Online shopping has made it easier for us to buy things and for businesses to expand their sales.
But the owner of a North Texas company says his business is on the brink of bankruptcy after someone posing as a legitimate customer launched a scheme that cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars, leaving him powerless to stop it.
Matt Maynard sells protein powder and other sports supplements online.
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He's been doing it ever since the mid 1990s when Amazon was just starting out as a bookstore.
"I was at SMU, built a website, which back then websites were a big deal," Maynard said.
He grew from his college website, and even added brick-and-mortar stores around North Texas.
These days, international sales are a big part of his business. Last year, he shipped several huge orders to India — orders, he says, he followed up on.
"Got emails saying we received the products, our customers love them," Maynard said.
This spring, months after all the India orders came and went, it seems those same customers had a change of heart.
"Four months later they're filing claims that they did not receive their products," Maynard said.
The same protein powder, which his customers wrote reviews saying they loved, is now being reported to the payment processor Paypal as never received.
Paypal removed the money from Maynard's account when the claim was filed. They credited it back the buyer.
Each of these orders were between $400 and $700, and Maynard said it's happened to him more than 400 times — for a total of more than $200,000 worth of protein powder refunded by Paypal, because the customers said they didn't get it.
The United States Postal Service couldn't confirm all the packages were delivered, because they were sent to such small towns in India, but they did track several and say they actually got there.
Those wound up getting credited back to Maynard, for a little while.
"Paypal sided with us, and that made that person mad, and he filed another claim saying the product wasn't as described," Maynard said.
Paypal told the seller in India to return the 18 pounds of protein powder that wasn't as described.
Maynard received a small 8x10 envelope with two pieces of paper from a calendar inside. As soon as the tracking information showed those pieces of paper were delivered, the person in India got their refund.
"This is a group of people, they know what they're doing. They know how to get around Paypal's policies. They know what they're doing," Maynard said.
Maynard hired attorneys to help try to get his money back.
In the meantime he's using more scrutiny now on orders and trying to figure out how to close this loophole which is allowing someone to get expensive protein powder without paying a dime.
NBC 5 Responds reached out to Paypal, which said, "Customer service and the resolution of issues are an important focus for Paypal. This is a complex matter, and we continue to work with the customer to provide information that will allow him reach favorable outcomes and resolutions to any issues he may have experienced."
It's possible this same scenario could happen when you sell something to someone and they pay you via Paypal.
Maynard's lawyers are hoping to encourage lawmakers to keep buyer protections in place but come up with some seller protections to help in cases where the returns clearly don't match what was sent in the first place.