After having studied the subject of crowdsourcing in general, when I began to study the subject of crowdfunding in particular, a question arose: “So what happens if someone says he’s going to pay some money, but then, either by life circumstances or by a malicious action he can’t (or doesn’t want to) pay the amount agreed? “.
Well, that question that struck me long ago, recently has come true in the great and famous crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. As indicated by some media (national and international), a user identified as “Encik Farhan”, supposedly from Malaysia, began to make contributions of big amounts (often more than $ 1,000) in a total of 153 crowdfunding projects in the Kickstarter platform. After two or three months, when he received the rewards (he used to make large contributions to receive the best rewards), Encik Farhan registered a dispute about that charge. For those who do not know, a dispute of this type can challenge the charges made on a credit card for an item that has not been requested or for products or services that are delivered damaged.
In this way the user is left with both the reward and the money contributed.
The first to denounce this situation was Alex Heberling, an artist who sought funding for his webcomic The Hues through a Kickstarter campaign. What happened to Alex is that, once she announced that she had sent the rewards by mail, she received the cancellation of the contribution of Encik Farhan, who had contributed with $ 1,000 (20% of the amount requested in the project). Besides this project, Encik Farhan has damaged to varying degrees other as Piper (a small printer), Salvage Trader (a video game) or Control (a comic). From here you can see a screenshot with the various projects in which he participated (the screenshot was made by Alex Heberling).
Kickstarter is not going to take care of the money swindled, so there is a new task for the users who have launched campaigns: bear the cost and try to adjust their budget to make their project succeed.
The criticisms to Kickstarter have been quick: why was that user still in the crowdfunding platform (it was later deleted), why users can not “inform against” (in the Facebook way) funders who do not pay, etc.. Kickstarter has defended itself by arguing that users can contact the platform to “inform against” scam funders and that his intention is that something this never happens again. From Kickstarter, they explained:
Las críticas hacia Kickstarter no se han hecho esperar: cómo es que todavía estaba activo su usuario (fue eliminado posteriormente), que los usuarios no pueden “denunciar” (tipo Facebook) a los financiadores que no cumplen, etc. Kickstarter se ha defendido argumentando que los usuarios sí que pueden ponerse en contacto con la plataforma para “denunciar” usuarios y que su intención es que algo así no vuelva a suceder. En declaraciones del equipo de comunicación de Kickstarter:
Kickstarter and Amazon Payments, our US payments processor, were recently alerted to a series of malicious pledges by a single individual to more than 100 Kickstarter projects. Upon learning this information, we shut down this person’s account, canceled their live pledges, and permanently banned them from Kickstarter.
Kickstarter and Amazon are working together to investigate this situation. We won’t let a single bad apple harm the integrity or goodwill of our incredible community.
This Kickstarter scam joins other facts, such as the publication and success of projects morally unacceptable, have hinted that crowdfunding giant also has its weaknesses.