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Exposing a Two-Bit Scammer

My normal readers can ignore this, as it has nothing to do with energy or the environment.

This post is about a small measure of justice against a small-time scammer who tried to rip me off – and who has ripped others off. As I will document here, the attempted fraud happens on a regular basis. By writing this, people who are trying to figure out if he is running a scam should run across this in their Google search results – and realize that there is a history here they need to be aware of. This all started on 10-26-09, but I am back-dating this post so it doesn’t show up on the first page (but still high enough that the Google spiders will find it).

Here is the story. I like to play computer games with my kids. One of the games we play is called Diablo II, and to play together online we need two licensed copies of the game on two computers. Since I already have the software, all I needed was another key. (Actually two keys, as there is also an expansion).

People do sell game keys, and so I did a Google search for Diablo II Game Keys. Up popped a Google ad for this site: http://www.diablo-keys.com/. Here is a snapshot of part of the ad:

Note the language of the ad. “The keys are fresh from the box – unmuted, unbanned and only in use by you.” The bottom portion of the ad reads “If you have any problem with any of the keys, we will replace them free of charge, forever. All orders are shipped INSTANYLY [sic] upon purchase.”

There were other comparable ads, but this was the best price, so I bought two keys. I almost bought multiple sets – and would have later on – except for what happened after I bought the keys. Right after I got them, I tried them out and found out that they had already been registered. In other words, they were not “fresh from the box”, and were in fact worthless since I could not use them to play the game with my son. I gave the merchant the benefit of the doubt, and simply reported that the keys didn’t work:

For both of the keys below, I received this message when I tried to authenticate and add them to my Battlenet Account:

The authentication key you entered has already been claimed.

Each authentication key can only be redeemed once. Please refer to your games section of the home page to review the keys attached to this Battle.net account. If you’re sure you have not previously claimed this key, please double-check the spelling and enter it now.

The response I got was pretty lame, and immediately aroused my suspicions:

We are glad to hear from you. We fully investigate and reply to each e-mail submitted to us. Whatever your concern is, expect the best customer support ever!

Your request will be answered within 24 hours. We will be glad to fix any problem you, valued customer, could get. To ensure the best customer service, please do not submit multiple e-mails unless you have new information to submit, or if we haven’t replied for 24 hours (this usually means our response has been blocked by your junk filter).

As again, thank you for your great customership and for your trust in Diablo-Keys, top Diablo 2 reseller 🙂 !

At that point, I started wondering whether this person was trying to scam me. So I did some Google searches on Diablo Keys scam and some other related keywords. I found that I wasn’t the first to have a problem with this guy. Here is someone documenting that his keys didn’t work. And here is the amazing response from “Diablo-Keys, top Diablo 2 reseller:

So the response from support@diablo-keys.com, the same address responding to me, was to verbally insult the customer who complained about getting ripped off. I also noted that he had used PayPal, but when I bought my keys PayPal wasn’t the payment option. He was using a service called AlertPay.com. In hindsight I think what that probably means is that PayPal dropped him after people complained about being ripped off. I also ran across multiple other accounts of people being ripped off by this clown.

So I knew that I was going to have trouble, so in response to the delaying tactic I got when I reported my non-working keys, I wrote:

Guys, I have a blog with a whole lot of viewers. Please don’t try to get funny with these keys. After my keys didn’t work, I looked into it, and I see that others have reported the same problem:



So I either need to get my money back, or two keys that work. Failure to do either one will result in me publicizing this and reporting fraudulent advertising to Google Ads.

That’s when it took a turn toward the comical. Based on the response, I knew that this scammer was simply trying to wear me down and hope I just wrote it off like a lot of other people have done:

We understand this problem might be frustrating.We are proud to offer one of the best customer service on the market, at no additional cost. Your satisfaction is our priority. We will do everything we can to fully satisfy you.

Per our 100% working guarantee, all products are guaranteed to be 100% working. We would be more than happy to give you all the required technical support at no charge. Our experts are ready to assist you. If you require any instructions, we can send full guide, written in simple words.

Once more I asked for either a refund or keys that worked – or I would take action:

I don’t need technical support, I just need keys that haven’t already been authenticated. The ones you sent me have already been claimed. So please send another pair or refund the money. Otherwise I will just contact the credit card company, dispute the charge, contact Google Ads, and then write a story about this on my blog (and then it will be one of the first things that pops up when someone Googles “Diablo keys.”)

Note that I have made multiple requests for replacement keys, and all I was getting was stalling tactics. So I nearly fell out of my chair laughing when I got the following typo-riddled response. This was supposedly from a Joseph Karlson (joseph.karlson@karlsonandkarlson.com) who claims to have a law firm at www.KarlsonandKarlson.com (located in Toronto).

from Joseph Karlson
to Robert Rapier
date Tue, Oct 27, 2009 at 6:20 PM
subject CEASE AND DESIST- Diablo-Keys.com


Dear sir:

My name is Joseph Karlson and I represent Diablo-Keys.com

This notice is to inform you my client, Diablo-Keys.com, intends to press charges against your person for harassment, defamation, verbal abuse and fraud.

On October 28th, 2009, despite various answers that your cd-keys would be replaced, you have chosen to keep harassing, threatening and insulting my client’s customer support agent. As you are surely aware, such a behavior is not only unethical, but illegal.

For this reason, I now seek reparation on behalf of my customer. We are legally required to inform you that we plan to press charges on October 30th, 2009, unless you complete the following points:

* A complete apology letter for your rude behavior and abuse towards my client’s employees.
* A statement of retraction of everything submitted, posted or writen against my customer.
* A $5,000 compensation for the time and efforts deployed in this case.

If you fail to fulfill the following points by October 30th, 2009, charges will be pressed against you directly in state courts. You will then have to defend yourself directly in court.

Diablo-Keys.com intends to fully pursue you for any damage, interest, claim and compensation caused by this situation. You have fourty-eight (48) hours to complete the above points. By law, you are now considered to have been served the required preliminary notice.

For any further information do not hesitate to communicate with me.

Sincerly yours,
Joseph Karlson

So, not satisfied with simply ripping people off, now he is trying scare tactics that might work on a 12-year-old kid. But the typo-ridden rant above (just like the typo-filled website of this “attorney”) simply made me laugh. How funny is it to claim that there were “various answers that your cd-keys would be replaced” when a simple replacement set could have been sent instead of empty promises to replace the keys?

So after I stopped laughing, I responded to his lame extortion attempt. I also decided that instead of making a “statement of retraction of everything submitted”, I would do the opposite and publish all correspondence:

You are either the stupidest lawyer on the planet, or a fraud like your client to think you can “serve” someone over the Internet and across national borders. Or your client isn’t really your client and is falsifying this response (copying the real Karlson and Karlson in case that is the case). No matter, you picked the wrong person to defraud, and the end game is all the same.

Let me tell you what is going to happen. Your client is committing Internet fraud. He is fraudulently advertising keys to a game. He is guaranteeing that they work, and money back if not satisfied. He is selling keys that have already been sold and used, and therefore do not work.

So here is the deal. I tried to buy these keys for my son’s birthday. I received a lame response from your client informing me that my satisfaction is his highest priority. I informed him that I merely wanted keys that work, and then I received the same message from him again, and now this from you. So here is what is going to happen.

Your client has 12 hours to either refund my money or provide keys that work. Failure to do so will result in the following:

1. I will file a claim with the credit card company, explaining the nature of the fraud. As I have observed already, others have documented this fraud from your client.

2. I will file a report with Google, with whom your client is advertising. This will stop your client from advertising with them, as they will not tolerate fraud.

3. I will file a report with AlertPay, which your client is using to receive money.

4. I will document this on my blog, which has very high traffic. Rest assured that when people Google “D2 Keys”, on the first page of the Google results they will see “Diablo-Keys.com is a Scam.” Google my name if you think I am exaggerating.

5. I will file a report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx)

Now, the ball is in your court. You don’t have to respond with any further lame threats. Your client has never offered to replace the keys; he just keeps saying that my satisfaction is his highest priority. So if you are truly stupid enough to harass me over this, assure that you will be counter-sued for wasting my time – and I think you know you will lose.

12 hours to replace the keys. Any other response will result in Actions 1-5 above, no further response from me, and publication of all correspondence related to this (which will put a damper in your client’s scam). To be honest, I will probably do all of that anyway, but if I get keys that work I might be in a generous mood and forget this ever happened.

Following that, I did go ahead and file reports with the Internet crime division (he may only be scamming $5 at a time, but I hate low-life scammers), I filed a dispute with AlertPay, and I filed a complaint with Google Ads. No response the next morning, so I sent my final communication:

You have had 8 hours. Four more hours and I also have a word with the FBI’s Internet crime division. I think they would be interested in the $5,000 extortion attempt below.

About to get on a plane. When I get off, if I don’t have 2 working keys, or a refund, don’t say you weren’t warned. And I don’t bluff.

This will be the last communication from me.

One more comical response from the “attorney”, who doesn’t seem to understand the difference between civil and criminal law. (I think it obvious that this wasn’t written by an actual lawyer; if it was then it truly is the stupidest lawyer I have ever encountered):

from Joseph Karlson
to Robert Rapier
date Wed, Oct 28, 2009 at 4:19 AM
subject Re: CEASE AND DESIST- Diablo-Keys.com


Dear sir:

Thank you for your response. Any additional evidence is appreciated and only adds to our evidence.

By harassing, threatening and blackmailing my client, Diablo-Keys.com, you have committed fraud under federal law. Although we intend to prosecute you under state laws, this crime is a felony in most of the United States and punishable by up to three years in jail and/or $100,000. As you are without a doubt aware, verbal violence is not tolerated, and Diablo-Keys.com will not make an exception.

As your e-mail was very clear, we will begin legal procedures against Mr. Robert Rapier in the state of Hawaii. Karlson and Karlson is authorized to practice civil law in the United States.

I have recommended my customer to refund your order both to help procedures and to prove good faith in the case of Diablo-Keys.com, Inc Vs. Robert Rapier. For now, you have nothing to do. As required by US Law, every legal document will be served to you. For now, you have nothing to do, except maybe finding a suitable attorney.

Diablo-Keys.com had no choice but to prosecute you to protect its brand, image and quality service. While it is sad this matter couldn’t be settled off court, you have given us very little choice.

For any further information do not hesitate to communicate with me.

Sincerly yours,
Joseph Karlson

LOL! Yes, Diablo-Keys is going to “prosecute me.” Oh no, I have to get an attorney. I might go to jail for three years! What a douche. Then the scammer himself responded twice more:

from Lawrence Irwin “joyandmercy@gmail.com”
to Robert Rapier
date Wed, Oct 28, 2009 at 4:09 AM
subject Re: CEASE AND DESIST- Diablo-Keys.com

Thank you for the additional evidence. I know you mentionned this was the last communication, but please keep writing to us: every e-mail is more and more evidence and our lawyer LOVES it.

Our lawyer has been very strict: we are unable to make comment this situation. We will see each other in court.

Sincerly yours,

So Lawrence Irwin (which is probably just a name this loser is hiding behind) at joyandmercy@gmail.com, is “unable to make comment” on the advice of his make-believe attorney. But stupid people rarely know when to shut up. So two minutes later, he sends this:

Yes, continuing the theme of illiteracy, “such it hard” is his answer. He must have gotten help with the spelling from his “attorney.”

So if you happened upon this because you were trying to determine whether http://www.diablo-keys.com/ is a scam, now you know. Here is how the scam goes:

1. He sells you invalid keys that have no value (and because you can find invalid keys from free from lots of places). You pay $5 because he claims they are new.
2. You report that the keys are invalid, and he promises to investigate.
3. He sits tight and hopes you forget all about it.
4. If you are persistent, he has his make-believe attorney write a threatening letter.
5. If you continue to be persistent, he refunds your money, lashes out like a two-year-old, and has his make-believe attorney send another letter.

It is just brilliant enough to have been crafted by a couple of 7th grade dropouts.

If you are coming here because you have gotten a pair of bad keys and are trying to get resolution, my recommendation is to file a fraud complaint and dispute the charge. If the guy had any actual working keys, he would have sent them instead of refunding my money after I made multiple requests for a replacement, before finally disputing the charge.

The guy could have had an actual business, but instead tries to scam people, and then scare them if they complain. If you are looking for a legitimate site for Diablo keys, after this experience I went to http://www.mmo1st.com/ and got a pair of working keys for $7. No problem at all from them, unlike the scammer/con artist/fraud at Diablo-Keys.com who will charge you $5 and then proceed to waste your time.

October 13, 2009 Posted by | Diablo, games, off topic, scammers, scams | Comments Off on Exposing a Two-Bit Scammer

Updates on the Diablo Scammer

Update 12-09-09: All of the scammer’s websites that he tried to use when scamming me are now offline. Further, I am cooperating with the authorities to actually track him down and bring him to justice. You can read about the initial account here: Exposing a Two-Bit Scammer

Update 12-03-09: This saga has also been mentioned over at The Consumerist. (And thank you to people who have forwarded me game keys). There are two things I want to clear up. First, I am not the person who posted the story at Reddit. I only became aware of the story because I saw the traffic coming in from Reddit on my Stat Counter.

Second, a number of the commenters at The Consumerist have alluded to the idea that I was trying to buy illegal keys. That is absolutely untrue. I have the software and licenses already, and I had it installed on the computer I was using. I was attempting to buy another pair of licenses so my son and I would both have licensed copies so we could play online together. People do legally sell licenses to software all the time. (As one poster at the Consumerist noted, the Consumerist has hosted “morning deals” for Diablo CD keys). I just looked around and thought I found the best deal. If I buy your licensed copy from you, there is nothing illegal about you selling it to me. And since I have the software, all I needed was a license. (Explained well by this commenter at The Consumerist).

I have a hard time believing that if people are setting up websites and selling cracked licenses that Blizzard isn’t shutting them down. After all, the last time I checked Blizzard’s attorneys had essentially stopped people from selling game items on eBay – and this used to be a big business. So I had no reason to think there was anything shady here. Come on, do you think I would have written about it if that was the case? If people are setting up websites – and advertising with Google Ads – to sell cracked licenses, then this is news to me. But I admit this is not something I know a whole lot about.

Update 12-02-09: For those linking in from Reddit, yes, www.d2key.com is the same guy running the scam at www.diablo-keys.com. (Update 12-07-09: As of today both sites are offline, as is that of the fake law firm. The former because the guy “sold out” of keys. LOL! If you follow any of the threads below, that mantra of “I am making loads of money” is very consistent with the behavior of my scammer; he would make this claim in every e-mail he sent to me. He apparently has a self-esteem problem, trying to compensate for his inadequacies by lying about making lots of money).

For those who doubt this, here are screen shots showing both sites at the same IP address (courtesy of Reddit viewers):

Regarding that, our scammer says “I do not have a good response for that (yet).” Translation: I haven’t yet thought of a plausible explanation for that. He has now changed it, but that was the case earlier today. There are also reports at Reddit that the initial support e-mail was listed as the same for both websites (again, now changed). I also have very specific other proofs that I am not going to share publicly, but have shared with Reddit moderators.

File a claim with PayPal immediately and let them know what he is doing. He reinvented himself because PayPal banned him for running the original scam (more on that below). This guy isn’t just a scammer, he is a complete scumbag; twice threatening to harm my elementary school aged son. (I published one of the threats below; the first one was so graphic and horrible I am not publishing it).

He will be glad to know that he is getting the kind of exposure I promised him: around 3,000 views from Reddit today and rising. Thanks Reddit readers! Oh, and someone at Reddit proved that the “law firm” threatening to sue – Karlson and Karlson – is indeed fake as I presumed. Too bad. I wanted to see this scumbag in court.

October 8, 2009 Posted by | Diablo, games, off topic, scammers, scams | Comments Off on Updates on the Diablo Scammer