Creator: Product 3 LLC (Craig Rothwell, Michael Weston, Dave Cancilier, Mark Linkhorst, Jacquelyn and Debs), Winooski, Vermont
Date funded: 10/13/2012
# backers: 2168
I along with 2,167 other people were scammed by Product 3 LLC for a project called iControlpad2. Many of us backed the project because there was a iControlpad 1, carried by many stores including ThinkGeek. This was supposed to be the successor to that. Photos and video were posted and the project was funded October 13, 2012. $209,100 dollars were raised of the $150,000 goal. The project was supposed to be delivered November 2012.
The project was delayed. Early 2013, a survey was sent out asking if we wanted backlighting on the keyboard. After that point the project was derailed. When I dug deeper into this, I found the following items to note:
— Mark Linkhorst (Owner of ithic.com, mcig, vitacig, Canabis Pro LLC) created the company Product 3 LLC in Winooski, VT. His name is the only one on the LLC. When he obtained the funds for the project, he sent them over to the UK where Craig Rothwell among others were supposed to develop and complete the units. They would then ship them back to Mark Linkhorst, where he would distribute them to backers and sell them on his store, ithic.com.
— Why was Craig Rothwell not the head of the project? He seemed like a spokesperson, but it appeared that Mark Linkhorst was the head. It turns out that Kickstarter projects in the UK were not allowed at the time, so he made friends and partnered with Mark Linkhorst so that a Kickstarter in the United States could be created. Otherwise, Craig wouldn’t be able to obtain the funds. He did this via the OpenPandora Forum.
— Craig Rothwell (Craigix) has a history himself. He worked with a few others on the Open Pandora handheld video game system. Craig oversold the device, and there’s people who are still waiting for their items to be delivered. OpenPandora was released in May 2008. Craig supposedly ran out of money and requested more from backers to fullfill a priority queue. See here for more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pandora_%28console%29
The section you should note from that link: “In March 2013, the pre-order queue of the German OpenPandora GmbH company (owned by Michael Mrozek aka EvilDragon) was finally cleared. The remaining pre-order queue of the UK OpenPandora Ltd. company (owned by Craig Rothwell) turned out to be significantly larger than originally reported, and the UK company has requested to be struck off. This means that the original pre-orderers at the UK company are unlikely to ever get their unit from the UK company. Also because of this, buyers have lost their money. Although there is no legal connection between the two companies, the German OpenPandora GmbH company is trying to help those UK customers by offering them significant discounts (if they decide to buy a unit from the German company instead of waiting for the UK company) and by organizing community donations to get them peer-funded units.” Craig has other public items to note, such as when he burned down a church hall.
— OpenPandora Forum holds a ongoing community funded preorder donation drive. When their goal is reached, EvilDragon sends out another 10 units of people who purchased the Pandora from Craig and haven’t received it. Mind you, these are not refunds but the actual consoles being built and shipped out. This item is already years old. Enough about that now, the OpenPandora scam could get it’s own topic.
— Michael Mrozek aka EvilDragon was consulting on this project, but bowed out early. He had his name removed from the Kickstarter page. Many people put up money for preorders because his name was on the project. It added a sense of legitimacy.
— Kickstarter has completely ignored this project. Any correspondence any of us make to Kickstarter is ignored, and all support tickets are closed without answers. I have filed against Kickstarter with the Better Business Bureau and they completely deny any involvement. I requested that they refund the fee they received from my preorder because I felt they did not perform their due diligence and are continuing to host a scam on their website. They refused and the BBB has closed the complaint. They had a “F” rating at the time of my filing.
— The project was finally cancelled about 6 months ago. EvilDragon claims that parts were purchased, but due to a number of reasons, they went unused. He is now trying to sell the parts to other distributors. Since they are not buying, he may need to lower the price of the parts. He has also claimed to be holding a portion of the project funds, but doesn’t want to return them until enough money is made to give us larger or full refunds.
— Craig Rothwell no longer posts updates to the Kickstarter page. He will not respond to any inquiries. Early on, I would go bug him on Twitter and then he would post a rather hollow update shortly after. Now Mark Linkhorst posts an empty update about once every 2 months or so. The latest update is that Craig told Mark he’s going to sell his house to assist in refunding us. Mark Linkhorst’s words are “Hopefully the house gets sold, and this will put some more money back into the coffers for backer refunds. Let’s hope for the best here.”
— An email address was opened up for “requesting” refunds. Some members of the community have been outspoken about not wanting refunds, but actual parts so they can try and complete the item themselves. Their requests go ignored. The majority of us want refunds. We have been told to email our info to email@example.com but any who have don’t receive responses. Late last year I requested a store credit to ithic.com instead of a refund so I could buy a GCW-Zero. My request went ignored. There are rumors that Mark Linkhorst was handling the correspondence and Kickstarter postings for the GCW-Zero project, but I haven’t been able to confirm that myself. His store ithic.com was the US distributor of the system.
— Craig Rothwell may have taken off with a portion of the Kickstarter money. He was also caught in a potential lie as to how the money was spent. Early in the project, he was quoted on the OpenPandora forum as saying “Inevitably some of the money from GBAX will go towards the Pandora, as did money from the iCP1 and iCP2. It is a way to continue development in general, new projects included. It’s likely the P2 (if it ever happens etc.) will just appear ready to order BTW, there isn’t a need for a KS at this point, the iCP2 has let us do what we needed to do.” GBAX is the name of Craig Rothwell’s online store. It’s hosting often goes down, but always seems to come back.
— I have contacted the Attorney General of Vermont. They have not been able to locate Mark Linkhorst. The addresses he lists are either ignoring incoming mail, or are fake. All letters they send him get returned to them. They have recently elevated the inquiries into Mark Linkhorst to the Secretary of State’s office in Vermont. I am yet to hear from them.
I have plenty of documentation, email correspondence, and proof I can provide if needed. I will also direct people to this page so they can add their own information. I’m likely overlooking a few aspects since I’m typing this off the top of my head.
My personal loss is $87 (unit preorder price + shipping). Most buyers have small amounts like this, so the cost of retaining a lawyer to pursue Mark Linkhorst is out of reach. Where it stings, is some of those who own stores and pre-ordered packs of these units are out much larger amounts of money. I haven’t heard of any of them suing yet.
Craig Rothwell has abandoned the project and at this point it looks like Mark Linkhorst as well. That leaves EvilDragon, who hasn’t said much either. He doesn’t consider himself part of the project to begin with. He’s also working on the Pyra, which is the successor to the Pandora. He’s been reassuring the community that Craig is not a part of his Pyra project.
Mark Linkhorst is on a media tour, taking interviews in hopes that his newly launched product mcig can gain momentum. He can be seen here in a CNBC interview:
I have contacted a number of lawyers including Neil Singh, but haven’t been able to find anyone interested in taking the case. We may have a case if combined into a class suit, but individually, I don’t see a bright outcome. It’s really easy to see where this could be scam. There instances where Craig claimed to be ordering the parts and it turned out he never did. When Kickstarter refuses to inforce their own terms of service, it makes it look easy to start a project, raise some cash, say the project failed, and keep it.
http://www.domaintuno.com/d/evtxt.com (owned by Craig)
http://www.leaftalk.co.uk/member.php/586-craigix?s=dd85b31b4e4bb61e8ccb8441878682cd (Where Craig currently hangs out at daily)