FTC Settles Deceptive Marketing Complaint against Board Game Maker
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has settled its first case involving a crowdfunding campaign in which the maker of a board game used all the funds he raised on unrelated personal expenses.
Erik Chevalier agreed to a settlement that prohibits him from deceptive representations related to any future crowdfunding campaigns and requires him to honor any stated refund policy. A financial judgement against him has been suspended due to his inability to pay.
Crowdfunding involves individuals and businesses funding a project or venture by raising funds from numerous people, often via dedicated online platforms, like Kickstarter or GoFundMe. According to the FTC's complaint, Chevalier, also doing business as The Forking Path Co., sought money from consumers to produce a board game called The Doom That Came to Atlantic City that had been created by two prominent board game artists.
According to the FTC's complaint, Chevalier represented in his Doom campaign on Kickstarter.com that if he raised $35,000, backers would get certain rewards, such as a copy of the game or specially designed pewter game figurines. He raised more than $122,000 from 1,246 backers, most of whom pledged $75 or more in the hopes of getting the highly prized figurines. He represented in a number of updates that he was making progress on the game. But after 14 months, Chevalier announced that he was cancelling the project and refunding his backers' money.
Despite Chevalier's promises he did not provide the rewards, nor did he provide refunds to his backers. In fact, according to the FTC's complaint, Chevalier spent most of the money on unrelated personal expenses such as rent, moving himself to Oregon, personal equipment, and licenses for a different project.
A financial judgement of about $111,800 will become due immediately if Chevalier is found to have misrepresented his financial condition.