I recently stumbled upon a website called www.prizes.org. The concept is solid: People post design contests, questions, writing assignments, etc. and award a winner based on the best work. This is similar to a website that I contribute to frequently called www.designcrowd.com, but it incorporates more than just design.
Well, the other day I made my first submissions to prizes.org to a logo contest for a bag company. "Gourth Bags" was looking for a fresh new logo to go on their backpacks, briefcases, handbags, etc. Here are the two logo designs that I submitted to the competition:
As it turns out, the winner was selected and that was that. Or so I thought. I started getting emails about the comments submitted to the contest that it was actually a fraud. What the contest creator did was submit his/her own design as a different user and select it as the winner. The result being that the owner of Gourth Bags was able to view over 500 logo options and steal a lot of designers' ideas without paying a cent. They essentially gave themselves the $800 of their own prize money and browsed all of the submissions to steal our ideas.
Prizes.org caught onto this and investigated the issue...but nothing was really resolved. The contest creator claimed that they were not in fact the same person who had won the competion. Thus, nothing could be done.
I will probably submit more to prizes.org contests...but I will definitely be watching out for other scams like this. As a freelance designer, getting your work stolen is one of the worst things that could happen. We do things like this to make our living. And when we are molested like this, it really sets us back.