IndieGoGo is primarily focused on electronic products and smart hardware, which makes it a popular place for electric scooter campaigns. They all promise great specs at a low price, especially if you’re an early-bird backer. Unfortunately, if there’s something that promises to be the best electric scooter in Australia for less than $500, it’s definitely too good to be true.
IndieGoGo is not inherently bad. As a matter of fact, it is more creator-friendly and flexible than Kickstarter. On the other hand, this also makes it more attractive and efficient for scammers.
How do IndieGoGo Scams Fool People?
At IndieGogo, you can launch as many projects as you want regardless of where you’re located. They don’t ask for a prototype of the product nor vet the campaigns like Kickstarter, which has been known to occasionally suspend projects after they’ve been launched.
The platform has a flex funding program, which enables creators to get everything they raise even if they don’t meet their goal, minus IndieGoGo’s commission. It also has the InDemand program, which lets them accept contributions after the campaign has ended. To stay in good standing, creators need to keep their backers updated and provide perks.
Dishonest creators can easily use these rules to their advantage. Case in point: the EON Electric Scooter. It promised what could be the best electric scooter in Australia – top speed of 45 mph, range of 50 miles, and hill climb ability of 45%, all for $399. The campaign was created by David Greenberg from San Francisco.
Just by looking at the IndieGoGo account, everything looked legit. It had a website and social media accounts. Greenberg constantly provided updates, which included a video ad, pictures of prototype fabrication progress and snapshots from demo day.
But all of these were just hot air – among other various claims he has made with no proof – for a production that was always two or three months away. He didn’t meet any of his deadlines and stalled delivery for 3 years (and counting). The campaign is now closed. He still has a private Facebook group. To make it worse, IndieGoGo has a long history of not protecting backers from fraud.
How do I protect myself from electric scooter scams?
First of all, keep in mind that you are not buying a product. You are donating money. IndieGoGo, Kickstarter and GoFundMe are not stores.
This means no consumer laws apply. Theoretically, EON victims can apply for a class-action lawsuit or file a complaint with the FTC. But this would cost money and they need to have enough backers to participate.
Second, a real verifiable company can still rip-off backers. A product can be sold in the market without any of the backers receiving theirs. Mercane Widewheel used their campaign funds to build a retail business, but never fulfilled their obligations to their backers.
If you are still considering backing crowdfunding campaigns for electric scooters, here’s what you need to do:
Check if the product is too good to be true.
Is the price suspiciously low? Does the financial goal make economical sense? Every electric scooter brand will tell you that they sell the best electric scooter in Australia. The businesses behind campaigns still need to manage production costs and make a profit.
Verify the people behind the campaign.
How much do you really know about the creator behind the campaign? If you don’t know anything about the owner of the campaign except their name, and you can’t verify if they have a business background that can make it successful, it’s a big red flag.
Verify the business behind the campaign.
Is it a real established business or something that was set-up for appearances? Do they have a real phone number? This may need a lot of digging because it’s not easy to verify a business established overseas. Keep in mind that anyone can set-up a website and business pages anywhere in social media without getting screened.
Check for a proven track record of success.
Is the business a real company that has sold products before? Creators can get attention from the press for getting a huge amount of money for their campaigns. They can easily milk this for marketing and then stall indefinitely.
Check for missed deadlines.
A majority of sellers who go to crowdfunding platforms are start-ups, so most of the time this is their first foray into business. Go through the updates page and comments (creators can delete negative comments). It’s normal for shipping dates to get delayed and moved. But if it’s clear that several deadlines have been missed and promises were never kept, it’s a scam.
Check if there is a solid proof of progress.
Set aside the slick video ads, gifs, and marketing images. Is there clear proof of a prototype, not just renderings or 3D drawings? Does the picture clearly show electric scooters and not just a collage of electric scooter parts and a warehouse space?
Check if the campaign owner provides direct answers.
If the campaign owner has canned responses for delayed shipments this is a red flag. If it’s clear that they’re stalling production with creative excuses (missing parts, redesign etc) that’s also a red flag. If the creator has made several claims when asked for proof but never gave any concrete evidence, its a scam.
As you can see, there is a huge risk in backing crowdfunding campaigns. Anyone that overpromises you with the best electric scooter in Australia is sketchy. In fact, you should always be sceptical. To make sure that you’re going to get an actual product, it’s safer to buy from a local bike shop or electric scooter company with its own store.