Kickstarter scammer dupes artist by withdrawing pledged amount

It was only a matter of time before someone started to take advantage of Kickstarter projects. Reports have emerged of a Kickstarter-fraud...

It was only a matter of time before someone started to take advantage of Kickstarter projects. Reports have emerged of a Kickstarter-fraud who has made false pledges to over 100 campaigns, only to trick the creators.

At the centre of this news of fraud is the feature on Kickstarter that allows chargeback. Using the feature, one can file for a chargeback in a limited span of time, during which, the money in the process of being transferred can be pulled back by the sender. One user by the name of Encik Farhan seems to be in the midst of the controversy here.

The issue here is that Farhan has allegedly been pledging a good amount of money to campaigns, and filing for chargebacks as soon as rewards are being shipped out. Essentially, he gets his money back along with the rewards he pledged the amount for in the first place. Kickstarter has reportedly deleted Farhan’s profile, so it could be a sign of things to come for the crowdfunding website.

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The scam came to light when an artist by the name of Alex Heberling took to Twitter late last week to announce the scam in a series of tweets. Heberling charted out how Farhan first pledged $1,000 to her campaign, pulling out of it after she said that she’d started shipping rewards. Herberling went on to find out that the person behind the profile has pulled this stunt with dozens of other creators and was even in touch with another creator who had been duped similarly. She announced that an appeal had been filed against the profile but if the credit card company sided with Farhan, it could jeopardise her project.

Herberling’s predicament sheds light on issues that are often neglected on crowdfunding websites. While there are stringent rules in place to note and control fraudulent projects, scamming pledgers are slipping under the radar at the expense of project creators. The fact that more than one project had been affected by the same scammer shows that Kickstarter will need to pull up its socks to catching fraudsters on the other side of the fence as well.

Another important point that Herberling raised in her tweets was the lack of a report button, which puts Kickstarter’s attention onto scamming profiles. Not too long ago Twitter too came under fire for the inability to report single tweets as abuse too. While Kickstarter has now deleted Farhan’s profile, telling The Verge in a statement that while it has seen chargebacks happen, it has never happened on such a wide scale. The issue may not be a large one right now but Kickstarter seems to be lucky to have spotted it early on. This may well help it to craft more stringent rules while crowdfunding gathers steam.

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