Last week, I wrote about the changes that Kickstarter made late last year, aiming to educate backers and provide a little more accountability to project creators, after several over-funded projects flushed backers’ money down the drain. Despite the improvements at Kickstarter, scams are still prevalent on the popular crowd funding site. Most projects that fail to deliver are technology- or gaming-related, however even food-related projects aren’t immune from possible scammers.

It’s All About the Money, Money, Money

For best results, play the video while you read. It sets the tone quite nicely, I think.

Just this morning, a group of filmmakers exposed most-likely the largest Kickstarter food project scam, literally just minutes before funding. Kickstarter shut down the Kobe Red project, which promised to deliver mouthwatering beef jerky made from Japanese cows fed on 100% organic feed and treated to beer and massages just before scammers would have successfully made off with $120,309 from the project’s 3,252 backers.

In my previous article, I talked about one food-related project that really caught my eye. First, it happens to be a project by a food blog that I’ve read before – one that was local to me when I lived in Sacramento a couple of years ago.  But, then it’s also strangely similar to another recent story by  over at Crowdfund Insider about Seth Quest of San Francisco who raised $35,000 for his Hanfree iPad stand, then failed to deliver any rewards to backers. The Hanfree project allegedly became the first Kickstarter project where a backer, Neil Singh of Arizona sued a project creator.

As I read through 50 comments from backers on the Poor Girl Eats Well cookbook Kickstarter, I saw some very familiar tell-tale signs that this project may have been destined for failure from the onset, and it rang strangely similar to Neil Singh’s experience with the Hanfree project. I decided to reach out to some of the backers, and get their take on the project. I spoke with Alejandro Galaviz from Texas. He and his wife backed the Poor Girl Eats Well cookbook Kickstarter nearly a year ago, and have all but given up any hope that they’ll see a finished cookbook, let alone the homemade cookies Morales promised.


But First, The Back Story

Kimberly Morales, Sacramento, California resident, and owner of the Poor Girl Eats Well blog amassed more than 20,000 fans on her Facebook fan page, and had all of the makings of a successful cookbook Kickstarter. She successfully raised nearly $12,000 of a $9750 goal nearly one year ago, but frustrated backers are still waiting for the cookbook with no word from Morales. Having been familiar with the Poor Girl Eats Well blog, I was surprised to discover the tragic outcome of this project.

It began with an appeal in a heartfelt letter posted to the Poor Girl Eats Well blog on April 2, 2012, the same day that the Poor Girl Eats Well Cookbook Kickstarter campaign was launched, opening with “My Dearest Family, Friends and Fans,” and taking readers back over a four-year period, leading up to writing a book.

On the Poor Girl Eats Well Cookbook Kickstarter page, Morales describes the blog, her mission, and provides some detail of the progress of the book.

“This will be a professionally designed, professionally printed book! The majority of the funds will go towards designing and printing the final piece. Most of the content is written and ready to go, but I need your help with the final steps. I need all I can to get this project completed. So, I’m asking my amazing community to come on board with me in the process. Let’s do this together! Publishing this book will not only mean a signed  copy for you to keep and use, but you’ll be supporting Poor Girl Eats Well and helping me keep the site going while I add new features and content.” (emphasis added)

The project included various reward gifts for pledges between $5 and $5,000 with deliveries ranging from June, 2012 through August, 2012.

  • Custom, signed PGEW recipe cards
  • Backers’ names placed on the Poor Girl Eats Well website
  • Bonus eBook, “The $25 Shopping Cart”
  • Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies (1/2 and full dozen)
  • Poor Girl Eats Well Cookbook (eBook)
  • Signed, printed copy of the Poor Girl Eats Well cookbook
  • Poor Girl Eats Well canvas shopping bag (from Cafe Press)
  • Poor Girl Eats Well apron (from Cafe Press)
  • One month above-the-fold advertising on the homepage

Other than “professionally designed, professionally printed,” neither the Kickstarter campaign nor the Poor Girl Eats Well blog described the print specifications of the book. Was it to be hardbound? Paperback? Was cover art created? What would the dimensions be? What type of paper would it be printed on? Why are funds for the book production being used to keep the website going? The project description is ambiguous, at best.


Mixed Messages

Morales posted updates to the Kickstarter campaign page on April 4, April 12, and a final update on May 9, 2012, three days prior to the close of the campaign. In the April 12 update, Morales said,

“We’re getting close to 40% funding, which is fantastic, but we still have a long way to go.  But that doesn’t mean work isn’t getting done!  The list of exclusive new recipes to be featured in the new book is growing daily, and the Tips section just got a fresh new outline detailing all the other tips I’ll be sharing, so there will be a lot of good stuff in there.”

In the same update, Morales announced,

“Lastly, I took a moment to get a few common questions answered in the new FAQ section, so check that out for some updates & ideas on how you can help make this project dream into reality.”

Buried within the Frequently Asked Questions, Morales announced that the actual delivery date of the cookbook would be in November, 2012, not August. This was the first mention of a date change on the project.

“There wasn’t a way to make this clear in the incentive section, but basically the incentives will ship out on the dates listed, and the book will ship once it is actually complete. There’s still a lot left to work on, including recipe testing, photo shoots, etc., so the book will take a bit longer.  I’m hoping to have it ready by November 2012, so it’ll be just in time for the holidays! :)”

Lost and Confused Signpost

To Be (Written) or Not to Be (Written) … Wait, what was the question?

Her statement, “There’s still a lot left to work on, including recipe testing, photo shoots, etc., so the book will take a bit longer,” conflicts with her statements on April 2, when Morales launched the campaign, and wrote, “Most of the content is written and ready to go.”

By the evening of May 7, the project had reached 100% funding, and an ecstatic Morales asked backers to continue pledging, and slipped another date change in, seemingly unnoticed,

“Remember, every extra dollar over the goal amount means more pictures, more recipes – just more. And that will make the book that much more awesome, which is what we’re all hoping for! Pledging now vs. waiting for the book to be released in December, also means you get perks! The $25 & higher tiers include things like signed copies of the book, free shipping on the book, PGEW swag, and cookies.”

Little did backers know, this would be the final update that Morales would write on the Kickstarter campaign page.

On May 17, 2012, five days after the Kickstarter campaign closed, Morales wrote another blog post, announcing her Kickstarter success, and giving backers a glimpse into the first steps of her cookbook production.

“So what’s next, you may ask? Well… a lot! To say I have my work cut out for me is quite an understatement. Though a lot of the book is already being written, there is still a ton of recipe testing, tip-writing, etc. to be done, not to mention the 188 dozen cookies to bake (!!!) and 230 books to sign (!!!!!!!!) for all you fantastic backers.” (emphasis added)

In the same blog post, she asked backers for suggestions on recipes to include in the cookbook – she received 25 responses.

In a Facebook status update on June 1, 2012 on the Poor Girl Eats Well page, Morales announced that she had started writing the cookbook, despite her previous conflicting status updates which indicated the book was mostly written.

“Outline I love: Check. Solid first set of new, exclusive recipes to style & shoot:Check. Small freak out moment at the realization that yes, this is really happening: Check. Knowing I’m doing exactly what I should be doing with my life: CHECK.
*deep breath*
And so it begins. Chapter One, Page 1.”



Beginning in July, 2012, backers began asking for project updates in the Kickstarter campaign comments. Morales did not respond to any comments on the campaign page, however on August 20, she posted a status update on the Poor Girl Eats Well Facebook page with an abbreviated outline of four sections of the book.

On September 18, 2012 – the same day she published a scathing blog post, Time Out: Bloggers are people, not machines, ranting about readers asking questions or criticizing the blog, health crises, and living with severe pain – Morales responded to a comment on the Kickstarter comments page via email to Jason TS Chiu. In her email, which Chiu reposted to the Kickstarter comments, Morales explains that she was unaware that backers expected updates, assured him that she was working on the book, and promised an update in a couple of days.


A Prelude to Silence

There were no updates on the Kickstarter page. In fact, there were no updates anywhere until Christmas eve, 2012, in the form of a blog post, Updates: Tech Issues, New PGEW Book Release Date/Sneak Peeks, and I Got a New Job! where she asks readers for technical assistance with the Poor Girl Eats Well blog. Most of the blog post describes technical challenges related to changing the blog format, and the “personal betrayal” by a former best friend who was ultimately responsible for maintaining the website.

As it turns out, this “former best friend” was also responsible for the design and layout of the cookbook. On December 24, Morales announced that due to these technical issues with her website, and the “personal betrayal,” delivery of the final cookbook would be delayed until March, 2013. But, in parting she left readers with a full chapter outline which would be the final Kickstarter project update on the Poor Girl Eats Well blog… or anywhere for that matter.

Since that final update on December 24, announcing that the cookbook would be delayed until March, seven months later than the original delivery date, there have been no project updates whatsoever. Backers looking for answers have continued posting comments to the Kickstarter page, but they’ve gone unattended. All fan comments to the Poor Girl Eats Well Facebook page have been removed. For all intents and purposes, the project simply does not exist.

A Backer Speaks About Poor Girl Eats Well – The Cookbook

Alejandro Galaviz from Texas spoke to me about his experience with the project – he and several other backers could very well be the next Neil Singh who sued the Hanfree project creator when he failed to deliver on his promises.

SND: A lot has happened since this project was launched. It seems there’s been confusion about what people would receive and when. What are your thoughts on that… what did you expect to receive and when?

AG: We expected to receive her finished product, her book. I’ve backed other Kickstarter Projects before, mainly board games because I am a big board gamer. Delays can be common in that industry but I can’t begin to stress the importance of communication. In all those cases they were constantly in communication with us telling us what was going on. So it was easy to deal with delays. In Kimberly’s case, she specifically stated on her page that… “Most of the content is written and ready to go…” and it turns out that this wasn’t the case.

SND: Yes, when the project launched, Morales said that the book was mostly written, but since then we’ve seen nothing more than a chapter outline. What happened?

AG: At first, I wanted to believe that she ran into some issues publishing the book or with her “friend” who we still don’t know much about. However, over time I began to realize that she completely left all her backers in the dark about the project. I now feel that she maliciously mislead her backers and somehow believes she can continue to ignore the problem and it will go away. So what do I think happened? She stole twelve thousand dollars. She hasn’t produced any kind of evidence to convince me otherwise.

SND: The Poor Girl Eats Well blog has a strong fan base with over 20,000 fans on its Facebook page. None of this seems “in character.” Have you seen any indication of what went wrong?

AG: Good question, because it seems that we continue to get excuses and excuses and none of it ever seems to be her fault. It’s always someone else or some other issue. She is never culpable for her actions.

SND: Most of the rewards for this project are ready-made items, like the apron and the bag, or easy to fulfill, like the cookies. Some of the rewards are essentially free, like listing backers’ names on the website. But none of these have been fulfilled – or at least, we see no indication that they have been. Why do you think none of the rewards have been fulfilled to date?

AG: She was jobless at one point in time and desperately low on funds. I imagine she probably spent the money to keep her finances afloat. So, to put it bluntly she spent it.

SND: Do you believe there has been any progress on the book – has Morales continued writing?

AG: I’m speculating, but I believe she has not continued writing the book because the project was probably never in that stage. The only “progress” we’ve seen so far was her Chapter List that she’s referred us to at least twice. That’s fantastic. I can write up a chapter list for a non-existent book in a matter of minutes. “Feast your eyes on that”… So I believe that the book was never truly “mostly written”.

SND: What do you think about how Morales has communicated as the creator of the project?

AG: Kimberly has communicated poorly on the project, I can’t stress that enough; very poor communication on her part. You can see the requests for updates on the Kickstarter page and her Facebook page. It is interesting to note that I have attempted to leave several comments on her blog politely asking for updates and they always require “moderation” before going live. Guess what? They never get posted. She continues to avoid the issue as much as possible. I wouldn’t even consider her communicating about her project, she is flat out avoiding and dodging the issues.

SND: At this point, nothing’s been delivered, the cookbook delivery has been pushed out three times, and there’s been no status reported for nearly six months. The book is now three months passed the latest delivery – seven months since the first – and backers’ comments on the Kickstarter page seem to indicate that all hope is lost. What would make it right for you right now?

AG: What would make it right for me? An open and public apology to all her followers, admission that she squandered the funds, and a full refund to all her backers. As far as I’m concerned, she’s lost credibility in the food blogverse. If she was residing in Texas, I wouldn’t hesitate to take her to small claims court. Believe me… it’s crossed my mind many times.


If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.
About the Author

Chris Ford is the founder of Stitches 'n Dishes and editor in chief with a passion for food, photography and travel. Chris is a Media Correspondent for the Food Network TV show, Eat St, a syndicated blogger, seasoned event organizer and promoter, a food critic, a marketing consultant and Social Media Marketing expert. Chris is also a fashion and entertainment photographer. When he's not dining on the sidewalk, he's snapping photos on the catwalk.

  • Pingback: What Makes or Breaks a #Kickstarter #Food Project

  • Pingback: Poor Girl Eats Very Well Thanks to Possible Cookbook Kickstarter ScamSocial Shebang

  • Mary-Margaret Walker

    Who does these things for such small amounts of money? $100 million is my bottom line for a good swindle. I just can’t come up with one for a $100 million. :-)

    • StitchesnDishes

      HAHA! Think big, Mary-Margaret!

    • Chris Sandys

      She is a small time con man. To be a big one, you have to not only be a thief, but a very intelligent one to boot.

  • Steven L. Johnson

    Quite an cautionary tale, Chris.

    Every time I’ve contributed to a Kickstarter project, I viewed my money as a donation. If I the project succeeds and I get something in return, that’s great. If not, that’s okay, too.

    There’s so much uncertainty involved, I only spend money I’m willing to lose and on people who I think are attempting something interesting.

    • StitchesnDishes

      I think that’s a great attitude to have, Steven. Kickstarter could help that by making it more clear to backers, and project creators should think more carefully about what they’re promising, as well.

  • MightyCasey

    Venal is as venal does – there are thieves all over ever’where, so no major surprise that they’re running ’round on Kickstarter. I’ll repeat what I’ve said on this topic elsewhere: caveat emptor, and always be ready to say buh-bye to invested chedda. ‘Cause there are no guarantees in investing … other than that there are no guarantees.

    • StitchesnDishes

      I agree with you Casey, but even Kickstarter doesn’t know how many people visit the site and believe they are shopping, rather than investing. Adding a few words to the terms of service and in a blog post doesn’t really educated people. This is the reason we’re still seeing people demanding refunds, etc.

      I think if a creator is negligent, there should be legal recourse for backers. If a creator runs into manufacturing or design issues, and the project ultimately costs more than expected… well that’s to be expected. And no, I don’t think everyone should get a refund in those cases. But the creator should be held accountable and be able to demonstrate that they made the attempt, just as they would with any other stakeholders in their businesses.

      • MightyCasey

        Agree 100% on the need for transparency and full disclosure, 360º. However, if people are hitting Kickstarter and thinking it’s a freaking *shopping mall*, then the #epicfail of American education is worse than I thought. Sheesh. I guess the Forrest Gump sideswipe wasn’t really off target.

        • StitchesnDishes

          HAHA! You’d be surprised… pretty unbelievable, but it’s true. KS was forced to update their TOS after multiple projects failed to deliver, then the Hanfree landed in court. I haven’t ever backed a project myself… maybe I should try it out to see what people are seeing. It should be clear when they pledge that they’re investing in a project, not buying a product. KS said on their own blog that they don’t know how many people still believe they’re shopping when they visit the site.

          • MightyCasey

            That’s one of the many reasons I only back projects that align with my own efforts (Medstartr is healthcare-only) and/or values (the Indiegogo project to buy Wardenclyffe, Nicola Tesla’s home and lab, was too audacious/kewl to pass up – and they did it, they raised $1.3M and BOUGHT Wardenclyffe this month!). Geeks unite, that’s my motto for investing. The Wardenclyffe project link:–5

          • StitchesnDishes

            That’s awesome, Casey! Wow. What an amazing project and I love the title! LMAO

          • MightyCasey

            Tesla’s research has informed much of what we take for granted almost 100 years after he was told he was crazy for thinking it was possible. Edison got all the attention, due to his political/PR skills. Tesla died in obscurity. Waldenclyffe RISES!

  • Justin Wheeler

    Quite a post! I have enjoyed Kickstarter the few times I have made a donation… I think the key word there is donation and that you need to treat Kickstarter projects as donations and everything else is a bonus.

    Having said that I am yet to be tempted to give more than about 25 bucks, so I suspect had I gone all in on one of them I might be a bit miffed.

    I guess like anything doing your research before giving away larger sums of money is always an essential thing to do.

    So when is the stitches and dishes Kickstarter project coming out?

    • StitchesnDishes

      I like to think of it as an investment rather than a donation, simply because of the way KS is structured. There is a level of accountability that every investor should expect, but like a donation, you know you’re giving your money away. If it were truly a donation, you wouldn’t pledge based on project promises. Either way, though backers should learn to lower expectations and creators need to be more diligent in communicating with them.

      And don’t be surprised to see a Stitches ‘n Dishes Kickstarter one day! We have two projects we’ve worked on for a couple of years now that I think would be awesome on KS!

  • Jim & Kristi Hall

    wow i guess you can do whatever you want in any industry :

    • StitchesnDishes

      Or… at least until the industry pushes back!

  • StitchesnDishes

    Well Chris… I couldn’t have said it better myself – probably because I’m not in the financial industry! LOL You really hit the nail on the head – and I completely understand where you’re coming from.

    You’re 100% right – there is a risk in any investment. Maybe that’s the reason I haven’t invested in a project, myself. I would be less likely to support a project that’s introduced by an individual rather than a business… absolutely.

    No private company will share its financials with investors at the levels we’re talking about on KS, though, so due diligence can only go so far. We can see reputation, history, social standing, customer service, etc. We can look at public records for incorporation, and we can even search for liens. Of course, the depths we go are hinged on the amount of risk we’re taking.

    And therein lies the conundrum. Most people are probably pledging $100 or less. The KS campaigns are really directed toward the future customers – brand ambassadors. In many cases, the KS creators are inexperienced to begin with, and I think they over-commit.

    Since the campaign isn’t really directed to “investors,” people tend to see themselves as customers. After all, they’re pledging money in order to receive the snazzy new product. At least, that’s what they tend to think they’re doing. Kickstarter doesn’t even know how many people who visit their site to back projects actually believe they’re buying something.

    So while everything you point out couldn’t be more accurate, it’s all still pulling the wool over consumers’ eyes. Because, in their world, they’re still just consumers – they don’t really understand that they’re not buying anything… they’re only pledging support of an idea.

  • Sandor Benko

    I think she’s making a huge error in judgement. She’s destroying her online reputation over 12k.

    • StitchesnDishes

      You’re absolutely right, Sandor. How much is reputation worth? I’d have to say it’s priceless, in my opinion.

  • Holly Jahangiri

    Maybe these folks should’ve read first! :)

    It’s a shame when a few bad apples spoil a good thing – and damage the trust that’s required to keep something like Kickstarter a viable option for innovators.

    • StitchesnDishes

      True… not only is personal reputation at stake, but the reputations of those that come after you. Every time something like this happens, it’s another blemish on the general reputation of crowd funding.

  • Matthew Callahan

    Unbelievable. Kickstarter is such an amazing platform, so to see people take advantage of it like this is disgusting.

    • StitchesnDishes

      It is unfortunate, Matthew. I mentioned in my comment earlier that these situations not only scar the reputations of the project creators, but the reputation of crowd funding in general.

  • Ron

    It’s too bad when someone abuses a program and takes advantage of others. That can’t end in any happiness for the violator!

    • StitchesnDishes

      I guess that’s what karma’s for, Ron. Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances, and that’s understandable. In one case I read, the project was a comic book. The artist nearly severed his hand in a freak accident. It delayed the project for nearly a year due to numerous extensive surgeries. But even then, he had someone communicating on his behalf, keeping backers updated. Communication is key – it doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad news. People want to hear it. Sure, nobody wants bad news, but we’re a lot better off by being transparent and open than burying our heads in the sand, hoping the problem will just disappear.

  • Gabe DeArmond

    Superb article Chris!! I hope the people who put their money up and showed their support will take her to court. Even if they get nothing out of it the people who support these kickstarters need to send a message out that says, we don’t tolerate cheaters! She should be ashamed of herself for taking advantage of people that way. It’s ironic because her site is all about helping people on a tight budget, then she turns around and steals from them. It’s not alot of money either. It’s the principle of it though because of the way she just ignores everyone as if they don’t even exist after they put her up on a pedestal, backed her up, and this is how she treats them.

    • StitchesnDishes

      Thanks Gabe! My sense is that’s exactly how the backers feel. It’s a betrayal. There were a couple of them who pledged at the $500 level, and 20 who pledged at the $100 mark. The others were pretty evenly distributed below the $100 level. Still, for many people, even $20 can be a stretch. The general tone I saw was a feeling of betrayal and being conned. Even if it’s only $5, if it’s stolen, the person will feel violated. So, I think the feelings you have are probably echoed throughout the backers.

      • Gabe DeArmond

        I think I’d be mad about any amount, but for $100 I’d be loud about it and for $500 I’d be screaming about it. They must have had alot of faith and trust to do that!!

        • StitchesnDishes

          The backers for this project were primarily fans and friends of fans. PGEW is a great blog. The fan base is real. The blog is written very well and it helps a lot of people. People appreciate it and look forward to the posts. She posts recipes that she creates and shows people how to eat healthy meals on a dime. So, yes… I think there was a ton of faith and trust behind every pledge made, and that’s the reason 311 people are left bewildered and feeling betrayed. In comparison to other KS scams out there, this one is really small potatoes. From a money perspective and the number of backers, it’s a fraction of what others have gotten away with. I think there’s more burn to this one – the underlying, consistent theme I’ve seen from backers is, “we believed in you and you let us down.” That’s the takeaway here.

  • transcendev

    Well, I gotta say, while it totally sucks to get ripped off. Any time you invest in anything you’ve got to be aware there is risk involved. Risk that includes the person or biz your investing in may take the money and run. That doesn’t excuse what’s happened here, but just some “food” for thought. Hope no one got skunked for a $5k pledge! Bummer!

    • StitchesnDishes

      You’re absolutely right, and it’s a tough lesson to learn. Crowdfunding on sites like Kickstarter is a bit deceptive, though. I completely agree that backers should be aware and understand that it’s a risky proposition. Unfortunately, we know that many people believe they’re placing an order for an item – pre-orders for a brand new product. Kickstarter did make some changes to the system to make it more clear, but their changes were focused primarily in the technology area on the site. If they’d take a stronger approach to informing backers so they understand exactly what their pledges mean, we’d have fewer instances like this one. On the other hand, many people would probably stop supporting projects if they really understood the risk… I wonder…

      • transcendev

        I see that angle as well. I know a lot of music artists use it which lends credibility to it being something of a pre-order thing. Hope it doesn’t deter anyone from using it again though. I’m curious how many funded projects never see the light of day.

        • StitchesnDishes

          Me too… I’m very curious about that. I actually spent many hours scouring the internet to find other examples. This is one metric that Kickstarter doesn’t report on. They track projects up to the close of a campaign. They only know which projects were funded or not. A project progress tracking system would make a lot of sense, raise awareness and bring transparency to the site.

          • transcendev

            I might have to check if Kickstarter has a programming API that a developer such as myself might be able to create that sort of tracking system for ;)

          • StitchesnDishes

            Now that’s a terrific idea! I’d love to see a site that tracks projects. There’s no fulfillment section on Kickstarter, though. You can track comments and updates, or the number of them.

          • transcendev

            As long as they have an API that allows access to a list of “funded” projects, then someone could easily create a system for tracking/accountability that could connect directly to the project listings on Kickstarter.

          • StitchesnDishes

            Now you’ve got me excited… It would be great to see something like that. Maybe you’ll be the guy who saves crowd funding from itself!

          • transcendev

            Well… I did some poking around, and sadly they have no public API for which to develop such a thing. :^

          • StitchesnDishes

            I guess we’ll need to suggest it :-)

  • tony greene

    That’s really terrible. But sometimes it takes this type of stuff to make folks aware of their unending need to be included in something. She definitely played the backers for a long time.

    It’s surprising that a site like kickstarter doesn’t police these things with diligence.