Entheology.com interviewed the owner of one of the oldest online botanical shops to write us a quick article regarding his personal experience with an incredible abuse of power by MasterCard last year:
He said “2013 was an absolute disaster for both me, my business, and my employees. In April of 2013, Chase bank accused us of selling Salvia divinorum (something we can easily prove we weren’t doing; Salvia divinorum became illegal in Illinois in 2008), called up Bank of America and asked them for an enormous fine that exceeded our balance for “tarnishing” the good MasterCard name that freely allows weapons and pornography through its credit card system.
If that wasn’t enough, Bank of America then opened our corporate bank account further to MasterCard, and handed them tens of thousands of dollars more (we already had a large negative balance, so there was no actual money to hand over), just in case our stellar charge-back record of an incredibly low 0.1% over a decade of processing credit cards suddenly shot up to 30% or more.
We, of course, didn’t have enough money in the account to cover the money that Bank of America handed over to Chase Bank and MasterCard, so I had to shut down on the spot, or try to fight back. I chose to pull money from everywhere I could, taking out a loan against my house, maxing out my credit cards, and cashing in the little bit of money I had invested in mutual funds, just to try to get back to a zero balance at Bank of America.
Once the shock of that was settling in, I was alerted to an almost harsher reality: I had also been “TMF’d” by MasterCard, which means I was unilaterally blacklisted by MasterCard, and given a “Terminated Merchant File” status. That means I was basically convicted of credit card fraud, without a trial, without a hearing, and literally, by an accountant who, one day, decided we were guilty of something we are not only completely innocent of, but can easily prove our innocence in regards to as well.
As of this writing, despite repeated attempts by the attorney I had to hire, MasterCard refuses to give us that chance, but promise to get back to us as soon as they can. In the meantime, damages against my company and employees continue to stack up in the tens of thousands in dollars alone.
For me; over a decade of often-painstaking work that I believed deeply in was destroyed. My 22 employees suddenly had to be alerted that I had prepared unemployment documentation for them and their families, as I had massive negative balance in my bank account to pay them with. My business life was destroyed in an instant, the livelihood of 15 of my employees arbitrarily destroyed as well. And they were literally destroyed over an arbitrary decision by a single person at MasterCard, who’s identity is actually being shielded from me, preventing me from mounting a proper investigation into what appears to me as an egregious abuse of power.
If it’s not obvious enough already, one entity should not be able to wield that much power.
Even more frustrating, is that Bank of America and other banks have recently jumped at the chance to enter the illegal drug business: Yes, more than one bank is leaping at the chance to get into medical and recreational marijuana industry. Regardless of state laws, marijuana is still a “Schedule I” substance on a Federal level and as George Bush said; “If you support illegal drugs, you’re supporting terrorism.”
So, the President of the United States has, by default, branded my bank, Chase Bank, and MasterCard as terrorists because they’re supporting an Federally illegal drug trade. Yet they’re still able to decide the fate of entire businesses by a click of a button. And, I’m the real-life person who’s still suffering the consequences of their, according to my attorney; illegal acts. For over a decade, I and my team of dedicated, loyal employees worked overtime to ensure that we were following the letter of the law in relation to the botanicals, incenses, and dietary supplements.
All of that was literally taken away in an instant last year and I’m still struggling to get back on my feet. I am now unable to accept credit cards for my business for a period of 7 years, effectively preventing my from doing business. I never dreamed a system could be so broken. I had no idea that in he United States, a single entity, shielded from any consequence, can destroy individual’s lives, and businesses that work hard to stay on the right side of the law.
Why should you care about any of this? I’m not exactly sure. I was asked to tell my story as briefly as possible, so here it is. If you know anyone who can fight these kinds of legal battles, please feel free to contact admin at entheology dot com and they will pass this on to the business owner on your behalf. Or, if you had a similar experience, please feel free to comment below.
I have a question, when you got the fine, did you ship the pending orders that were paid for?
Because that is what caused the TMF. MasterCard put you on there due to high chargeback ratio.
Anyway this story really sucks but botanicals are considered high risk and that is why dealing with off-shore banks is the only way to go in this business.
It is a horrible business being controlled by the banks. I am surprised by the fine usually they just freeze the account. It looks like maybe the bank got fined for a merchant violating the TOS and passed the fine along to you.
But yes it looks like you were wrongly accused and not granted a fair trial. Horrible story indeed
My bank contacted me because visa/mastercard has created an alert about my website. All products are totally legal, I don’t sell Salvia divinorum since 2014 because this plant is now illegal to France.
However I haven’t sold it for 2 years, but it appears visa/mastercard want to control some products I sell.
I should have the full explanation tomorrow.
I am really afraid because of this article. I think they want to delete my Kratom products, however Kratom is not controlled in France. I fear the worst.
Fearing the worst is what you need to be doing. Visa and Mastercard have targeted Kratom, despite the fact that it remains legal. They claim that this important medicine that has already clinically proven itself to aid those addicted to heroin and pharmaceutical drugs in getting off those dangerous drugs, damages their reputation. They stole over $200,000.00 from my company using that claim.
They will not force you to remove your Kratom products, they will completely cut you off, and if that isn’t painful enough, they will fine you $205,000.00, and will also give you a “TMF”. A “TMF” stands for “terminated merchant file” which prevents you from getting any kind of credit card processing for at least 7 years. Once the 7 years pass, you will only be able to get “high risk” credit card processing.
You have the choice choice to get out while you can. I don’t mean to be a fear monger, but the threat is real, and many have not only been hurt financially, many have been put in prison because of this important medicine.
Keep up the fight,
We had the lowest chargeback ratio in the industry. And that would have been AWESOME of the credit card company was basing it on that. We shipped 100% of the pending orders to keep our reputation, so as valid as your theory sounds, it’s simply not true.
MasterCard had an issue with our website, they fined us $205,000.00 that we didn’t have, and now I have no home. And, up until 2013, exotic botanicals were NOT considered high risk. I was vividly clear in the websites we were engaging in a contract with MasterCard with. I was as transparent as I could be, yet we got caught up in a sweep targeting SALVIA DIVINORUM. Because we simply said “We do NOT sell Salvia divinorum”, that was enough for MasterCard, and they shut us down, kept 6 months reserve, and fined us $205,000.00.
When we tried to fight, it took us months to get to an attorney who knew anything about the case. That attorney said this to us: “Let me tell you something that you’re not going to like, but will save you a lot of money and grief. It will take you at least $50,000.00 – $100,000.00 just to step into the ring with us. We have teams of attorneys funded by one of the largest corporations on the planet, backed by virtually all the banks in the world. You will lose. Even if you are 100% in the right and we made a mistake, we will find something to hang you by, and you will lose.”
I shit you not.
Fighting the good fight,
This is why the central banking system should never have enormous power over everyone. As the author found out, they can destroy your life with the push of a button.
If you read the book by Gary Allen “The Rockefeller File”, you will know why the Rockefellers and Rothschilds became so involved in banking, and will also see why this whole shove to go ‘paperless’ and ‘cashless’ is a very big mistake. Say no to bitcoin! Say NO to credit cards, especially the ones like Chase and MC, any that are affiliated with the big banks in New York.
If you have a bank account with one of the giant banks, withdraw your money and go with a credit union. They are much nicer to deal with. And, start using cash and checks! If at all possible, stop using credit cards. This is how they will enslave us all. And, it’s not a conspiracy theory, just look at Anthony Rousseau (he was a director/producer in Hollywood, made the move Trading Places) and the story about what the Mellons offered him when they were trying to ‘court’ him to be on their side. They want a microchip with ALL your information on it, so if you don’t do what ‘they say’, they’ll just turn your chip off, and boom, your ‘life’ is gone. Like flushing your ‘smart phone’ down the toilet.