How to Spot a Crowdfunding Scam
I really hate to be writing this article. I wish we lived in a world where everyone was honest and obeyed the law, but sadly that is not the case. You’ve no doubt heard of crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe. What makes these platforms unique is that you can fund all sorts of projects for charity, families in crisis and even money to pay someone’s rent. Most of these campaigns are legitimate. But, as you guessed it, crowdfunding sites don’t have an unscrupulous person filter on it. Which means anyone can start a money gathering campaign for a cause even though they have no affiliation with that cause.
The crowdfunding site GoFundMe maintains that fraud using its website is rare. I’m sure it is statistically. However, here are several stories from ABC News that confirm cases of fraudulent campaigns promising to help sick children. What kind of person rips off a family in their darkest hour? While you may not be able to solve the problem of fraudulent crowdfunding campaigns, you can know what to look for to make sure your hard earned dollars are going to the people who need it most. Here are a few questions you need to ask yourself before you open your heart and wallet online.
Does the Family Support It?
The first thing you need to look for when donating to a family in need is if the actual family is supporting the fundraising campaign. Do family members post links to the fund on social media? Do you hear them talking about it on the news? Are local media outlets linking to it? If they all are, then chances are you are good to be generous.
Can the Story be Confirmed?
Scammers will use Google images and real content to pull at your heartstrings to get you to open up your wallet. Before you do, make a quick search to confirm the names and places of the event or people in need. If you can’t find any evidence of the existence of the people involved then you are most likely looking at a scam. If you see a social media page with the same photos as the crowdfunding campaign with only posts to the donate link, then you’ve most likely found a scammer.
Do I Have to Use the Website?
Doing things online is natural for us. Crowdfunding sites make it easier for charities and groups to get their message out with a donate link attached. This is easy. But if you feel led to help an organization or family in need, but you don’t trust the crowdfunding campaign, then get involved beyond the website. Call the organization yourself and make a donation. Better yet, get your church or civic group together to raise money on your own to give directly to those who need it.
Sites like GoFundMe strive to give donors and beneficiaries the best fundraising experience possible. I’m sure they get just as upset when someone uses their platform to rip off charities and people in need. Crowdfunding sites do offer a link to report fraud. However, if fraud has been detected, then the account holder has most likely digitally packed up and moved on before the campaign can be frozen. These sites don’t have the time or the manpower to vet each campaign organizer. So this is where we have to use some common sense with our common decency.
God teaches us to be generous, so do not hesitate to help. Don’t be afraid to donate to a worthy cause using a crowdfunding site. Just use some common sense and remember these tips and you’re sure to do the right thing.