Last week I was contacted by Payhip, a company offering an e-commerce platform for sellers of downloadable goods like digital comics. The company’s founder, Abs Farah said that he had found my name from Twitter and decided to reach out to me and invite me to sell my comics on their platform. I didn’t bother at first, but after the second email, my Spidey-sense started tingling and I investigated.
First, Farah did not use my name. He used something else. Second, he used an unpublished email to reach out to me. The email he used is not tied to my Twitter account. The account it was tied to was my Patreon account. Patreon is a crowdfunding platform where people can support their favourite artists. I use Patreon to support Johnny Bullet. In October 2015, Patreon’s clients names were hacked, stolen and released publicly.
Farah contacted me using the email used on Patreon. He did not find me from Twitter. At most, he corroborated that I exist with Twitter. But there is no way for him to use the email as it is not published anywhere publicly, except in the Patreon stolen database.
Many third-party merchants (I will call them leeches) want a cut of your sales, no matter how small they are. If you use Kickstarter and other crowdfunding services, you will soon be approached by many third-parties promising to help you reach more clients. They all want a piece of the action. They all want some of your money. Some offer real value. Others, like Farah’s Payhip don’t.
I can email Acrobat copies of Johnny Bullet manually to readers who want to buy a digital copy. Sure, it’s not as efficient as an automatic download, but it is enough. If I really want to step up my sales fulfillment, I can buy an app for a one-time fee, or hire a developer to make me a purchase plug in. I don’t need to pay a subscription fee for such a basic service.
And I certainly will not buy services from a company that uses a stolen and hacked database as the basis of its potential leads list. It’s immoral. The Patreon users’ data were leaked without their authorization. They did not ask for their confidential data to be released to everyone on the Internet. Since the Patreon hack, I have been approached many times by other third-parties clearly using hacked data. I wish Patreon were more aggressive in pursuing the crooks that stole its data, and suing companies like Payhip who abuse it.
If you are an idiot, do use Payhip. You will be supporting people with questionable morals and less than good intentions for you. I don’t need to give my money to third-parties who lie about how they added me to their leads’ list. By contacting me with a private email only published in a hacked database while claiming to have found me on Twitter, they lied to me. They also proved that they are untrustworthy as they relied on hacked and stolen data that affect the security, the privacy, and confidentiality of the people they claim to help. Use Payhip at your own risks.