Fake crowdfunding campaign: How not to be a victim

No one likes to be lied to. Especially when it comes to supporting projects and expecting not only a perfected product but a trustworthy relationship with the project team.

A crowdfunding campaign is a big responsibility – creators get finances and backers have great expectations. Unfortunately, there are also irresponsible projects that decide to abuse people’s trust. Of course, all the crowdfunding platforms are trying to get full honesty from creators. Sometimes, however, even giants such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo are helpless.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t smell a fake campaign from miles away. It can be done. And here’s how.

We are the first in the world… a unique product… revolutionary technology…

If it sounds too good, it probably won’t be true. In the past, the creativity of some projects has been able to blind the trust of hundreds of backers.

For example, the Triton campaign promised a special diving technology that was at least twice more efficient and innovative than what the leaders in the industry offered. Of course, the truth was far from reality. But wait, that’s not everything.

Since the beginning of the campaign, experts have warned people that this technology is too unreal. No one has listened to them. Triton collected more than $600,000 just to give their backers… absolutely nothing.

Crowdfunding is firstly about the confidence in the campaign and it doesn’t come as a surprise that backers weren’t able to find out it was all fake – even though they were warned. But what everybody can do whenever the campaign proudly proclaims to have “a unique technology,” to be “a revolution in the industry,” or claims to provide “technology of tomorrow” is to open Google and read a few articles on the topic. It takes only 10 minutes and it can save you a lot of money. In the case of Triton, more than $600,000.

Show me something that works!

This should be the basic requirement of every backer, but Skarp’s laser razor proves the opposite.

Let’s put it simply. Skarp was a dysfunctional product and it was obvious at first glance.

What are the lessons learned here? The prototype is not everything. What is important is the functionality which is the key factor in every product. If you find a campaign with a good product and want to support it, just make sure you check all the facts, FAQs or even ask the project team about how the product works.

Warning: Lack of communication undermines confidence

Imagine that you support a project with hundreds of other backers, and after the campaign ends, the creators stop communicating. What’s more, you are redirected to the crowdfunding campaign once you visit the company’s website. Something’s not right.

You’re probably already guessing that this is not fiction. The creators of the Jive earbuds did exactly that. They simply stopped communicating and the backers had a clear reason to worry.

Lessons learned? If you stand on the side of the creators, keep in mind that you need to communicate regularly with your backers. And if you supported a project, you should choose a proactive approach and contact the creator on your own in case of any problems. Alternatively, you can go even further and report the suspicious campaign.

Sometimes it’s too obvious

Occasionally, you run into some campaigns that are screaming right into your face: ”I’m a fake campaign.”

Kobe Red Beef Jerky is an example of such a sad scenario. Why? Because this campaign is one of a few that was shut down by Kickstart itself. What’s more, it was shut down based on a very bad feedback of the backers and the Kickstarter community.

The creators of Kobe Red lied in their fake references, promised videos of tasting that were never provided to backers and provided misleading information on the campaign. Result? One of the flops in the history of Kickstarter.

See for yourself if you would be willing to support the campaign if you had to decide according to the information provided on the campaign site.

We think backers had a good reason to be alarmed.

5 steps you need to take to avoid fake campaigns

Good and trustworthy creators don’t choose crowdfunding only for the money. They do it for the overall support, awareness, validation, and quality of the product. They do it because they want their ideas to be transformed into reality. If there’s something that can easily distinguish true creators from the fake ones, it’s the brand and the good name of the company.

Most fake campaigns are made in a hurry – creators need fast money – so if you want to verify the relevance of the campaign, follow these steps.

  1. Campaign goal: Fake campaigns have very unrealistic or illogical goals. Very often, the goals are low, so that the project is easily funded with just a few pledges or backers. To stay objective, we recommend that you always look at other campaigns from a similar segment – to see if the campaign’s goal is relevant or if it’s a symptom of a fake campaign.
  2. Where the money goes: True creators care about the transparency of the redistribution of the funds they want to collect. Projects should know well why they are aiming for that concrete target amount and how they’re going to use the money. Also, they shouldn’t have a problem talking about this on the campaign site.
  3. Awareness: Does the project have profiles on social media? Are they active? Does the company communicate regularly with their community? Have any media wrote any articles about the project or interviews with the founders? All of these are great proofs of whether the project is serious about the campaign.
  4. Team: Check the campaign, website, and social media to see who works on the project and in which projects these people have participated in. Most fake campaigns are not transparent about the project team – it is logical, no one wants to associate their faces with lies.
  5. Reviews and references: Does the campaign offer any references and reviews? Is there any feedback from customers on the company website? If yes, good. If no, leave and never come back.

Do not rely solely on the crowdfunding portal, but also on your common sense and critical thinking. Ask questions and ask for clarification. If the creators really care about customers, they will be very happy to answer you as soon as possible.

And if you’re into good deeds, just report the shady campaign immediately. Thank you for living up to the true principle of crowdfunding – trust and support.