Online Communities Bust Kickstarter Scam

from the well-done dept

Amidst all the recent talk of just how successful Kickstarter has been as a platform for creators raising money, some people have suggested that the company may run into problems down the road because it seems ripe for fraud. Of course, most things are ripe for fraud in one way or another, so Kickstarter isn’t exactly special in that regard—and when fraud does happen, people will fight it just like they do anywhere else.

At least, that was certainly the case with a recent video game project on Kickstarter that turned out to be fake. As BetaBeat reports, the crowdsourcing scam was exposed by a crowdsourced investigation:

… a campaign for an action video game, MYTHIC: The Story Of Gods and Men, has just been busted by forum users at Reddit, SomethingAwful and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. The creators claimed to be an independent studio, “Little Monster Productions,” of 12 industry veterans in Hollywood. “Our team has done a significant amount of work on the World of Warcraft series as well as Diablo 2 and the original Starcraft,” says the project page.

Bullshit, said the Internet. Turns out the art was cribbed, the text for backer rewards was copied and pasted from another Kickstarter project, and even the office photos were from another game studio, Burton Design Group.

When people brought their accusations to the Kickstarter comments, the developers made a few weak attempts at deflection then quietly shut down having raised just under $5,000 (far short of their goal, so that money won’t actually be released). With Kickstarter gaining more attention every day, we’re sure to see more attempts at scams—and maybe even some successes—but with a savvy community that polices itself like this, the scammers face an uphill battle.

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Companies: kickstarter, reddit

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Comments on “Online Communities Bust Kickstarter Scam”

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27 Comments
Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re:

I was thinking the same thing. Can’t you just see a swath of grandstanding politicians stating:

“Kickstarter has gotten so big now that it’s potential for fraud and abuse is massive. As such, we’ve decided to dismantle it in favor of something much smaller and easier to manage.”

Followed by a small hand shooting up in the back of the assembled masses, saying, “Um, can we do that to you, then?”

CrowdSecrets (profile) says:

Crowd Policing

I read everyday now about fraud in crowdfunding. It seems that the sentiment is Crowdfunding will fail due to fraud. I am see a different picture with this story. It looks like the Crowd is ready and able to take on the role of policing and stopping fraud. KickStarter owns a little of the blame for this fraud as I believe by being more diligent during the front end screening process they could have stopped this project from ever being approved.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Wall Street were much more transparent so the Wall Street, Bankers, Investors etc could police themselves and stop the fraud.

I believe that both the 99% crowd and the 1% crowd are capable of policing fraud.

CrowdSecrets (profile) says:

Crowd Policing

There are enough crowd viewers to investigate and pick up on plagiarism but it will be more difficult to stop a fraud using the crowd if the project is a perpetrated scam and not caught by KickStarter. KickStarter and the other clones really need to be more diligent in this area. KickStarter needs to utilize investigators to ensure authenticity. The platform with the highest rating for authenticity will win the game and over time the others will fall by the wayside due to lack of trust.

I would like to see KickStarter be proactive and allow the crowd to be more involved in authenticity due diligence throughout the project. They could add a “Like” button with a bar graph:showing the number of viewers, number of likes and dislikes with a Twitter message field of 160 characters to state the reason why the like or dislike to the project organizer with the option to send as a tweet and the organizers to respond.

Cowardly Anonymous says:

Re:

There’s always some paranoid person on the fence that’ll do the legwork. If you want to make your goal, you have to put forward a lot of detail with a decent number of updates or already be decently well known and respected. That’s easy enough for a passionate group that cares more about making their product than a quick buck. It is kind of hard for a scammer to keep everyone from seeing the truth in that environment.

PaulT (profile) says:

I remember similar things being said about open source – that because anyone can modify code, it would be easy to make widespread trojans and viruses, and even build backdoors to all of your data into Linux. Years later, there haven’t been made real scares, and those that have happened have generally been pretty well dealt with by the communities involved.

I’ll just chalk this one down to the usual scare tactics, used by people finding they can no longer use the “it will never work” complaints so they have to spend FUD instead…

Anonymous Coward says:

There was also a copy of the “Grim Dawn” Kickstarter placed on indiegogo a few days ago. After someone found out about it, they briefly renamed it “TrimDude” and then made a fake video for it by altering the official one. It got taken down pretty quick and I don’t think anyone had given money, but it’s another good example of weird scam attempts.

WysiWyg (profile) says:

Crowd Policing

There’s a world of difference. Here it was the people who was in danger of being defrauded that did the investigation and policing. What you’re suggesting is that the people who commit the fraud do the policing. We have seen countless times that whenever you give people a choice between doing “The Right Thing” and “The Thing That Benefits Them The Most” without outside oversight, to many choose the latter.

JMag says:

Fraud is starting to Kick at Kickstarter

I’ve backed over a dozen projects on Kickstarter, but am now seeing fraud starting to really infiltrate into the whole Kickstarter experience–and not just people offering lame products. We recently funded a project back at the beginning of February 2012, called CamCrate. It’s now June 2012 and the guy behind the project, Matthew Geyster, seems to have completely disappeared.

When you contact Kickstarter, they say there is nothing they can do. Amazon Payments, who processes the payments, gives no better response. And because he dragged it out over 90 days, we have no recourse through our credit card companies. My suggestion for future backers is don’t let it go more than 30-45 days before using your credit card company’s fraud protection.

Many of the backers of the project are now beginning to contact local and federal prosecutors to see what can be done about this. BEWARE!

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