On Kickstarter: The Stop Spy scam by Ismael Soltero Rubio

It started all by being paranoid, lazy and browsing projects on Kickstarter. I participated in a few crowdfunding projects at the same time. Some turned out really nice and useful, but some not.

One of the biggest scams was – and still is – the Stop Spy campaign by Ismael Soltero Rubio (pictured below; it’s mirror-inverted). A small thing to cover web cams and the back cameras of smartphones, laptops, tablets and such things.

I could have bought this little device from another manufacturer in the first place. A yet existing thing. Or I may have got myself some plain stickers. But I liked the spirit of crowdfunding a lot and wanted to give this campaign a chance.

I stepped in with a small amount. But that doesn’t lessen my anger in general. The scam was and is too cheeky. And Kickstarter doing nothing against such scams – in the run-up and afterwards – is another matter that counts in. The money for projects should only be transferred, if a prototype has been produced or approved and the manufacturing company has lined up for mass production. That’s just a quick idea … and not yet thought through to the end.

Well, I’m wiser now.

And yes: I know, that taking part in crowdfunding projects was and is risky overall.

I won’t be crowdfunding ever again … that’s my present opinion. I’ve been fooled on Kickstarter to often.

But back to the Stop Spy campaign. Read on, if you’re interested or involved.

The main infos were collected and researched by numba.ninja. I supplemented some parts and tried a chronological overview.

Some prototypes were in the works around June 2017. Here’s a picture from his profile page on Facebook. If we had seen this before, maybe it would have taken another turn. The product was ready before he started the campaign on Kickstarter.

This looks like a finished product. In September 2017. And later he told all the backers, that the production couldn’t start ’cause of some delays in China and later ’cause of a missing part. A strange part which had nothing to do with the webcam covers.

Ismael started the campaign on Kickstarter back in autumn 2017. On the 12. September to be exactly. The campaign ended with pledges of € 6,011 (120% of € 5,000 goal) in October the same year. On Tuesday the 24th.

Here’s a detailed view of the funding pattern.

The average amount was € 143,11 per day.

But there were two days on which the amount has been surprisingly high. On the third day the step was € 792,00 and on day thirty-three it was € 1.668,00. Both timeframes are very important for a succesfull campaign. If a campaign doesn’t gather speed it may doesn’t attract other backers. So a steadily pace is important.

On day thirty-two it looked like the campaign slowed down a lot and won’t reach its goal. The pace was too slow. A psychological impact was needed. And it happened. Almost € 2.000 in one day gave the campaign a good push. This push enhanced the belief it would be succesfull.

The pace accelerated and suddenly the campaign reached its goal.

Participating backers were pleased and new once were convinced to hop on board.

Those two steps look like staged. It’s possible for creators to back their own campaign with a secondary acoount or by a friend’s. It happens on eBay. Why not on Kickstarter too? It only narrows the profit in the end.

If it was the creators own money it returned to the creator after the payments (minus Kickstarter’s processing fees) got transferred. So, no risk. But some extra money…

Ismael created the project page with a sligthly altered name. Just Ismael Soltero was visible. His full name only appeared on his bio page on Kickstarter: Ismael Soltero Rubio. The given link to a Facebook profile page turned out to be wrong.

It’s German. In English it says: „The link you followed may have expired, or the Page may only be visible to an audience that you aren’t in.“

Here’s his real profile page.

And here’s another profil page.

On his Kickstarter page you can find links to projects he backed. That’s good to manifest yourself as a real backer and creator too. Maybe he took part with the smallest amount possible. Just to send those projects good karma. He gave the lowest pledge and no rewards were sent to him.

He only commented on his own project. Never on those he backed. That may indicates a non existent interest in those projects and that he pledged the smallest ammount possible.

Those were his participations as a backer on Kickstarter:

He joined Kickstarter in November 2016. 10 months before he launched his own campaign. That’s enough time to prepare the Stop Spy campaign and to get an idea how things are done and work on Kickstarter. If he did this all alone.

10 weeks before his campaign started he registered the stopspycover.com domain. Get the details here.

The owner is from Benicarló, Castellón, España. A telephone number and mail address is shown too. Please note that the content of this website is controlled by the domain owner himself, and may be changed or removed by him at any time and very quickly.

And you can buy some covers on his website. If you want. The website tells you, that they’re great in many ways.

In November 2017 the funds have been released to Ismael. He collected € 6.001,00 on Kickstarter. Let’s say, that nearly € 2.500,00 were his own money (as mentioned above) he earned € 3.550,00 … minus Kickstarter’s fees.

But he raised money on Indiegogo too.

An ammount of US $ 8.844,00 has been pledged and the backers got scammed like the ones on Kickstarter. Just read the comments on the Indiegogo campaign page.

In November he promised via Kickstarter, that all was going well and the covers would be delivered before Christmas. The same promise in other words came in the beginning of December 2017. In the middle of December the delivery date suddenly switched to January. Then in the middle of January some problems with the glue and new testing did hold back the delivery date. In the end of January a shipment in February (5.) was promised. In the end of January the 5th of February still was mentioned as shipmenty date.

And just remember, that the first prototypes were ready in June 2017.

So, this next steps in February 2018 are very interesting.

  • Ismael Soltero Rubio set up a business with € 3.000,00 of nominal share capital:
  • Business name: Spain Chiliboats Sociedad Limitada.
  • Set up for the purpose of rental of leisure and sports articles, other recreational and entertainment activities and non-specialized wholesale trade.
  • Registered in Castellon, Spain in February 2018 (Act Number 85922) with € 3.000,00 capital.
  • Sole administrator: Ismael Soltero Rubio
  • Address: Paseo Maritimo, Numero 19 2B, Benicarlo, Castellon, Spain

View the details here.

He created a Facebook fan page for Spain Chiliboats on February 16th.

You can see him in some videos there. Demonstrating the chilli-shaped pedal boats which he offers for sale and/or hire. He’s the one with the thumbs up…

His girlfriend’s promoting the Facebook fanpage too.

Spain Chiliboats also have an Instagram page with similar content. And here’s the homepage.

On the same day he or his girlfriend Ela Diaz (photo below) did create a Facebook fan page for a club called Mandarina Club or Mandarina Peñiscola.

That’s her profile page in Facebook.

She started working in the club, or…

…supposably she got (bought herself) a partnership to the club. Maybe with some extra money they’ve earned from the Stop Spy campaign.

When you browse her Facebook profile it’s clearly visible, that she started posting a lot about the club from February on. She started to promote her club very hard.

So not only Chiliboats has been funded with the help of the backers of the Stop Spy campaign.

The club’s located at: Avda Papa Luna 1, 12598 Peñíscola, Spain

Ismael lives in Peñíscola. I’m not sure about his girlfriend right now. But I think she lives there too.

He has something like a rental (?) service for shishas too.

It is located at: Avd de Papa Luna 1, 12598 Peñíscola. The same building as the club. What a coincidence.

You can smoke those shishas in the club too. It all works very well together.

Maybe her or his parents. And following the Facebook page for the shisha rental service.

Suddenly in the end of February there was a part missing. Out of nowhere.

And in November he mentioned, that the factory was done with the order. To this time it should have been clear, that this was and is a scam.

The missing part. A very strange part. And he couldn’t realy clarify what this missing part was.

In March Ismael’s girlfriend has been with him on a fair in Alicante to promote those Chiliboats.

In April (5.) he told the backers, that on the 13th April the factory will give the order to him. Whatever that meant.

Then on the 13th April he told the backers, that the shipment has started.

In April (24.) he told the backers on Kickstarter, that the assembly of the covers had started. To prove this he uploaded a video (23.) to the Stop Spy Facebook fan page.

Now it’s January 2019. Over a year has passed and nothing will happen. The money’s gone and that’s it.

Ismael and his girlfriend started new businesses with our money and maybe are having fun. Good for them.

Another scam I ran in on Kickstarter has been the ArmorVPN by Bryan Childers.

I lost 70 Euro to it. That’s even worse and even more embarrassing than the StopSpy campaign.

Kickstarter won’t do anything about failed campaigns. The’ve got their money and that’s it. Kickstarter sucks…

I won’t be kickstarting ever again. My faith in crowdfunding got a big bump.

I don’t have a plan yet how to spot scams at first glance.