SEATTLE (Legal Newsline) - Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit on Thursday against a company and its owner after they allegedly failed to deliver products to consumers after running a crowdfunding campaign.
Crowdfunding campaigns seek financing from a large pool of backers who provide small amounts of financial support in return for an agreed upon product that the project is legally required to deliver. Edward Polchlepek, also known as Ed Nash, and Altius Management, Polchlepek's company, allegedly took consumer money and failed to deliver products for the Asylum Playing Cards crowdfunding campaign through a crowdfunding service called Kickstarter.
"Consumers need to be aware that crowdfunding is not without risk," Ferguson said. "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."
Consumers pledged funds to Polchlepek and Altius in 2012 in exchange for decks of playing cards featuring a retro-horror theme and other similar items. The Asylum Playing Cards campaign raised $25,146 from 810 backers, including at least 31 from Washington state. After promising the playing cards and other rewards with an estimated delivery date of December 2012, the company allegedly failed to deliver the promised items or refunds. Altius allegedly cut off communication with backers as of July.
The lawsuit, which is the first consumer protection lawsuit in the nation involving crowdfunding, seeks restitution for consumers, as much as $2,000 in civil penalties for each violation of the Consumer Protection Act and attorney fees.