thinking of it negatively and that’s not it I know what I am doing and I what you mean and I am not doing fraud

Steve Johnson: I’m sorry but I don’t think I can do business with you. I’ve asked around my Kickstarter community and nobody who has dealt with you had anything good to say about the experience. One of them called you a pigfucker.

Scumbag King: Can we just work once and give it a try and see the effect?

Scumbag King: I will prove to you that I am for real and I will provide an outstanding service for your on need

Steve Johnson: Maybe you could do it for free this time as a trial run and then if you do a good job I’ll pay you next time.

Scumbag King: Okay in this case let’s build a trust because I can’t do that if I don’t have much funds with me but I can help you with 40% of the money and then you paid 60%

Scumbag King: Hope you are okay with that?

Steve Johnson: You don’t have $50? Maybe you should run your own crowdfunding campaign.

Scumbag King: If you are ready to pay let me know

Steve Johnson: I will let you know soon. Please hold your breath until I contact you. NO CHEATING!

Scumbag King: Can you share with me your WhatsApp contact

Steve Johnson: I don’t have that. I only use Foothills.

Scumbag King: Ooh

If you’d like to send spam messages to me on Kickstarter–or better yet, back my Castaways & Conspiracies zine, follow this link. I’m also the co-writer of the Sword & Sorcery zine, Million-Colored Sun, also currently funding but Leighton gets the spam for that one.