Kickstarter removes fake “Cyberfrog” fundraising page
Ethan Van Sciver’s Cyberfrog: Blood Honey crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo is already a remarkable success. Having raised over $150 thousand in less than one week, Cyberfrog is on track to being one of the most successful comic book crowdfunding campaigns to date.
Perhaps it is that very success which inspired someone to post a fraudulent copy of the Cyberfrog Indiegogo page, letter-for-letter, to rival crowdfunding site, Kickstarter.
The fake campaign was discovered and brought to Ethan Van Sciver’s attention over the weekend. He posted a video response on his YouTube channel, “Comic Artist Pro Secrets,” in which he indicated that he contacted Kickstarter and asked that the fake Cyberfrog page be taken down. Kickstarter initially responded by closing the campaign, but instead of removing the page altogether, it was marked only as “canceled” and was still searchable for several days. This action left room for confusion in that some potential backers seeking out the legitimate Cyberfrog campaign might have discovered the Kickstarter page by mistake and be led to believe that the project was simply “canceled” by Van Sciver.
It is Kickstarter’s policy to not remove failed or canceled campaigns for the purposes of transparency, but it appears as though they eventually agreed that fraud was a special case and they removed the fake page altogether later in the week.
Unlike Indiegogo, Kickstarter has a very thorough, some may consider cumbersome, submission process which includes registering a valid social security number (or the LLC equivalent) and typically involves waiting a few days for approval. That being the case, it’s even more curious as to how the faked Cyberfrog page was ever approved by Kickstarter in the first place, particularly considering that it wasn’t posted under Van Sciver’s name and the campaign language, both in written and video form, included Indiegogo’s site name throughout.
While it may have taken longer to fully remove than it really should have, at least Kickstarter took the appropriate action and the damage to Van Sciver’s legitimate campaign was probably minimal. Fortunately, only four people were duped by the fake Cyberfrog page for total of $47 before it was shut down.
It’s still unclear if the fake Kickstarter page was posted as an attempt to make a few bucks off of non-discerning backers, but Van Sciver’s personal belief is that it was posted by someone with a personal grudge against him, as the success of his campaign has drawn the attention of several of his outspoken detractors. If the latter, this situation highlights what may become a recurring problem: weaponizing fraud via crowdfunding sites. Hopefully Kickstarter takes a few lessons learned from this experience, as something similar is unfortunately bound to happen again.
Damn we live in a wacky world, these days.
You can support the REAL Cyberfrog: Blood Honey Indiegogo campaign here.
Source: Bounding Into Comics