The website names have soared to 8,800 from fewer than 900 in January, according to the North American Securities Administrators Association, a Washington-based group of state securities regulators. They are proliferating as businesses await rules from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for structuring crowdfunding deals, the group said.
A future surge of crowdfunding-related websites could also lead to an increase in online investor fraud, NASAA said.
Crowdfunding is a capital-raising strategy in which investors buy small stakes in ventures through various websites. It started as a way to ask many people for small amounts of money to fund everything from documentaries to community projects, often in exchange for a free service or product.
Interest in crowdfunding exploded when President Barack Obama signed the 2012 Jumpstart our Business Startups, or JOBS Act, in April. The law, aimed at boosting small business growth, legalized crowdfunding as a way for businesses to solicit private investors with the promise of potential returns on their money.