I don’t know where to start.

I guess it would be easier if I just started from the beginning of this unfortunate story.

Being a long-time yaoi fan, I had an idea last year for a yaoi-themed subscription box. Before launching what was to become the FUJObox campaign, I had to overcome one major hurdle, which was to find a reliable supplier as well as someone who could package and send boxes each month. I basically had two options at the time: either shipping boxes from the country where I lived at the time — Thailand, or shipping them from Japan. After doing some research, I soon realized that shipping the boxes from Thailand would be far too expensive due to the import taxes and transport costs involved with ordering items in bulk from a Japanese supplier. My only option was therefore to try to find a reliable partner in Japan.

Fortunately — or so I thought at the time, one of my friends in Japan had done business with a man named Tsurime Matsuda. I was assured by my friend that this man not only had extensive experience in dealing with suppliers and shipping products overseas, but also was a reliable and honest partner. After talking with him several times and reading a list of glowing references he sent me, I then negotiated a deal with him that would only come into effect if the Indiegogo campaign for the FUJObox was successful.

Now that this final hurdle was cleared, I decided to launch the campaign. At this point, I’m going to have to disclose some details about my personal life, not as a way to garner sympathy but just so you can understand the whole situation. Two years ago, I started suffering from a deep depression as well as panic attacks and agoraphobia. I quit my job as a teacher at a private language center and basically stayed home for the next two years, apart from twice-weekly trips to the local mall to buy groceries. In early 2016, with no income and the money in my bank account dwindling at a fast rate, I started working from home as a freelance writer, something I had already done a few years prior. Right before launching the first Indiegogo campaign, I had roughly $2,000 saved in my bank account. Since I didn’t have an existing following of yaoi fans on social media, I decided to invest some of that money in the form of Facebook, AdWords and Twitter ads to try to get the campaign out there and get the ball rolling. During the first Indiegogo campaign, I spent roughly $500 of my own money on ads which, given the money raised for the campaign was a relative success. After that campaign ended, I analyzed the numbers and calculated the CPA (Cost per Acquisition, in other words the cost to get a new customer) and realized that by focusing on the ads that did work, I could probably get an even better result with a second campaign. In total, the money I invested in ads was over $1,600, basically almost all of money. I was fine with it, however, given the fact that both campaigns had raised a fair amount of money and that a good number of those initial backers would in time have turned into loyal customers.

Shortly after the second campaign ended, I transfered the money raised to my new Japanese partner to allow him to order the items that should have been included in the initial boxes as well as customized shipping supplies. The day I transfered the money was the last time I ever spoke with him. Since then, he has changed telephone numbers and canceled his email account. Attempts to contact him at the address he gave me have also been unsuccessful. This left me --and you, in an unfortunate situation: the money raised was gone, my own money was gone as well and no boxes were ever going to be shipped, leaving my long list of initial backers frustrated, sad and angry.

So, this is the whole story. Now that I’ve told you what happened, there are a few things that I think you deserve to know.

First off, I am entirely responsible for this whole debacle. I am the one who failed to perform due diligence on my partner. Ultimately, I am the person to blame. Over the past six months, I have received countless angry messages from backers by email and on social media. My email address has also been spammed to death and people have even called some of my friends to complain about me. I deserve all that — and more — because I did betray your trust.

This leads me to my second point. While I read all your emails and messages, I did not reply to any of them or post an update on the campaign pages. The reason was that I felt too ashamed by the whole situation and didn’t know how to respond to it. Ultimately, however, that is not a valid excuse and you guys deserved to know what happened. I fully apologize for this.

My last point — and probably the most important point for you — is about the money raised during the campaigns. I fully intend to reimburse each and everyone of you. Unfortunately, as some of you may already know if you follow me on Twitter, the money I lost during both campaigns caused me to lose my home. In January, I was sent back to Belgium by my embassy where I now reside at a homeless shelter. Reimbursing the money that was raised will therefore take time and I will probably only be able to refund one backer at a time.

In conclusion, I would like once again to apologize for this mess. I betrayed your trust and there is just no excuse for it.

Nicolas