Community History: Team Redline, and a Lesson to be Learned
Preface: While I did my best to research this topic, I might not be fully correct with my facts and information. I also may be missing some relevant information. With the information I have gathered, this is as full of a story I can present. If you know more about this event, please post relevant information in the comments and I will do my best to incorporate that information into this article as well as correct any misinformation.
Wall of text ahead!
I wanted to type up something different than my usual posts because it’s better than facing reality. Do you guys wonder why Ripster55 always posts the same message on group buy posts? He will almost always post:
“Obligatory Group Buy PSA - BUYER BEWARE!”
He posts this message for good reason. It might seem obvious that there is always an inherent risk in group buys, but many who are newer here don’t really know what could happen in a worse case scenario. This is one of those scenarios.
Team Redline was comprised of 3 key members: DrugER, Lifezone(LifeZ), and girldc. They ran group buys out of the Team Redline name, group buys from their own name, and promised “Korean products with USA distribution.” They were known in the community, got along, and had a positive reputation. They ran BSP group buys, GMK group buys, and a few others. This isn’t a story about their specific group buys and products. This is the story of the failure of Team Redline, and the truth of what can happen to anyone in this hobby.
Team Redline was once a vendor on GeekHack(GH) and had their own subforum. There are certain rules and requirements to be an approved vendor on GH as well as having you own subforum. This story starts a few months after the mysterious absence of DrugER after a few groupbuys.
DrugER had simply vanished. No presence on Geekhack. No customer support on the Team Redline subforum. Hundreds of outstanding orders. Due to these reasons, on May 5th 2014, the moderation team at GH determined that it was time to review Team Redline’s eligibility to keep their vendor subforum and vendor privileges. From this date, all three members of Team Redline had a week to respond to the allegations.
girldc was the first to respond on may 10th:
Is me girldc
First of all, I can not English
This can be created using the translation of Google.
I confirmed the message of skype of Sifo yesterday.
sifo gave me over the link of Eagle me.
I was surprised.
What is going on this!
I in team redline
List is up.
And I with them, I have promoted the work of the individual.
I have not participated in or interfere about them.
They are not involved in the key cap that I created.
I received the help that does not know how to use my gb before.
However, I want to direct proceeds from this period.
I'm seeing the text slowly now.
Problem seems serious.
The English can not, do not know the exact content.
I want to know the exact contents
I am attempting to contact with people and other drugER.
Waiting after sending a message that does not get communication.
I have in progress now
I am busy, marine is, was a bit late
(Even overlap with the other jobs. So, to them, I will include a gift separately)
Send an email to them.
It will be members of the application gb me it is shipping soon (expected in about 10 days) is not worried.
And, panda marine who ask for the individual is also shipped as at that time.
I have to cherish the trust
Please do not misunderstand my
Now, what's happened to him
And attempting to phone
A lot of people, but would be concerned
There is nothing I also us to not know anything about it.
The next to respond was LifeZ also on may 10th:
My english is not good.
This is translation of appz
I'm the same as the team . very very sorry
We are a team , but the individual activities.
I am currently in progress to lz-fe gb trying to finish .
Individually be processed by the currently .
I contact is difficult him .
There seems to be a personal matter .
GB , but believes it can finish .
It is natural that you are worried .
I have to cherish the trust .
The thing that I think can be resolved soon .
South Korea also has participants .Will not be a serious problem .
He says that
Dsa products arrive in Korea to be distributed .
The delivery soon .
At this point, they both realize that there is a problem, and people start asking questions on the Korean keyboard communities kbdlab and kbdmania. From the translations provided, these things happened. DrugER changed his phone number and was unable to be contacted by girldc and LifeZ. A member of KBDlab visited the house of DrugER (His handle is Jackass on KBDlab) and found that DrugER had disappeared. No one could establish contact with DrugER whether it be SMS, Phone, or email. After a few additional days, KBDlab regarded all of his group buys as fraud. Both Lifezone (LifeZ) and girldc said that DrugER acted on his own, and they could not take responsibility for what happened. KBDlab said they would launch a civil case against DrugER for damages.
DrugER was running group buys for DSA Dolch, CMYW, and GMK two-tone beige. I don’t know the exact number, but the scam’s estimate on the high end was valued at ~$100,000. I’ve seen a number around $70,000 as well, but I am not sure on the exact number. What happened to individuals? Many lost $90 here and there, some lost a few hundred from these group buys. It is believed the vendor Feng lost a few thousand dollars from DrugERs scam. Another user said he lost hundreds personally from the groupbuys and over $1000 from a secondary groupbuy he was running to supply keycaps not originally in DrugERs groupbuys. It wasn’t just money that was lost. LifeZ and girldc’s reputation was slightly tarnished due to their partnership with DrugER in Team Redline. Some people even wanted LifeZ and girldc banned from GH because they were on both involved with DrugER in Team Redline. Many believed that this event caused strain between the Korean and English speaking keyboard communities for a short while. Hundreds of individuals from various keyboard communities all over the world lost money and hope.
Due to the revelations found on KBD, the moderation team of GH made their decision on May 9th as follows:
Due to recent revelations, we have finished our deliberations and decided that the following actions need to be taken, effective immediately.
DrugER is permanently banned from Geekhack.org,
LifeZ and girldc are no longer allowed to conduct commercial business on Geekhack.org until further notice.
we will archive this vendor subforum in 48 hours. this thread will be moved to announcements. the remainder of the subforum will be archived.
Note that this was a day before girldc and LifeZ’s response on GH.
This was the nail in the coffin for Team Redline. For those of you wondering what happened to DrugER, here is what might’ve happened to him although there is no confirmation.
On January 31st 2015, girldc posted on GH that DrugER had turned himself into the police. He posted that he will do so on kbdlab. The message is in korean and was reposted on GH with a poor google translation. The general gist is that he will turn himself in (wrote the post before he supposedly turned himself in), he has been homeless and at one point even tried to commit suicide, and he promises to pay back compensation little by little however possible. The reason he said he would turn himself in was that he visited his sick mother who was near her end and she said to him to never hurt others, and to pay for his wrongdoings. He apologizes for causing anguish to his guiltless friends and peers, and victims.
Whether he actually turned himself into the police is unknown. He probably won’t ever pay back the estimated $100,000. At the end of the day, people lost to one man’s greed. So, as ripster55 reminds us,
“Obligatory Group Buy PSA - BUYER BEWARE!”
Sources and relevant information about the event and individuals involved: