Kobe Beef Jerky Kickstarter Was Nearly A $120K Fraud

Kobe Red had all the markings of a successful Kickstarter when it first started gathering contributions to develop Kobe beef jerky from the meat of Japanese cattle raised on beer and massages, but Kickstarter yanked the project from the site just minutes before it would have turned out to be the biggest confirmed case of fraud in the crowd-sourcing site's history.

Kickstarter does not offer refunds on funded projects, and any would-be backers are told to critically evaluate any project's claims themselves. Caveat emptor, as it were. But anybody suspecting that a project is a scam or fraud can file a report, and Kickstarter might shut down the crowd-sourcing campaign. As long as that happens before the backers' credit cards are run, nobody will lose any money.

According to Thrillist, which was an early proponent of the project, Kobe One claimed the Kobe beef for its jerky would be imported from Japan, and even said that some of the ranchers breeding the cattle were relatives of the founder, who was alleged to be a Californian who spent lots of time on his uncle's ranch in Kobe. The product was supposed to come in flavors like brown sugar-lemon grass, sweet and spicy ginger teriyaki, and smoked honey spiced curry.

But none of the jerky was real, and the enthusiastic taste tests it held up as proof were faked. A set of filmmakers making a documentary about Kickstarter uncovered the fraud while they were working on their movie and discovered that the company's back story was fraudulent and a lot of the project's most enthusiastic boosters were fake accounts.

3,252 people had pledged money to the Kobe Red project, for a total of $120,000.