Crowdfunding is a great way to raise money. It's also a great way to hardcore scam people, and we're looking for the worst swindles, hoodwinks and old-fashioned ponzi schemes populating the teeming and poorly-regulated underbelly of the money-grubbing dream industry that you've seen. O Come All Ye Crowdfunding Horror Stories!
Most major platforms, from Kickstarter to GoFundMe, have a deliberately lax approach to rooting out bullshit. There's really no incentive to take a hard line: The proliferation of scams has left plenty of frustrated donors, but it hasn't stopped people from pulling out their wallets. When projects get funded, these platforms take a cut — so as long as negative publicity is outweighed by sweet, sweet scam cash, crowdfunding platforms are going to remain fertile ground for scams.
That sucks. And while everyone should keep in mind that giving money to crowdfunding campaigns will never have a guaranteed outcome — it's donating money to support an idea, not investing in or buying a finished product — it's not ok that crowdfunding sites are playing dumb and getting rich by enabling fraud. We want to put more pressure on them to enforce quality control and help people get refunds from scammers. We want to raise awareness about how frequently people get away with ripping off crowdfunding supporters.
If you know of a fraudulent crowdfunding campaign, share your story in the comments.
GIF: Jim Cooke