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AG Yost Announces Settlement with Creator of Crowd-funding Campaign Who Didn’t Fulfill Promises


(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has reached a settlement with the organizer of a Kickstarter campaign who collected $31,753 from 101 supporters but didn’t deliver the goods he promised in return for pledges. He also failed to turn over donations to the charities identified as the campaign beneficiaries until he received pressure from the Attorney General’s Office and local police.

Under the settlement, former Westerville resident Samuel Darling — who created the crowd-funding initiative “Turtle Conservation Diver” using the business name of Flamingo Collective — has agreed to provide restitution to supporters, to pay civil penalties and to not engage in additional crowd-funding campaigns in Ohio for at least five years.  

“When it comes to allocating funds for a charitable cause and it doesn't materialize, it truly gets my blood boiling,” Yost said. “Consumers should have confidence that their investments in crowd-funding campaigns are protected by the law."

The Kickstarter website allows individuals to create campaign pages to solicit monetary pledges from supporters. Once a campaign reaches its goal, the pledges are paid and the project creator is contractually obligated to deliver on the promises outlined in the campaign, including any specified rewards for contributions.

Darling committed to supplying wristwatches to donors, using the slogan “Buy a watch, save a turtle” and to giving a portion of the proceeds to turtle-conservation charities.

After collecting pledges in July and August of 2020, easily surpassing his fundraising goal of $18,000, Darling wrote on the campaign page that there were production challenges with the watches but assured supporters that the watches would be delivered.

After another “production delay,” Darling acknowledged in a June 21, 2021, posting on the campaign page that he couldn’t deliver the watches and promised to refund donors. He also wrote that all of the money contributed by donors had been used to buy the watches.

When refunds were slow to come, many donors filed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and shared their dissatisfaction in the comments section of the Kickstarter campaign page.

The Attorney General’s Office initiated an investigation, discovering that Darling had deposited the donations into his personal bank account and had purchased cryptocurrency, among other things, but made no purchases toward fulfilling the campaign promises. The investigation also uncovered that Darling had no evidence that he ever attempted to produce the watches.

In November 2021, the Attorney General sued Darling, alleging violations of both the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act and the Ohio Charitable Organizations Act.

Under the settlement announced today by Yost, Darling, among other things, must:

  • Pay full restitution to any campaign supporters whose donations haven’t been refunded.
  • Pay a civil penalty of $2,000 for the consumer law violations and an additional $2,000 civil penalty for the charitable law violations.
  • Not conduct any “charitable sales promotions” or act as a “commercial co-venturer” in Ohio for five years and, after that period, only if he meets certain conditions.
  • Pay court costs.

Crowd-funding scams have been on the rise, leaving consumers vulnerable to deceptive campaign operators. This case underscores AG Yost’s dedication to protecting consumers and ensuring that campaign operators satisfy their obligations.

Contributors to the Turtle Conservation Diver campaign who haven’t received a refund are eligible for restitution. If you were promised goods you did not receive from this or another crowd-funding campaign, you can file a complaint by calling 1-800-282-0515 or by filing one online at  

Hannah Hundley: 614-906-9113

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