Erica Ritz reports on a scam...er, uh, similar to one traced to my neighborhood a while ago...
At least the Gate City woman who allegedly shaved her child's head and kept the child out of school, while posting Facebook appeals for help with cancer treatment for a child who apparently was never diagnosed with cancer or any other serious disease, was just trying to make a living without getting a job or going on welfare. Brittany Ozarowski, who obviously is ill, was supporting a drug addiction.
Nevertheless...here's my comment, likely to be buried under other people's indignation by midafternoon.
Before sending money to ANY cause online, one should observe the situation over time and check out how realistic the plea for funds is.
E.g.: Someone asks you to support a web site. The web site exists; you see something on it that’s worth supporting. That’s definitely legitimate.
Someone asks you to buy something online. You buy something cheap–e.g. a used book from Amazon or ceramic pin from Etsy. The object arrives. Your credit card or Paypal account isn’t hacked. You’ve verified that that’s legitimate.
Someone asks you to contribute to their effort to raise a LOT of money for some expensive cause, whether it’s a medical treatment fund, a charitable mission, constructing or restoring a building, or whatever else. Ongoing effort, lots and lots of money solicited. If you trust a person or organization, e.g. the Red Cross, you might just mail a $500 check to some foreign country. If you don’t know the person or organization, you might be better advised to conduct a little further investigation, just to make sure the cause actually exists, before donating.
Actually, it’s a good idea to investigate even what claim to be online fundraising efforts for people and causes you trust…scam artists can’t LEGALLY call themselves the Red Cross if they’re not, but that doesn’t mean they can’t collect money for a few days and run!
This web site invites financial support; periodically, for those whose browsers don't support the "Donate" buttons scattered around the site, I invite readers to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to sponsor an advertorial (for the cost of advertising in a printed magazine) and/or pay for what you've read (we suggest the cost of buying a printed magazine). Definitely legitimate. You can verify that this web site exists; if you want your name, company name, book title, even a simple JPG photo to appear on this site, you can verify that that will happen.
Can you verify that the Cat Sanctuary exists? One reason why I've not tried to turn my home into a 501(c)(3) charity, although the place is dedicated to a valid charitable cause, is that I don't want to invite everybody in the world to come out and see the cats, me, and my immediate family in our private home.
Can you verify that Cornerstone Communications exists? Yes; although we don't (yet) have a physical store set up where people can buy books, use computers, and so on, you can use the e-mail address above to see what's been accomplished so far. When the money stacks up to the required level, the store, the computers, and the other goodies will materialize. If you want to see the sites under consideration and the amount of money necessary to open a store in each one, you can e-mail us this afternoon, meet with me tomorrow, and find out what you need to know in order to become a funder (or member).
And you should do that, Gentle Readers. Trust that most people have good intentions (whether they agree with you or not)...and verify that the people to whom you're giving money are in that majority. Unfortunately, although the majority of human beings are not scam artists, the majority of scam artists are asking you for money; therefore a disproportionate percentage of the people who ask you for money are likely to be scam artists.