Back on November 19, 2020, we published an article covering news of a Kickstarter campaign that appeared to be funding the production of the X-tra Battery, a product that claimed to be ‘the camera battery, re-invented.’ Now, it appears the campaign was a sham, with no products to show for after more than 1,500 backers pledged $221,290 to see the X-Tra Battery to life.
Canon Rumors was the first publication to bring these allegations to light after its founder, who used the KickBooster affiliate program, failed to receive any response when he attempted to collect his 20% commission for referring his readers to the project, despite it being successfully funded. While that in and of itself could’ve simply been a communication issue between two parties, backers of the project have also questioned the legitimacy of the campaign after selective and vague communication from the founders, and no definitive timeline on product delivery, even after critical deadlines had passed.
As Canon Rumors notes in its coverage, the individual labeled as the ‘CEO’ of X-Tra, who is referred to as ‘Jeffery Parker’ in the above image and appears in multiple videos promoting the product, appears to be a model based in Hong Kong. In addition to appearing in multiple stock photos across the web, the individual is also a model in promotional material for a new Kickstarter campaign promoting ‘wireless 3D audio’ headphones. Now, there’s no evidence this individual is complicit in any of the scams whatsoever, but the lack of clarity does raise questions.
|An image from the linked Kickstarter campaign for a pair of headphones showing what appears to be the same individual labeled as the CEO of X-tra.|
|A stock photo that also appears to show the same individual, discovered during a reverse image search.|
Before publishing this article, we contacted the project creators, Kickstarter, KickBooster, BackerKit and Jellop to see if any of these involved parties have information on the project’s creators. We wanted to give these organizations 24 hours to respond for further information on this campaign and the individuals behind it.
As of publishing, we have only received a response from Kickstarter, who confirmed the ‘project has been reported via the “Report this project” button by a small number of people,’ with most of them coming yesterday. The Kickstarter representative also said it is ‘actively investigating’ this issue. We have followed up with Kickstarter and will provide more information when we receive it.
To clarify our role in covering this project and crowdfunding campaigns going forward, we want to make our process as transparent as possible and detail how we will further improve upon our process going forward to further reduce passing on risk to you, our readers.
|A promotional image used by the Kickstarter campaign to promote the X-Tra Battery.|
We first came across this product on Kickstarter, where we saw it as a ‘new’ project. It piqued our interest and it seemed to be a product our readers would be interested. As with all crowdfunded campaigns we share, we then went through the process of culling through the campaign in an attempt to verify its legitimacy. Below are a few criteria we used to judge whether or not to cover this project:
- The campaign had a substantial description and detailed reasonable specifications for a product of this kind (two 18650 Li-Ion batteries can be expected to offer the stated battery life in the form factor the X-Tra Battery appeared to use)
- The project laid out what appeared to be a reasonable timeline
- The photos/videos show what appears to be a working prototype
- The company had an operational Instagram account with media of the product in use
- There was access to a complete media kit, with a press release, photos and video
- And, most importantly, Kickstarter said the identity of the project’s creator had been verified, which includes using an address, name and form of identification to determine the authenticity of the project’s creators
|A note from Kickstarter on the Kickstarter campaign that specifically says the founder of the project has been verified. There is a discrepancy though — here the name is spelled ‘Jeffrey,’ whereas elsewhere in the campaign, it’s spelled ‘Jeffery.’|
Together, these factors were taken into account to make the final decision to cover the project. We had nothing to gain from readers backing the project, as we were not at all (and never have been) a part of any Kickstarter affiliate program. As always, there is a risk with crowdfunding campaigns and we try to make this very clear in crowdfunding projects we cover using the below disclaimer (which has been in use for two years now):
‘Disclaimer: Remember to do your research with any crowdfunding project. DPReview does its best to share only the projects that look legitimate and come from reliable creators, but as with any crowdfunded campaign, there’s always the risk of the product or service never coming to fruition.’
Over the past 10 years, we’ve covered more than 150 crowdfunding campaigns from creators small and large. While some of those may have had production issues or delayed deliveries, the X-Tra Battery campaign is the first that appears to be a scam from onset with no intentions of delivering any kind of product.
Proving the authenticity of a crowdfunding campaign isn’t an easy task, as many times the products being offered are still under early stages of development and there are always unforeseen risks that could impact the success of a project. Still, we want to ensure we share only campaigns that have the highest chance of success with minimal risk passed on to you. As such, going forward, we will make it a point to establish clear communication with the creators of any project we cover, request additional information on how the funds will be used and verify what happens to the pledges should issues arise during the production process.
As for what you can do if you backed this project, we suggest you immediately contact the payment provider you used to make your pledge and request a refund and/or dispute the charge as fraud. We have compiled a collection of PDFs of the Kickstarter campaign, FAQ, comments and the X-Tra Battery Instragram profile for you to download and keep on hand for reference in the event the campaign gets taken offline.
You can also contact Kickstarter for details on how to proceed, although when you use Kickstarter’s platform, you do agree to do so at your own risk. Still, you can read through this FAQ page provided by Kickstarter and contact the Kickstarter Community Support team using the link at the bottom of that page.
As mentioned above, we have contacted all those involved with the creation, hosting, affiliation and fulfillment of this project. We are hoping to receive more definitive answers from Kickstarter — and the other parties involved — and will update this article with additional information when we receive it.
If you have any information regarding this project or the individuals behind it, we request you send us through a personal message here on DPR or email using our tip email address ([email protected]).