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Life Hacks: 

How to spot a Kickstarter scam


Kobe Red Beef Jerky was suspended by Kickstarter last year after making fraudulent claims

From rocket skates and real-life hoverboards to a folding electric bicycle that you can fit in your backpack, Kickstarter is packed with projects tempting us to part with our cash. Some of them are very worthy, some are definitely not, and a small minority are outright fraudulent.

It’s important, then, to be extra careful before making any kind of investment. It’s Kickstarter’s policy not to get involved in disputes between investors and the projects it hosts, so before you allow a bright idea to sweep you off your feet, remember these five top tips for spotting Kickstarter scams.

1. Google the creator

Any good crowdfunding project should come with a short biography so that you not only know what you are investing in, but also who. A Kickstarter or Indiegogo page without a summary of its creator’s background is worth investigating, and even if the information is available you should Google them anyway to double-check. Think about it, let’s say you’re a master scam artist looking to trick people into a pledge – are you really going to advertise your identity? A quick search should throw up any concerns or shady business in their past that you should be aware of.

2. Be Skeptical

Skepticism doesn’t come easily to everyone, so if you’ve been called gullible in the past it’s worth remembering an old cliché – “if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.”

One such project was Luci, a lucid dreaming headset which managed to raise $363,302 despite its modest $40,000 target. It turned out the company had lied about having created a prototype and the campaign was eventually cancelled.

3. Make up your own mind

Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects like to make a song and dance out of early investment buzz, and this can be further exaggerated once the media begins to takes notice. Don’t be swayed by the hype – campaigns often give themselves a headstart by pledging money themselves, boosting their projects onto the homepages of their chosen crowdfunding site.

4. Is the budget right?

One of the biggest giveaways of a Kickstarter scam is the budget. If a campaign is trying to mass produce 10,000 units of its new smart gadget but has only asked for a small amount of funding, ask yourself why. Similarly, if a project is trying to raise $1,000,000 but hasn’t outlined where the money is going – back away from your computer slowly.

Take Arc Island, for instance, a project that wanted to create “an expandable moving island” on which to build “a brave new civilization.” It claimed to be the largest engineering project the world has ever undertaken, but asked for just $50,000 from investors – hmm. Incredibly it still managed to raise nearly $15,000, but watch the pitch below and decide for yourself.

5. Ask questions

Finally, if you’re unsure of anything, don’t be afraid to ask questions before you pledge. All crowdfunding campaigns have a comments page, so make sure you read it thoroughly to see how the creator has handled criticisms and concerns. If it’s starting to look shady at this stage, then it’s probably not worth taking your interest any further.

Read more about Kickstarter on GoExplore:

How to make your Kickstarter campaign a success

12 Worst Kickstarter Campaigns

Kickended – the blog where $0 Kickstarters go to die

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