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was funded in part by the ones that were not successful. Whether the funds received (and no product sent) went to resin, shipping, rent, food, internet access, electricity, etc., it's all helped fund the few/many successful transactions.
It the attitude, "I feel bad for you, but I got mine" that allows this to perpetuate for decades. I first saw mention of this on the old rec.models.scale newsgroup way back in the 90s.