Is your money for others going to the right place?

Is your money for others going to the right place?


Social media in the 21st Century is always roaring with different issues every day. Issues can be something minor, for example, whether you like pineapple on pizza or not. Or it can be something global, such as LGBTQ+ community or the Black Lives Matter movement.  when these issues become viral, people often express their opinions on them either by liking, commenting, sharing, or reposting. A survey conducted with ISSH high school students showed that about 80% of the students were participating in spreading awareness about a particular issue on social media.

People frequently use social media in order to express their sympathy towards a particular ongoing issue. They spread the word; upload posts with certain hashtags to show support; donate through charities posted on social media. All of these are for a good cause, not expecting anything in return. Unfortunately, their obliging actions are frequently stained by others who plan to use their courtesy against them. Social media has never been free from users trying to create a misleading view of others. For instance, people can publish fabricated news or information that can spread a misleading view on a topic or person. This prevents people from receiving authentic news using factual sources. 

What is even worse, is that, recently, people have come up with ways to trick people online. To earn money is their ultimate goal. They use fake accounts on social media that look like a charity open for donations concerning the events happening around the world. They will get sympathy from other users, leading them to end up donating to the account. Since they are fake accounts, the money will not go toward the place where it is actually needed, but to the scammers. 

An example of this incident was noticed when the scammers targeted the disastrous floods in Australia. Their main targets were those who have already donated to the victims, asking them if they would like to make any further donations. Scammers would ask the donors to purchase gift cards in order to supply the victims with basic equipment for survival. They were using the sympathy of those donors, which they have shown already by donating to the real charity. However, it was later confirmed by the original charity, Leedal Foundation, that all the accounts asking for extra donations were not owned by them. The government of Western Australia informed their people about the scammers trying to get donations for the flood victims and how any private messages introducing themselves as the charity and asking for additional donations could be considered a scam. 

One of the recent disasters, the Turkey-Syria earthquake, has not been able to escape the scammers’ attention as well. With the impact of earthquakes being tremendously huge, it was an easy target for scammers to gain sympathy from others. On TikTok, there is a function that enables the users to send digital gifts to the owner of the channel, when they are on live. People have used these functions to encourage people to donate to their channels. Users have been found to use video footage of Turkey or Syria after the earthquake was hit in order to increase people’s sympathy towards the tragedy. In addition to that, people will also use old footage of other disasters around the world, claiming that they are people suffering from Turkey-Syria earthquakes. Of course, it is hardly likely that those donations actually end up to those in need, as the accounts calling out for donations are not connected to any actual charities raising money for them. Alongside TikTok, on Twitter, scammers have been using people’s sympathetic reactions towards this incident in order to raise money for themselves. They created multiple AI-generated pictures claiming that it was from the disaster, and asking for people’s donations. They used online bank account numbers, and PayPal links and asked users to donate. However, BBC later found out a few of the numbers were already used in 2018 for spams and scams. Although some people claimed that it was an actual donation link for Turkey and Syria and that they were willing to show proof of it, in the end, there were no actual receipts proving that.

Scammers do not stop there. Since the bigger the tragedies are, the more sympathy people show toward them and are willing to donate to them. Scammers have also used multiple other methods in order to scam people who are willing to help victims of the Russia-Ukraine war. It was reported by the BBC about how online scammers have also created a fake charity encouraging people to donate to Ukraine. They found out many scammers have used actual resources from real charities, helping Ukraine’s military, in order to take donations for themselves. They would use the charities’ information, and Facebook profiles of real charities, deluding the donors. These actions prevented actual fundraisers who were working arduously in order to provide supplies needed for soldiers fighting in the first line in Ukraine. Furthermore, scams like these will also affect soldiers fighting in wars who are desperate for any help they can get. 

Of course, as there is always light in the darkest of times, it is not impossible for everyone to avoid scammers. Although it is a time-consuming process, in order to make sure money goes to the right place, people should confirm the reliability of the charity. A few of the simplest ways to figure out if you are donating to the right places are:

  • Research the charity you are planning to donate to: Instead of hastily donating to a charity found online, it is safer to research the charity. Look for news or personal reviews of that charity discussing how the past donations were used. An online organization, called Charity Navigator, have evaluated and rated over 200,000 charities. Their website also provides various charities you can donate to for specific incidents, which can help you to decide the correct charity to donate to. 
  • Donate from their official website: Often scammers will make a fake social media account claiming to be one of the reliable charities. Therefore, instead of using bank accounts linked on their social media accounts, you should find the official website and donate from there.
  • Check the method of donation: One of the most common ways scammers use when receiving donations is by making you donate using cash or gift cards. This is because it becomes easier for scammers to get away with receiving donations since cash and gift cards hardly leave any online record and becomes difficult to track the money. Reliable charities will often use credit cards when getting donations, which leaves a digital record of your donations. 

Donors should take time to make sure their money is heading to the right place and people. 

As much as social media has made donations and given attention to tragedies around the world, some people have used it to scam people. The sympathy people have for others should not be something that is used against them for one’s own benefit.

However, it is still hopeful to think despite all the obstacles, how many people continue to find safe ways to donate to those in need.