The Copy and Paste Crowdfunding Problem

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1988

You’ve got a great idea and decide to take it to the world of crowdfunding. You pour your heart and soul into the campaign and its humming along, nearing success. Suddenly you start receiving comments on your campaign. “Should I make my donation here or to your other campaign?”

Frantic, you look up your idea on another crowdfunding site and discover that your idea is raising money right now. The entire campaign was copied and pasted, including the embedded marketing video you spent thousands making. This imposter campaign has even raised more money than your own.

Think this is the stuff of fiction? Just ask Dawn Sole, the creator of the Pluck N’ File. It happened to her.

What Can Be Done About This Copy/Paste Dilemma?

Copying a crowdfunding campaign is a very easy scam to run. It looks legit and it’s nearly impossible to litigate against the scammer with success. It’s a money-wasting solution for victims, which means it is an easy target. That’s what Sole found out the hard way.

The best defense here is a good offense. Look for your business name or trademarks on other crowdfunding sites when you have a campaign that is active. If you find a copycat that is raising money, immediately challenge the intellectual property rights of the scammer. Until laws catch up to what people are doing, there isn’t a whole lot that can be done.

In Sole’s case, the fraudulent campaign was flagged so that no money changed hands. She raised $18,000 which she received from her own legit campaign, but can’t help but wonder if the scammer hadn’t copied her product if she would have been able to pay a 4% commission instead of a 9% commission on the money raised.

Should Kickstarter Be Doing the Due Diligence?

It’s an interesting question to consider. Who is responsible for stopping the scammer? Is it the crowdfunding site that accepts what looks like a legitimate campaign? Or is it up to the intellectual property owner to be proactive? The answer lies in a combination of both.

Certain projects, like comics, books, and artwork may not need extensive background checks. Branded products like Sole’s, however, could trigger the need for an expanded background check.

As equity crowdfunding is accepted and evolves, the need for authenticity in crowdfunding campaigns will become greater than ever. By answering the difficult questions now about due diligence, there will be fewer victims of the copy and paste scamming method.