Over the past couple years PayPal donations have become a major element of Twitch streamer income. In many cases, the top streamers make much more money from donations provided by viewers than they do from ad revenue and subscriptions. It's no wonder that virtually every top streamer places great emphasis on how gifted funds are handled mid-stream.
Viewers donate for a variety of reasons. Some like to know that they are contributing to the well-being a streamer that they enjoy watching. Others donate simply for recognition, as streamers will automatically display the username of donators on-screen, and even go as far as thank the viewer by name. Not everyone has good intentions, though.
A small number of viewers donate large sums of money in order to create a stir with no intention of honoring the donation. Donations of this type have commonly been in the tens of thousands of dollars, naturally resulting in hysteria from the streamer and his or her viewers.
The most notable case of this in the past few months was perpetrated by Twitch user iNexus_Ninja. This user reportedly is a young adult with a wealthy family and plenty of disposable income. Instead of using his money for good, last month he decided to troll Twitch by donating between $1,000 and $6,000 to more than 10 streamers. He got what he wished for: surprise and excitement. But that never lasts forever, and after the funds cleared he decided to request a refund on PayPal.
Traditionally—and I mean in 99.999999% of cases—PayPal issues the refund without any second thought due to how its policies only "protect" transactions where a physical item is involved along with tracking information. Not this time. PayPal refused to accept the refund request issued by iNexus_Ninja. He apparently made multiple attempts to get his money back, but was unsuccessful.
Ultimately, the 10+ streamers involved have walked away with some extra income, and the troll has lost somewhere in the neighborhood of $50,000.
This is unprecedented in the realm of donation trolling. A quick search on YouTube showcases dozens of instances of viewers donating thousands of dollars before successfully obtaining a refund. This has left many streamers saddened and untrustworthy of large donations, even when they are legitimate.
You could argue that justice was served justly in this scenario. It's unclear if PayPal intends to present a similar outcome to other situations heading into the future. Whatever the case, donation trolls will want to tread lightly.