Parents, BEWARE of Facebook 'donation' scams in Singapore!
Mums and dads, look out for Facebook donation scams in Singapore trying to take advantage of your emotions...
Most of us in Singapore have already come across the fund raising efforts for the “single mum with cancer.” We were all moved by the plight of this single mum and more than willing to pitch in our share of help.
Somewhere along though, things took an ugly turn.
Help for single mum with cancer
For those of you who aren’t aware of the story yet, on 1 June, social worker Vivian Pan, founder of the Single Parent Support Group (SPSG), put up a Facebook post requesting for donations for a single mum diagnosed with stage two cervical cancer.
She wrote, “Urgent Help needed! 1 of my single mother is diagnosed with stage 2 cervical cancer. Doctor mentions too late to remove ovary, she has to prepare for chemo treatment. She Pm me yesterday. Asking to exchange her 3 big tins of milo for $40 ntuc vouchers.”
“She is a single mother, her 2 children are both in primary school. Everyday after work, she will cook for her children. She is a very good mother.”
“Each S’porean pls, $1 each from each of u please. Let’s make a difference to help her and her children life pls. If 100 people donate $1 each, she gets $100, if 1000 people donate $1 each, she gets $1000. $1 hope please. $1 from you is all I plead for, on behalf of her.”
As expected, there was an outpouring of support for this post from Singaporeans. No details were divulged publicly on how exactly the money was to be transferred. Donors were instead asked to personal message (PM) Pan for the information. And that is probably what led to the mess that followed.
Facebook ‘donation’ scams in Singapore
Then on June 4, Vivian put up a shocking post, saying that Facebook user, ‘Romeo Chesser’ had claimed to be an agent from SPSG, and used the ‘single mum’ cause to collect funds for himself.
Vivian has been quoted by Stomp as saying, “This scammer contacted my friend via Facebook and asked her to transfer the donations to an address in America. Luckily my friend was perceptive and saw through the deception.”
She immediately lodged a police report and investigations are still going on.
This incident highlights how important it is to be transparent, when collecting money for a cause. Vivian also had to deal with accusations of being a scammer herself, something she has vehemently denied.
How can we spot Facebook donation ‘scams’ in Singapore?
For those worried if a fund raising attempt is genuine or fake, here are some tips that will hopefully help:
Run a Google search: As simple as it sounds, take the original message and paste it into Google’s search engine. If it’s a scam, you’ll likely get several results indicating it is.
- Lack of transparency: Watch out for donation requests that refuse to provide detailed information about their identity, mission, costs, and how the donation will be used.
Be especially careful if they use high-pressure tactics to get you to donate immediately, without giving you the time to think about it or research.
- Don’t provide personal information: Do not provide your credit card or check number, bank account number or any other personal information until you’ve thoroughly researched the charity.
- Demands donations only in cash: Never respond to requests to donate through a money transfer company such as Western Union or MoneyGram – fraudsters commonly use this in scams.
Wiring money is like sending cash; once you send it, you can’t get it back. If you think you might have given your account details to a fraudster, get in contact with your bank immediately.
Also for security and tax purposes, it’s apparently best to pay by check — made payable to the charity — or by credit card.
- In Singapore, while fundraising can be conducted by non-charities, all public collections of money require the fund-raiser to produce a copy of the collector’s Certificate of Authority, issued by the Singapore Police (SPF) or the National Council of Social Service (NCSS).
You can request the fund-raiser to show you the collector’s Certificate.