The first state lawsuit over a crowdfunding project is about a deck of cards


The Maryland Live Casino in Hanover, MD. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

A deck of cards that failed to materialize led to what Washington’s attorney general says is the first state lawsuit over a crowd-funded project.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced on Thursday that his office was suing Edward J. Polchlepek III, also known as Ed Nash, over an alleged failure to deliver a promised horror-themed decks of cards—and other similar items—to hundreds of individuals who funded his project through Kickstarter. The Web site serves as a venue to raise funds for projects by collecting small donations from large groups of supportive people.

“Consumers need to be aware that crowdfunding is not without risk,” Ferguson said in a statement. “This lawsuit sends a clear message to people seeking the public’s money:  Washington state will not tolerate crowdfunding theft. The Attorney General’s Office will hold those accountable who don’t play by the rules.”

Polchlepek raised $25,146 from 810 backers in his 2012 campaign to collect funding to produce Asylum, a “retro-horror themed playing card deck.” More than 500 people donated at least $9, more than 120 contributed at least $25, and more than 150 others gave greater amounts.

About 31 of the backers are from Washington, according to the lawsuit. Penalties could be as high as $2,000 per violation.

Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.
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Niraj Chokshi · May 2, 2014