Before we get into crowdfunding scams, let’s first take a look at these common occurrences.

OK, there it is. You’re going through those lovely morning emails and you get that one from a fellow in Nigeria who claims you just hit it big on their lottery. 

Delete.

You answer a phone call, thinking it’s that job interview you scheduled or the doctor’s office, only to find somebody telling you “The IRS has determined you didn’t pay taxes.”

Hang up. 

These are easy to detect. But with crowdfunding, not so much. Here’s how you can stay safe when it comes to crowdfunding scams. 

Be Wary of Everything

Crowdfunding scams happen to the best of us. After all, decent folks can be pretty giving people. There was one woman in the state of Iowa, Leatha Slauson, who claimed her five-year-old was suffering from cancer when, thankfully, the child was perfectly healthy. The GoFundMe featured a young girl with a shaved head, clutching a toy and our heartstrings.

The truth came out when her school wanted to learn the best way to care for her while she was completing her studies. Needless to say, what a scandal. 

And if you remember that crazy Super Bowl halftime show from 2015 with those funny dancing sharks that were onstage with Katy Perry, there was a fellow named David Lam who wanted to recreate the cartoonish shark suits to sell them. And then donate the proceeds to an organisation devoted to saving the environment. 

Sounded great, but David could not meet the needs of the campaign as it grew too large. Donors believe he took their money and ran. Money had to be refunded as best it could, but Indiegogo took their cut. Even though David did not intend to scam people, he was not well prepared for the ramifications of a successful campaign, which led to his downfall. 

Avoiding the Crowdfunding Scams

Crowdfunding scams can be avoided. No matter how much you love a campaign, unless you know the person behind it personally, it is always best to do your research and see what’s really going on. After all, we read reviews for even the most mundane stuff we buy like household cleaners all the way to new brands of dog treats. Why not do the same for crowdfunding campaigns? 

  1. Check out the campaign’s creator. One way to avoid getting bit in a crowdfunding scam is to check and see where their name appears. Are they in other crowdfunding campaigns or scams? Do they claim to be doing something that just seems way too huge to do on one’s own (such as creating artificial gills for underwater swimming?) Does their education and experience not match up with their project’s background? If there is any part of the campaign that makes you feel uneasy or a little suspicious, find other ways to spend your money. 

  2. Is this project realistic? -A single individual cannot do what an army has trouble doing. For instance, a certain extremist group that starts with an “I” has had several campaigns brought against them, single individuals claiming they will fight the good fight against these people. This is not realistic and unsafe at best. It is an obvious scam. You can review this article from the Toronto Sun for an example if you would like. 

  3. Don’t think with your heart, but with your wallet. It sounds cold but keep your hands tight on your money. It is tempting to give your money to a sick child. Or struggling young adult, but you still must do your research. Do your best to verify the reality of the situation. It is disturbing, but some people have no trouble faking life-threatening disease to drum up money. 

More often than not, campaigns are honest. Many sites have vetting processes that have to take place before a campaign can start. That being said, there will always be those that slip through the cracks and make for crowdfunding scams. Keep your wits about you as you donate. 

What Else to Look For? 

In your avoidance of crowdfunding scams, you should take a look at these telltale signs that the campaign is a fake. Consider these items:

Check their social media –If there are just “filler friends” with typical American names (or whatever your nationality is) on their social media, and the “friends” have stock photos or Instagram model photos, then this is not a good sign. 

Check for stock images. Do a Google reverse image search if you suspect stock photos. If there are also a serious lack of details, chances are this one’s not real. 

Go on Reddit. Reddit has Subreddits devoted to crowdfunding campaigns that just are terrible in general. They’re good for a laugh and to see if your campaign is a fraud. (You can make a Reddit account, post the campaign and see what others think, too). 

How CrowdfundingBum Fights Fraud

Here at CrowdfundingBum, we know that your safety matters. And, we do everything to make sure that crowdfunding scams are not part of your crowdfunding experience. 

The way we fight fraud on our platform is by requiring campaigners to pay it forward by donating part of their funds to another community member’s campaign. This small donation is not only a great gesture of goodwill. But we believe that no self-respecting scammer would willingly donate to a campaign. After all, scammers take, they do not give. 

On top of all this, we have implemented a “backers reward receipt” policy.  

This means that 70% of donations are held until you have all the rewards shipped. And the backers have got their perks. Backers can rest easy knowing that they will get the reward as promised. Or at the very least a 70% refund of their donation (minus platform fee and gateway processing fee) as stated in our terms of use agreement. 

Our Bottom Line

Stay smart and safe when you crowdfund. Be sure that you do all research before donating. Do not donate with your heart until AFTER you figure out if the campaign is real or not. And remember the golden rule of spending money: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Final thoughts.

We hope you stick around a while to find out more about all that Crowdfunding Bum has to offer. You will find ample reasons to choose us as your funding source.

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