Thinking about Donating to a Crowdfunding Project? Make Sure It Isn't a Scam First
Use these tips to make sure the project is real so you don't lose your money
Crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe, Kickstarter, and Indiegogo have become popular with people trying to raise money for purposes from treating a serious illness to going on a honeymoon. Unfortunately, scammers have figured out how to take advantage of people's willingness to give to a good cause, fleecing many out of thousands of dollars.
Fortunately, there are red flags that consumers can use to identify which campaigns are real and which are frauds. Follow these tips to help make sure you don't get taken advantage of because of your generosity.
- Research the creator
- Reverse image search the main crowdfunding photo
- Look at how much information is given on the campaign page
- Check other crowdfunding sites for the same project
- Contact the creator directly
Although many crowdfunding sites verify that a campaign creator has a Facebook page, the reality is that anyone can make a Facebook page. Take a closer look it.
Are the friends real? When were the most recent comments made? Is the person listed only on Facebook or do they have other social media accounts? How long has the page existed? A short timeline may be a sign that the page was only made just before the person asked for funding.
Check into their business background too. Has the creator been successful with other campaigns? Does he or she have a professional profile on a site like LinkedIn? If so, does the profile show experience and/or expertise in crowdfunding or fundraising?
If the picture pops up elsewhere on the Internet, it's likely that the creator stole it to use for a fake campaign. Beware!
Does the project give many details or only the barest information necessary? If the campaign is supposed to pay for medical treatment, does it list a specific illness? Treatment facility? If the page is vague on the problem the money is meant to solve, it may be a scam.
When someone lists the same project on more than one crowdfunding site, it should raise a red flag. This may be an attempt to milk as much money from as many people as possible.
Reach out to the creator directly and ask questions before you donate. Scammers will do one of two things in response: either they will not respond or they will send even more false information that you can identify easily.
It's not a bad thing to be generous, and there are many legitimate campaigns on crowdfunding sites. Just be smart about it so you won't get taken advantage of for having a big heart.