A 20-year-old San Diego man is accused of cheating people out of more than $54,000 on Kickstarter, a crowd-funding website.
The “Learn iPhone App Development” Kickstarter campaign promises backers access to an online tutorial to learn app development, but hundreds of people say the organizer of the project never delivered.
Like John Young, who says his 14-year-old son wanted to learn to build iPhone apps, so he funded Taylor Beck’s Kickstarter program in the amount of $99.
“He kept delaying the release of the programming course, and finally at the end of August, he just stopped talking to anybody,” Young said.
This project was meant to be a comprehensive online tutorial for building iPhone applications.
The "pitch" video on the "Learn iPhone App Development" tells viewers the tutorial can change their lives.
“If you’ve ever had any ideas for apps where you just weren’t sure how to start creating them, then this is the course for you,” Beck tells potential customers on Kickstarter. “It’s really changed my life so far, and I really believe it can change yours too.”
Beck could not be reached for comment.
Young says the original funding goal for the project was $2,000, but people gave Beck $54,000 online.
“He's only 19 or 20 years old, so it's a shame for someone with his talent to start of his life this way, basically deceiving people and taking their money,” Young said. “It doesn't speak well for his future.”
SDSU Business Law Professor Seth Kaplowitz said Beck could be facing criminal and civil action.
“I think it's sad first of all. This young man has gotten himself into a little bit of trouble. He has both civil and criminal charges that could be filed against him, depending on what the individuals involved feel like doing,” Kaplowitz said.
The way Kickstarter works is: a person puts up a project they want to work on, and so-called "backers" contribute money so the person can complete the project.
The company says they have a remarkable track record, but nothing’s guaranteed, and folks should keep that in mind when they back a project.
NBC 7 Investigates reached out to Beck through his parents, through the internet and social media but could not reach him. A search for any possible court records or police reports related to this Kickstarter campaign were not found and the San Diego Police Department was unable to find any reports related to Kickstarter or Taylor Beck.
According to statements made on Beck’s Kickstarter page, he was supposed to release the tutorials on August 30.
Kaplowitz said the amount of trouble Beck may be in depends on his intent.
“The big thing here is what his intent was. Was his intent to create this Kickstarter campaign with the thought of never producing anything and absconding with the funds? Or, did he have really good intentions and somewhere along the line, he got derailed?” Kaplowitz said.