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EC: Is This Crowd-Funded Coffee Table-Fridge Hybrid Actually a Scam?
Credit: Photo courtesy of StoreBound

Crowd-funding campaigns have really changed the game. Want to watch a new Veronica Mars or Super Troopers? There's a Kickstarter for that. Need money for an emergency surgery? Indiegogo might be able to help, if you're interesting enough. Have a prototype invention? Let GoFundMe decide if it makes it to market.

That's the idea the people at StoreBound have for the Sobro, a "smart" coffee table that is also a cooler, sound system, and charging station for all your devices. Over on Indiegogo, the campaign has already raised over $700K. Check out their slick campaign video.

On face value, this seems like a great idea. Who wouldn't want a 21st century coffee table that will store cold drinks and keep your iPhone charged? However, as The Verge points out, there are some issues with crowdfunding the Sobro. The product itself is reminiscent of the Coolest, another smart cooler that raised $13 million on Kickstarter but resorted to selling on Amazon in order to defray costs that arose after a strike impacted the cooler's production. Similarly, the Sobro will allegedly sell for about $1500 but is available to backers for a fraction of that price.

Even more worrisome, according to Redditors over at r/shittykickstarters, is the fact that very, very similar products are already available on several online retailers like Amazon and Alibaba in a wide range of prices. Could this be a case of rebranding or even industrial espionage? Or is it a scam like Reddit says? It certainly seems possible that the people at StoreBound are re-selling or rebranding an item that can be found elsewhere and marking up the price, even for early backers.

Needless to say, having raised more than 1400 percent of their goal and received positive coverage on sites like CNET and The Daily Dot, the Sobro is a crowdfunding success story, even if it some people think it's a shady one.