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Victim Happy That Washington State Filed Crowdfunding Lawsuit

This screen grab from the Asylum Playing Cards' Kickstarter page shows the cards' designs.

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.

A promotional 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. I was mostly backing it for the artist,” Lansford said.

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. What I try to do and what our team tries to do is simply protect consumers here in my state of Washington state,” Ferguson said.

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." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.