Refend.AI, the Refunding Fraud Solutions company that burst on the scene only weeks ago, has just as quickly disappeared.
The website is down. Their LinkedIn page is down. And there is little evidence that they ever existed.
And one man – Brett Johnson – the original internet godfather might have been the catalyst for their sudden ghosting.
In a Podcast and series of Linkedin and Twitter post, he reports that Refend.AI was run by former professional refunding fraudsters who were acting as “wolves in the henhouse”, by attempting to sell their anti-fraud protection services to merchants.
Talk about working on both sides!
The Founders Accused of Being Wolves In The Henhouse
To understand why Brett took issue with the founders of Refend.AI, you must understand their background.
According to Johnson, two of the three founders had a past as professional refunders themselves – selling services to consumers who wanted fraudulent refunds for merchandise they rightfully ordered and received.
This is how professional refunding works if you need a primer. 👇
The founders, some of whom recently graduated or will graduate shortly from Berkeley, decided that there was probably more money helping to solve the refunding fraud problem than actually committing the fraud themselves, so they opened the start-up Refend.AI to do just that.
From all indications, the product just might have worked, and they had some merchants using their FTID service and reporting good results. They were even in talks with Shopify and Loop to sell their services.
But then, things changed quite suddenly.
The College Age Founders Reached Out To Brett Johnson
The trouble for the startup began when they reached out to their hero, Brett Johnson, for some advice on their idea. The three college-age founders – Sataya, Caleb, and Tobias- jumped on a call with Brett to explain their services and get his opinion.
It was during a Zoom call that Caleb admitted to him they were refund fraudsters. In fact, they touted that they were the only service provider in the space that used an “insider” approach by proactively engaging with fraud groups. That was their differentiated advantage.
Brett was doubtful that they were reformed fraudsters, even going so far as to say that at least one of them could get caught in the wave of professional refund fraud indictments that will be announced shortly.
So Brett posted his comments on LinkedIn, advising merchants that working with Refend.AI might not be a great idea.
All Hell Broke Loose When Their Fraudster Tribe Found Out
After Brett’s vocal post, things deteriorated pretty rapidly for the trio.
Apparently, the founders were well known among the professional refunding tribe on Telegram. When the community discovered that Refend.AI was going to join the whitehats, all hell broke loose.
Offering to expose your former fraudster friends and help merchants fight off their fraud refunds doesn’t go over well on Telegram. And that might have been their downfall.
According to Johnson, “They screwed their Tribe over. As a result, their criminal peers Doxxed them, posted identities, addresses, emails, photos, the Refend Script, and more.”
Brett’s warning throughout all of this has been that merchants really need to be careful of “former fraudsters” turned good guys. If they are too close to the bad guys, they just might use the information against use.
Wise words. And as for Refend.AI, some of the founders on LinkedIn indicate that they are in “stealth mode”. Perhaps this story is not over yet.
Check Out The Whole Story Here
Have a listen to Brett’s original podcast so you can get all of the exciting details on this fascinating case.