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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington State Files Lawsuit Over Alleged Crowdfunding Scam

One of the victims of an alleged crowdfunding scam says he’s not counting on getting his money back, but he’s glad Washington’s attorney general has filed a consumer protection lawsuit.

It’s believed to be the first state action against a crowdfunding project sponsor.

Brad Lansford only lost $9. But he still feels burned. In 2012, he backed a Kickstarter project called Asylum Playing Cards. The project's video shows a unique deck of playing cards from “the dark and twisted mind of an underground Serbian artist.”

Lansford liked the art and became a backer.

“I’m of the mindset to kind of help others who want to take a chance," he says. "I was mostly backing it for the artist.”

In return for his $9, Lansford was promised one Asylum deck of cards with free shipping. But the cards never arrived. Now, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed a lawsuit to get restitution and penalties on behalf of about 30 Washington consumers who contributed to this project.

Ferguson says he wants to send a message that Washington state won’t tolerate crowdfunding theft.

“We’re not trying to break into some new frontier," says Ferguson. "What I try to do and what our team tries to do is simply protect consumers here in my state.”

The lawsuit names a Nashville-based entertainment manager who led the Kickstarter campaign on behalf of the Serbian artist. The crowdfunding portal itself is not named in the lawsuit.

On its website, Kickstarter cautions it can’t guarantee projects and that consumers need to do their own vetting.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."