“Kicktrolling” is a new word and one you may, sadly, be hearing a lot more about. The Beat broke the story last month about Kickstarter scammer “Encik Farhan”, who was funding over 100 projects at the highest level only to then dispute the charges and still get the goods.
We’ve been hearing that this kind of scammery is now getting more and more common among webcomics Kickstarters, and Thom Pratt has another example of what he has dubbed “kicktrolling”. His Kickstarter is for Crimson Rhen of the Truth North, a charming looking Steampunk comics adventure looking for a fairly modest $25,000. Pratt explains what happened next:
We had a backer using the (presumably) fake name of “Lee McAllister” back us for around $500. That’s not a red flag per se, as we had a few other backers pledge at that level, too.
But over the holiday weekend, he suddenly raised his bid to $1,000. “Well, okay,” we thought, “maybe he reeeeaallly wanted to see the project get funded.”
And then we woke up to suddenly find ourselves at 65% of goal, up from around 25%. Why?
Well, “Lee” suddenly increased his pledge to $10,000. And bragged about it in the comments.
TEN GRAND. The price of a used car. Nearly half or our funding goal.
Obviously, the spider sense was tingling. So I wrote him to ask him if he had added a zero too many to his amount, to which he said “No, I think that’s right.”
And then he immediately proceeded to cut his funding by $5,000.
And there we sat, about 50% funded over the Thanksgiving holiday. Not feeling particularly thankful, but nervous.
What if this guy “helped” us get funded by the skin of our teeth only to skip out on the bill? We’d still be short a few grand, have to deliver the project to the paying backers and be liable for Kickstarter and Amazon fees.
Or what if we were, say, 105% funded, and he pulled his $5K out a minute or two before the campaign closed? Talk about a roller coaster ride of emotion!
Pratt says that the roller coaster of funding has left the entire future of his campaign in doubt, as it looks bad when a campaign goes up and down.
It isn’t clear why “Lee McAllister” is funding this project in this way, but Pratt’s fear of going just over the success line only to be defunded and still be liable for fees and fulfillment seems likely.
As Kickstarter gets more and more common, these kinds of bad faith problems are going to need concrete policies to address them. The more money is changing hands, the more people are going to be standing by with a tap hoping to skim a little off the top.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.