I need to tip my hat to far too many folks to even mention. Thanks to all that brought this article to my attention.
Washington’s attorney general, calling it “the first consumer-protection lawsuit in the nation involving crowdfunding,” sued a Tennessee firm that got $25,000 from backers but delivered nothing,
Washington’s attorney general is taking consumer protection to the next frontier: crowdfunding.
The state’s top lawyer, Bob Ferguson, said Thursday his office has filed the first consumer-protection complaint in the U.S. to target a Kickstarter fraud.
The lawsuit alleges Edward Polchlopek III and his company, Nashville, Tenn-based Altius Management, in 2012 raised more than $25,000 from 810 people in order to print a deck of “retro-horror”-themed cards designed by a Serbian artist.
Among those backers were 31 living in Washington state, according to the suit, which was filed in King County Superior Court.
Altius’ fundraising campaign promised backers that in exchange they would receive playing cards and other freebies, such as poker chips, dice and “even a costume straitjacket,” the complaint alleges.
But two years later, the attorney general said, not a single backer has received what was promised, and no money was returned. The suit seeks restitution of the cash, as well as fines up to $2,000 per backer for violations of the Consumer Protection Act, meaning the total could top $1.6 million.You can read the rest of the article at the Seattle Times.
What does this mean to the Toms, Mikes, Joshuas, Gareths and the rest that take in funds and deliver squat years later? Depends on whether or not backers in Washington state bring their complaints to the state's AG. Even if it goes nowhere, the legal costs to defend against such a lawsuit is beyond the scope of 99.9% of Kickstarter creators out there.
I firmly believe that few project creators go into it planning to fuck their backers over, but I also believe more than a few go into it thinking "if i all goes pear-shaped, I'm really not on the hook for anything and it's not my money being risked".
A lawsuit like this means it IS their money being put as risk. Maybe it will keep those that expect Kickstarter to be their cash making machine with no risk to think twice.