Kobe Beef Jerky Fraud: Scam Kickstarter Campaign Almost Crowdsourced $120,000

Where's the beef? Not on Kickstarter.

The crowdfunding site can be a magnet for a worthy charity, or propel a genuinely good idea. But some Kickstarter projects are just crap, and sometimes they are reprehensible crap that gets funded anyway.

In the case of Kobe Red, a project that promised to make flavored beef jerky out of organic -- not to mention beer-fed and massaged -- Japanese beef, the proposition turned out to be simply too good to be true.

Kickstarter narrowly avoided a $120,000 fraud when it pulled the funding of Kobe One on June 13. According to Quartz, if it had cleared, the scam project would have been the "biggest definitive fraud in the crowdfunding site’s history."

Filmmakers producing a documentary about Kickstarter claim to have caught the fraud in a video (above) released yesterday.

Quartz reporter Christopher Mims observed that the same "laissez-faire attitude" that's helped Kickstarter become so popular -- and allowed the site's community of givers to root out projects that don't pass the smell test -- might now be making it especially vulnerable to frauds.

Kickstarter doesn't offer refunds on funded projects. Thankfully, Kobe One was pulled before its deadline expired, and its 3,252 backers will be shorted only a bit of pride for their folly.

Although the site's FAQ section on "accountability" holds that "the fact that Kickstarter allows creators to take risks and attempt to create something new is a feature, not a bug," this near-miss might indicate that it's time to curb some of that risk.

It's probably worth noting that other retailers offer jerky made from Kobe beef.

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