Crowd Funding Fraud Leaderboard
It's a scientific fact that every human activity can be improved with some good 'ol gamification - including stealing money from idiots.
For this leaderboard we're looking at bad faith crowd funding campaigns - where the proposed product is technologically or physically impossible or where the creator of the campaign clearly had no intention of ever delivering.
Standard levels of business incompetence, delusional artistry, or combinations of the two don't qualify.
Protect your wires from damage
Ok this isn't fraud, the product exists and as far as I know it was delivered to backers. But it is literally just heat shrink tubing. Do people... not know this exists? Apparently all it takes to sell $0.03 of material for $3 is stupid web 2.0 name.
I hope this kid got an A+ in his marketing class for this.
iZeee Touch Charger
Charge your phone by touch - a bold claim indeed.
It's unclear what mechanism they claim to be harvesting energy from, but it doesn't really matter. Unless you can cook an egg on your open palm, you're not generating enough energy to charge a cell phone.
Portal by Arubixs
Flexible Wearable Smartphone
I'm sure this dude is going to cook up a flexible smartphone in his basement and beat out every global mega manufacturer for $50k. Oh wait he didn't quite make the 50k goal? Well good thing the funding was flexible too, so he still gets to keep the money.
World's smallest wearable air purifier
Magic metal box that purifies air using... ions! Ionic air filters exist, but I've got my doubts about one the size of a roll of quarters. The best part is the video where the scammers are dubbed over so you can't hear their hilarious eastern european cartoon criminal accents.
According to reddit
these are the same people behind "Airing" and "iBreathe"
COOL FAT BURNER
The world's ONLY PROVEN calorie burning cooling vest
Refridgerate yourself to burn calories. I actually proposed this as joke many years ago. I didn't realize I could have made a hundred grand selling icepack shirts.
The thing is, it doesn't take that many calories to heat up a cold pack. You're keeping 100+ pounds of water simering at body temperature all day, adding 1% to that mass isn't going to do much. One food calorie, or kilocalorie, is the amount of energy it takes to heat up a kilogram of water by one degree celsius. So if you drank a liter of 0°C degree water (brutally cold), you would expend 37 calories heating it up to body temperature.
Portable, Solar Fridge-Freezer!
A folding solar powered fridge. Because when I think "how do I keep something cool?" I immediately think "put it in direct sunlight".
As a bonus, the prototype is clearly made of painted plywood.
Charge your phone Twice as Fast
I'm hesitant to include every single alibaba asset flip on this list, but even at the time of this campaign, the exact same 2.4 amp charger with different branding was available on Amazon. They just rebranded it to sell it to suckers.
Motion activated battery bank
They actually made and delivered this thing but it's so fucking stupid that I'm including it.
Why would you carry around a motion activated battery charger that's twice as big as a battery pack. I mean unless you're planning on travelling back in time - then it's probably super useful.
Linus Tech Tips Review
Condense water out of desert air using the ground as a heatsink. Listen, the laws of thermodynamics can easily be rewritten if you just believe. And pay.
Note that the indiegogo url is "waterseer-water-women", adding a dash of feminist spice to the word salad.
Thunderfoot Debunk Part 2
The Self Filling Water Bottles
More moisture farming nonsense, this time powered by a solar panel the size of a postcard. They actually have a product version of this now and it basically looks like a dehumidifier strapped onto a water pitcher and you have to plug it into the wall to get anything out of it.
Extend Battery Life By Up to 8x
It's a boost converter. They're already in every piece of electronics that could benefit from them.
The Skarp Laser Razor
21st Century Shaving
The other day I was shaving and thought to myself, "you know what, this would be a lot better if it stank of burning hair and there was a non-trivial risk of blinding myself. Isn't there some way I can pay 100x as much to get that experience?" Well it turns out you can spend that much - and there's no risk of blindness because it's not real and it never will be.
Their campaign was over $4,000,000 on kickstarter before their account got suspended and they fell back to indiegogo - which apparently has no standards at all.
Like a tablet, but on your skin.
An implausibly small phone bracelet that projects light and dark
onto your wrist. I've linked to their 'concept video' (not originally labeled as such) because their website
forces https and has an expired security certificate.
There's nothing I could say about this that wasn't said in a much more entertaining fashion in the Captain Disillusion Debunk Video
The Dragonfly Futurefön
One Device to Unite Them All™
An oragami folding dual screen, dual os, laptop/phone with a slide out touchpad and bluetooth headset.
Why carry around 3 different gadgets when you can have all of them attached together by complex hinges and plugs. Also it's super light weight because it doesn't have any electronics or batteries inside it - you just add the display later in After Effects.
Ring by Logbar
This product was actually made and delivered to backers but it's so stupid that I have to include it.
Here's a video review that I think is summed up entirely in the title:
Worst Product Ever Made: Ring by Logbar
The Only Way to Automatically Measure Calorie Intake
It is not possible to tell what you're eating by looking at your skin.
If you invented a device that could measure blood sugar accurately through the skin you could make a billion dollars overnight by selling it as a diabetes testing device. You would not need to resort to crowd funding.
Juicing with zero cleaning and more juice
Squeeze pre-packaged juice packs to get... juice?
The first projection watch
Those "projections" look a lot like mspaint text on top of stock photos.
The ONLY Smartwatch With Voice & Gesture Control
Reasonable seeming consumer garbage, but the founder just took the money and bought a Ferrari
No product was ever delivered.
Neural Efficiency Optimizer - Neurophone
Ultrasonically beam knowledge into your brain while you sleep.
Or something. Crystals may be involved.
What's amazing about this is the purity of the woo. It's not overpromising techno-trash like most of the things on the leaderboard, it's absolute pixie dust.
The first hoseless, maskless, micro-CPAP
Inside that tiny nose plug is micro air blower with enough power to duplicate the effects of a traditional CPAP machine along with a battery with enough charge to power it all night.
No. No there isn't. At least, you better hope their isn't, otherwise you're sticking a plutonium powered 100,000 rpm turbine up your nose.
Solar panels that you can drive, park and walk on. They melt snow & cut greenhouse gases by 75% ?!!!
So you take your solar panels, you put them flat on the ground instead of angled towards the sun, then you cover them with inch think glass so less light gets to them, then you make the glass textured and wavy so even less
light gets through, then you drive trucks over them. Brilliant. Next let's make a cellphone that doubles as a cutting board, or maybe as a shoe.
But hey, at least you
didn't fall for it right? Wrong! The government fell for it for you. $2.2 mil doesn't begin to cover the damages. Your tax dollars are paying for this now. They have deployed a shoddily built walkway
in Missouri funded by state and federal money. Millions of your dollars have been wasted on this boondoggle.
EEVBlog Debunk 1 (Initial kickstarter)
EEVBlog Debunk 2 (Route 66 Plans)
EEVBlog Debunk 3 (Walkway)
made a dozen videos about this too. This shit never ends. You can't throw a rock without hitting (and then breaking) a solar roadway project or an engineer desperately trying to get the world to understand how solar panels work and why it's not a good idea to park a fucking car on them.
Everyone involved in this project should be in a cage.
At least one piece of valuable data was gleaned from this ordeal, and that is that Nathan Fillion is just as dumb as he looks.
(skip to ~1:15)
Your Personal Zone Creator with Noise Blocking Tech.
A noise cancelling device that attaches to a window pane. Noise cancelling exists, but not really for open areas. And there are reasons to not use a pane of glass as a speaker.
The cone of silence
mode, which claims to limit the distance your voice can travel, is not consistent with my understanding of the physical world.
This is a great scam because it automatically targets people who have too many credit cards.
A critical part of a crowd funding is making a clean getaway. Here's a few that didn't quite make it. At least I think they didn't - it might be possible to delete your campaign just to cover your tracks and still keep the money.
Charge your Phone with the Power of a Plant
Plug your cellular phone into a plant to charge it. Yes, really.
It turns out that despite appearances, indiegogo does actually have some standards and chloromancy is where they draw the line.
Portable Console for PC games
They have the same weird dubbing that the air purifier guys have, pretty big red flag right there - and that's before you get into the "we're going to make our own hardware at commodity prices even though we've never made anything before" territory.
Bomber Survival Bracelet
Finding a cheap chinese item on alibaba and reselling it on a crowd funding site is a tried and true formula - but apparently this one was just too egregious for kickstarter and they canceled the campaign.
They ended up moving to indiegogo and got $140k.
The World's First Battery-Free Item Locating Tag
A long range blue tooth location tag that's powered entirely by harvesting stray radio waves. At some point in the campaign, at least one person at kickstarter learned about the inverse square law and shut it down.
World's First Artificial Gills Re-breather
At first this device was going to let you breath underwater by filtering oxygen from the water and pressurizing it directly into your mouth with a micro compressor and a supernaturally power-dense battery. When it was shown that most of those steps were impossible, including there just not being enough oxygen in the water to support a human, they cancelled the campaign and restarted it - this time claiming to use "liquid oxygen" cylinders.
Everyone who bought into the original campaign apparently got a refund.
Ultrasonic wireless charging
This isn't a crowd funding scam - it's good old fashion venture capital milking - but it shares so many characteristics that I had to include it. We've got:
- Cell phone charging
- Dangerous power densities
- Unrealistic miniturization requirements
- Stupid lower-case-first-character brand name
Is it really that hard to just plug in your cell phone? Or maybe just get a battery case for it?
Or maybe use it a little less?
Here's an idea, remember how cordless phones had little charging contacts at the bottom so you could just put them on the stand to charge? What if we did that instead of beaming kilowatts of power into the air - you just put your phone on a little stand. Would that be so bad?
So what have we learned? Well, the most important skill you can have here is cooking up fake images. Fire up those stock image accounts, photoshop, mspaint, blender, whatever - just make some pretty pictures. If you really want to go for the gold, make a paper mache model and composite a screen image onto it. You don't even have to do a good job - after all, the people whose wallets you're targeting don't know anything about technology. They live in a world of magic, and you're there to sell it to them.
Solar. Fuckin. Power. People love it. If you can some how cram a solar panel onto your fictional device, you've doubled the value. It doesn't even have to be real
. Maybe put one on the bottom - or on the inside where it won't get in the way. We all want to do our part to save the environment...
... Unless it involves not
using your cell phone. The modern human can't put their cell phone down for even a second and they're willing to waste huge amounts of energy saturating the entire airspace of their home with radio waves, ultra sound, magnetic fields, or whatever it takes to keep that phone running without ever having to plug it in.
Lastly, don't work too hard coming up with a new scam because the old scams just keep working over and over again. PT Barnum said there's a sucker born every minute, but the modern birth rate of 131.4 million per year works out to 250