When we lost everything to a house fire two days before my due date for my son’s birth and the insurance company did not compensate us adequately, I took my story online and had some response. Mostly from others who had been or knew someone who had been through the same experience as we with their insurance company. I created Just Prevail to raise awareness about bad faith insurance and to fundraise to rebuild my family home. But the more stories that I heard of people just like us, the more I felt compelled to do something more. I decided to not only fundraise for my family, but to put some of the proceeds aside to make my website a platform where others could share their stories and try to rebuild their lives too.
At the onset I met a “young man” to be polite….He was a well known expert in the crowdfunding industry. He offered to help me get started as I didn’t know the first thing about crowdfunding or social media. The last thing I had written was probably an English assignment in school. I paid him $500 for which he said he would register me a domain and set me up a website. I still remember the excitement I felt when he told me “You are now the new owner of justprevail.com”. He told me I needed to write a few articles about my ordeal and intentions and told me that it was it was neccessary to come across strong and positive. Not needy. He set up a Twitter account & facebook page for me and he scheduled around the clock tweets and posted my blogs on the facebook page.
As time went on, I noticed he was using my accounts to promote other crowdfunding campaigns. He became short tempered with me, deliberately causing arguments. We had never met and always spoke through messages and emails. I am a very good “reader of people” and I could feel something else at work. Sure enough, one day he just started nonsense out of the blue to create another argument and said he wasn’t going to help me anymore (after taking more money from me for what he claimed were hosting fees) . He told me that since he had done all of the work, Just Prevail was his. He locked me out of the administration panel of the website and the social media accounts. Based on previous conversations, actions and reading between the lines, I knew his plan was to use Just Prevail as an affiliate site for other crowdfunding companies.
I panicked. I went to the police. I had records of my emails with him stating that the website and social media accounts were mine. I had receipts for the Paypal transactions I had paid him for my website and additional hosting fees. But there was still little the police could do. They told me I would need to file a civil suit against him. “Just great,” I thought to myself as we had just finished a losing 3 year legal battle with our insurance company.
I contacted the President of the National Crowdfunding Association of Canada. The young man was very well known to them. Being the upstanding organization that they are, the President did step in and became involved. I had threatened to go public. He spoke with the “young man” and he agreed to give me back my website and social networks. However months passed and numerous emails took place but he did not return my website or social accounts to me.
It was then that I decided to contact the hosting company. The young man had bragged many times to me and often “reminded’ me the great deal I was getting since his friend owned the hosting company. His friend was in great shock when I telephoned him and sent by fax, copies of my transactions, as he had never been paid for the hosting fees. I had actually called at the eleventh hour because he was going to change his servers the next day and my website would be gone forever. He turned everything over me to me and wished me the best of luck. I am still grateful to this day for his integrity.
I immediately called a web designer and he came to my parents house (where we’ve been staying since the fire). He transferred my site to a new hosting company and all was saved. It was that day I vowed to do the rest of the work for my website, my social media accounts and my mission myself. I would trust no one ever again. It was a tough lesson learned.
From there on I studied crowdfunding, digital design and social media even more. I am learning everything from online tutorials and Youtube videos. I have met many helpful people along the way and joined many empowering networks. I am proud to say I walk beside some of the strongest thought leaders out there, trying to make a difference in the world.
I saved this post as a draft for a long time, hesitant to post it. I felt a bit like a sucker again. However, I feel it’s an important part of my journey to share. While this has been a major setback, I will not let it defeat me. I’ve come so far, that I will not let anyone break or shake me. This is just another obstacle to make me stronger. It serves as another reminder to have faith and believe in myself . It’s another opportunity to persevere through whatever comes my way. I will succeed no matter how long it takes. I may not be there yet, but I am closer than yesterday.