Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter are a great way for people with great ideas to get money while circumventing the traditional hurdles of appealing to venture capitalists. Turns out they are also a great way for people with stolen money to get around the law.
On Nov. 5, the founder of the crowdfunding platform Gittip announced that the service had been hijacked as a vehicle for money laundering by a mysterious, anonymous user who had registered on his site about five weeks earlier.
Gittip, short for “gift tip,” let’s users issue small cash tips of between $1 and $24 each week to other users whose causes or work they “believe in.” Founder Chad Whitacre calls the service “Kickstarter for people,” as opposed to projects. The idea is modeled in part on the MacArthur Foundation’s Genius Grant, which gives truckloads of money to “exceptional” people simply as a thumbs-up for being so awesome.
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