Imagine you’re walking down the street of a large city and someone comes up and offers to sell you a Rolex for $100. Great deal, right? I mean – a Rolex! OK, this guy has kind of a shaky story about how his uncle really just needs some money for medicine and has to sell it, but that little devil on your shoulder tells you “Heh, it’s probably stolen, but who’s gonna know?”
No – it’s not stolen. It’s plastic, and that guy has a gym bag full of them stashed around the corner. You got scammed, high-roller.
But now imagine that you’re on a website where struggling creative types go to ask the community to help get their projects off the ground. Here’s a guy who says he’s been working as a watchmaker in Switzerland for years and wants to branch out on his own. He makes hand-made, high-end watches and for a pledge of $100, he’ll send you one. $300 gets you three.
Well some 71 people (and counting, as of this writing) thought that sounded like a great opportunity. Help a guy out, get a cool looking watch. Sure, the guy in the video sounds Chinese, not Swiss, but that might not mean anything. He doesn’t sound like the grandfather-type guy in the bio picture, but maybe it’s his nephew or something. And sure, he says the project is low-risk because he’s already got 300 of them ready to ship. That doesn’t mean someone is flipping cheap Chinese watches and pretending to be a skilled craftsman looking for startup funds, does it?
Yeah, it does.
Some sharp-eyed Kickstarter backers noticed that the watches “JMK ESS” was claiming to make and provide for $100 pledges cost about $30 each in wholesale lots direct from China.
The project has been reported to Kickstarter and will probably be shut down. Certainly Kickstarter doesn’t want to become the next Etsy, riddled with resellers. It does raise the question of how this project got past Kickstarter’s approval process, though. Here’s a pro-tip, guys: If a project has a bunch of what look like stock photos from an online catalog, drag one into Google Image Search and see what pops up.