Scams on Indiegogo Endangering Kickstarter Campaigns
Crowdfunding has become a huge way for the community to get involved with the projects they want to see come to fruition. While these platforms are supposed to be vehicles for good, it seems that scammers have been copying successful Kickstarter campaigns on Indiegogo, siphoning funds that would have gone to the true project. Is any campaign safe, game or otherwise?
Kickstarter, by far the most popular crowdfunding site, has been home to many a project. Indiegogo isn't too far behind, but is different on a few levels. While Kickstarter's payment policy is that the funders' money goes through once the campaign is successfully completed, Indiegogo's policy allows payment to follow through with PayPal immediately with their "flexible funding" model. It's typically poor etiquette to use multiple crowdfunding sites for the same project, so if you see a doubled campaign, something's fishy.
There have been at least four cases thus far where Kickstarter projects have been copied, picture for picture, word for word, on Indiegogo. The ShopBot Handibot and Pirate3D Buccaneer 3D printer are two with larger monetary goals, plus two comic campaigns, Hinges and Like a Virus. Each project's content was found on Indiegogo under slightly different names. Once discovered, the original owners or community notified Indiegogo of the fraud and they were dealt with; however, it appears that Indiegogo isn't actively trying to prevent this.
Despite Indiegogo's security protocols, the fake campaigns slipped through. The Head of Communications Marketing didn't elaborate on their internal protocols for handling the fraudulent cases, but remarked that they are "pleased with [their] success working with [their] partners at PayPal to eliminate fraud." With the huge growth in crowdfunding, lax security measures could mean more scammers wiggling through the cracks.
Of course, Kickstarter isn't immune to fraud on its own fronts, as evidenced by The Doom That Came to Atlantic City board game. Though it had received its goal amount, the owner blew through the funders' money and left them without the rewards and product they were promised. Though it seems it didn't start out with ill intentions, the outcome was similar to what the Indiegogo scammers' goals intended.
It's already hard enough to earn funding, let alone followers' trust when it comes to reaching any range of campaign targets. With doppelgänger projects popping up, potential funders are confused and taken advantage of, pooling their money into false accounts easily through Indiegogo's payment model.
How do we prevent this?
The community can be wary and helpful, but campaign owners can keep tabs on who's talking about their projects. Like a Virus co-creator Ken Lowley suggested on Comics Alliance to put Google Alerts on both your name and project name, or any project-specific terms found in the posting. If you find that the wrong crowdfunding platform is getting paired with your project, you'll know something's gone awry.
Also, a Google Chrome extension called TinEye tracks where a picture originates from plus any other places it's being used. It might be an effort sifting through the pictures if your campaign is buzzworthy and circulating everywhere, but it's one option.
And for people who are Kickstarter and Indiegogo supporters, do your homework. You don't want anyone snatching your money away. Double check and make sure the project is legitimate. Luckily, most projects are deserving and have people of integrity and creativity behind them, so don't shy away.
Just be smart.
Originally Published Aug. 2nd 2013