Have you noticed your socials feeds are riddled with heart wrenching appeals for clicks and support, and more critically, money? I know mine are, and they are relentless.
The stories are indeed tragic. Sick babies, burnt out homes, devastating injuries and cancer. So much cancer. There are also appeals for blood donation, hospitals, animal shelters and various charities. Lots of need, and limited funds.
These appeals are particularly compelling when they come from a local source, or for issues that touch our own situations. People who have big hearts donate generously because essentially humans are decent. We understand that it could be any of us, at any time and we need to spread the love around.
Passing the hat to help people who have fallen on hard times or are ill, is one of the most humane and selfless acts of generosity. Now, it is even easier to donate to causes we care about with on-line giving. A few clicks and you have saved a kitten or contributed to some kid’s bone marrow transplant. Whatever you care about, you can help in a New York minute with a donation sent through the web.
And therein lies the problem. Any jackass can come up with an appeal for funding on any issue. However for some reason cancer seems to be the trigger that gets people giving and makes them easy marks. The good and compassionate people on Facebook or wherever click away their money only to hear that the person they funded isn’t actually sick, or doesn’t even exist.Or worse, they never know they were taken for a rube.
There was a story sometime back about a woman who was pretty damned gutsy about her scam. She convinced people at her workplace that she had cancer, and was “pushing through it” and coming to work. She even shaved her head (talk about commitment). Her co-workers set up a fund for her, they created on line appeals and even held fundraising events for her expenses.
She never had cancer. She didn’t have so much as the bloody sniffles. Her main diagnosis is that she is a scumbag with no moral fiber. It was good to read that she was eventually charged for fraud, but those kindly donors were out their money, and likely a little piece of their souls too.
Another impact of this sort of story is that people become mistrustful and miserly when they are asked for help again. So the genuine tragedies that happen to good people are at risk of being viewed with a nasty skepticism because of a few terrible humans.
As a cancer warrior myself, I become apoplectic when I hear about these charlatans whose only motivation is to bilk the nicest people out of their money.
There isn’t much we can do, but like fact checking news, we must all look critically at any appeal for money. Do you know the person who posted the request? Can google find this patient? Stalk their social media and see what you can dig up.
We will never be able to stop these terrible scammers entirely, but charging them with fraud and calling them out on their crappy dealings can go a long way. And if you find out somebody you know has perpetrated this campaign of theft, drag them by the ear to a children’s cancer ward and beat them with an IV pole.