Comedians slams post who want to ask $ 200K of donations if experts warn that such scams may affect real calls
A photo of the ill five-year-old daughter of comedian Mark Lee, who was allegedly used in a Facebook scam to hit the accused of potential victims.
Angry about how the scam tried to abuse his family for profit, Lee told The New Paper in Mandarin: "Of course I'm very angry, even if it's not my child's picture, it's an objectionable, disgusting thing to to do."
Such scams that abuse children point to the potential dangers of donations made online and on social media, charity experts reported to TNP.
They said donors should verify that what they see online is legitimate and understand where their donations go.
Andy Sim, director of digital innovation at the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Center (NVPC), who runs the online charity portal Giving.sg, said online fundraising is a useful tool, but runs a risk of fraud.
He said: "At NVPC we advocate and promote the provision of information, which means that the beneficiaries are encouraged to disclose where the gift goes, who is helping and what the impact is." At the same time, we encourage the donors to investigate the claims of the beneficiaries and more information about the cause they support. "
Crowdsfunding platform Ray of Hope Initiative (ROHI), director Tan En, said that such donation spam scans can have a negative effect on real calls.
Tan, 33, said: "The crowdfunding sector is very small here, there are only a few platforms, so if there is a scandal, people become skeptical."
A telltale sign of a dodgy donation drive is when people are told to transfer money directly to a bank account, he said.
Mr. Tan added, "Where money can be made, people will do it (try their luck.) Singaporeans are generally generous, people want to give."
To ensure the legitimacy, responsibility and transparency of their calls, the four main crowdfunding platforms here – Give.asia, Giving.sg, ROHI and SimplyGiving – have committed to use an industry code in January.
Charity Council chairman Gerard Ee, 69, said that people should be trained not to donate to ad hoc professions. He added: "One, it is hurtful when you are scammed, and two, a real charity is robbed."
Mr. Lee and his wife, Mrs. Catherine Ng, said last week on social media that they were aware of a message on Facebook asking for donations using a photograph of their daughter, Calynn, in a hospital ward. They said the post, which asked $ 200,000, was a scam and warned people not to fall for it.
The youngest of their three children was diagnosed with glomerulonephritis in May, a condition that affects the kidneys.
Ms. Ng, 45, told TNP: "(The doctors) can not confirm whether it will be completely gone or controlled, or that Calynn will be completely good."
Mr. Lee said he could not tell if someone was being duped because the friend who gave them a tip could no longer find the mail.
The photo in the alleged scam came from a Facebook page that Mrs. Ng and Mr. Lee set up last month to share experiences and get support from others who are dealing with the same condition.
Mr. Lee, who had initially hesitated to publicly share his daughter's illness, said he did not regret the decision because it had begun with good intentions.
The couple said that they will now be more careful when posting personal information online.
Ms. Ng said that this episode served to remind the public to be wary of such scams.
"It never occurred to me that posting a photo would give people the chance to give it a scam," she said.
This article was first published in The New Paper. Permission required for reproduction.