Thanks to a conveniently timed event and thread over at PokerFraudAlert, I have the opportunity to write this article that I was sort of planning to write in the first place.
Granted, the fundamental nature of the subject has a sort of loose gambling tie-in, but now we actually have the subject of online altruism related directly to a poker player; hence, this is now undeniably a gambling-related article.
DISCLAIMER AND GENERAL WARNING: I am about to discuss online altruism, disease and raising money for such causes in an extremely matter-of-fact, some might even say cynical, tone; if you are not emotionally prepared for that, then I very much encourage you to navigate away right now.
Online altruism is a rapidly spreading concept in which people seek out the direct help of others, on sites such as GoFundMe, often to help out with medical expenses and other significant life events.
As you can see, I have the link above queued up to search for GoFundMe drives related to cancer, which, as of the time of this writing, will yield more than 500 active fundraisers.
Another search, this time for, “House fire,” yields another 500+ results for active fundraisers. Tornadoes, more than 500 results. Can anyone think of something that doesn’t happen all that often? At this point, I’m just trying to find a topic that has fewer than 500 active fundraisers.
How about Lyme Disease; not that many people get full blown Lyme Disease now, right? More than 500 of those, too? Well, shit. Fortunately, we only have thirteen results for, “Stoneman Syndrome,” which I only know exists because I looked for the rarest diseases in the United States.
The point is that there is no shortage of these types of GoFundMes, but the one problem you run into is that not all of them are legitimate (though most probably are), and even of those which are legitimate, we see that it’s somewhat easy to slip through the cracks as many of these fundraisers are nowhere near their (sometimes modest) goals. For example, one of the GoFundMes for a kid with Stoneman Syndrome has raised zero dollars in nearly a year.
That’s right; in the most technologically advanced state of humanity that has ever existed, part of that technology is devoted to teaching people how to be better at begging; we should be so proud of our advancements as a people! (That’s sarcasm, for anyone who has trouble reading for that.)
TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL GOFUNDME
Some might accuse me of over paraphrasing from the above links, but let’s be honest: Some of these tips are fairly obvious. This is really more of a question of rudimentary marketing/advertising as much as it is anything else. With that, here are some of the tips for setting up a successful GoFundMe:
1.) Use an eye-catching cover photo
-There are a variety of ways that a person could use a cover photo to their advantage. For example, pictures of a person in a hospital bed are generally going to evoke feelings of sympathy, but sometimes, it’s better to use a picture of the person when they were healthy—especially if they don’t visually appear all that ill anyway.
-If you’re setting up a GoFundMe for a child, then you could perhaps look into creating a side-by-side of the child in good health followed by the child in poor health, especially if the child’s ailment is a very visually apparent one.
-For couples, it’s probably advisable to use a picture of the two of you together as a couple. Whether coupled or not, a picture of the person for whom the fundraiser exists with their pet, such as a cute dog, might be compelling for some people.
-When dealing with a parent who is suffering some sort of terrible malady, it might be beneficial to do a picture of that parent with their child/children, or alternatively, a side by side with them and the kid(s) when they were healthy compared to the other picture of them dying in a hospital bed.
-Naturally, all apologies if this section sounds overly cavalier about these sorts of things, but you’re going to want to pull out all the stops.
2.) Write the campaign description well
-It’s important to note that you don’t have to be in possession of Ernest Hemmingway’s writing faculties, or anything like that, but getting some to click directly to your actual full GoFundMe page is only the first step. People have seen the picture and were compelled enough by that and the nature of the cause to look at the full page.
-Your first paragraph is going to want to accomplish two things: First, you want to evoke the reader’s sympathy (that should be fairly easy), but second, you want to make them like the person for whom the GoFundMe is set up. With that, you can write a description of the person, what they are going through, and hit some bullet points on the positive things they have done in life. Teacher? Excellent. Youth football coach? Terrific! Charitable event organizer? You betcha! Really, anything you can do to show that the person has already given to others and is now in need of help, which they very much deserve, would be a positive.
3.) Tap into other social media outlets
-It’s not sufficient to simply create a GoFundMe and have it just sit there as you wait for donations to hopefully come rolling in. That strategy, if it could even be called that, would be entirely too passive.
-Instead, you’re going to need to get active on other social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and other things of that nature if you aren’t already. You’ll also have to do a little bit of social media networking if you don’t already have high friends/followers counts; my best advice in that regard would probably be to reach out to some content creators who already have a strong social media presence and try to get them to give you a pop.
-Of course, one imagines that there are a great number of GoFundMe organizers already pursuing such a strategy, so you’re going to have some competition. Also, especially for larger social media content creators, there’s likely to be a significant vetting process as they are not going to want to promote any GoFundMes that end up just being a scam anyway.
-If you’re not already extremely active on these social media platforms—then get active. One way of doing that is to interact with other social media pages that already have more followers, probably most successfully done by leaving comments on their pages. If you can leave a comment that gets someone to click on your profile, which then links to your GoFundMe, then that could result in more eyes seeing your drive.
4.) Keep people posted (Totally paraphrased)
-This one I am totally paraphrasing from the GoFundMe page, but they recommend keeping your GoFundMe active by posting frequent updates related to the ups and downs of your journey. It seems somewhat likely to me that the algorithm may also like pages that are being updated regularly, so this tactic is almost certainly a good idea.
-You will also want to do the same thing on your other social media channels, as well. Here’s what the GoFundMe page on the topic has to say:
If you view each donation as the beginning of someone caring, not the end, you can see the importance of posting updates. As you post updates, you bring donors into an unfolding story. And when potential donors see this, it inspires them to become part of the story as it unfolds.
We see a direct correlation between the frequency of updates and the volume of funds people raise. Update your donors often. In your updates, share good news as well as hardships, and do so as often as you might fill in a close friend. See our blog post for tips on writing a fundraiser update.
-Again, this is the peddling of both misery and hopefulness alike, so being fully transparent and honest with your experiences along your journey will be enormously helpful in the ultimate goal of getting people to give you more money.
5.) Explain where the money is going
-This is one suggestion that I don’t necessarily see so directly expressed, but it makes sense to me that you would want to give something of a breakdown of what precisely this money is for, assuming that the campaign reaches its goal.
-I don’t know that it’s always going to be enough just to pick an arbitrary number and say that it is for some kind of treatment. What might (or might not) be more feasible would be to give a quick breakdown of other monies that you have coming in, what your regular bills amount to and what your medical care expenses (if applicable) are costing you out of pocket.
-Personally, I think this would be a good idea because it shows, with some level of specificity, exactly why and how you are upside down on money. We can try to dress this up in as flowery a way as you would like, but at the end of the day, you’re ultimately trying to convince family, friends, co-workers, loose acquaintances and total strangers alike to give you money. I can’t speak for everyone on Earth, obviously, but I would be more likely to give if I had an understanding of precisely why cash money is going to be helpful to you.
-If you’re making your bills, have some sort of income (such as retirement) and are medically insured and paying nothing out of pocket, then I would have trouble understanding exactly what the money is supposed to be doing for you.
6.) Be OPTIMISTIC and future looking
-This is another tip that doesn’t seem to be as directly stated on the advice sites, but to the extent that you want to live, it’s important to answer why you want to live.
-In the event that this is some medical-related thing, then I think it would be compelling for people to say exactly what their goals and aspirations are in the event that they see the other side of what ails them. Again, accomplishing this might require a sort of optimism that you might not exactly be feeling at the moment, but sharing your plans for the future, especially if they are emotionally gripping, might be a step in the right direction for your campaign.
7.) Consider Other Outlets
-The ADayInYourShoes site (linked above) suggested contacting your local newspaper, news, news sites, radio stations, etc…to hopefully get them to drop a mention of your GoFundMe page. In my opinion, standard short of call-in shows, if any still exist in your area, might be a positive prospective outlet as they just want to put compelling stuff out there anyway.
-Beyond that, you might even consider even less technological means such as putting, or having someone put, fliers with a description with links to your GoFundMe on community bulletin boards in such places as the grocery store, library, civic gathering place, Panera Bread and basically just anywhere that will allow the flier to be posted.
-The bottom line is this is going to be all about networking, marketing and advertising. You might be in the fight of your life to overcome a terrible illness, but that’s not going to matter if nobody knows about it. Anywhere that will permit you to spread the word is a great place to spread the word.
-You could also perhaps tap into the church market who might either offer prayers for you while directing the congregation to your GoFundMe page, or in the alternative, might actually set up a totally separate fundraiser within the church for you. If you’re not religious, it might be better if the churches think you are, so you can decide whether or not you want to lie about that. It might even benefit you to pick a church (and you can use location and appearance as an indicator of how wealthy the congregants may or may not be—do reconnaissance or have it done for you) and reach out to them that you may be nearing your end and would like to be saved by Jesus, or whatever the case.
-Even if you have to pledge yourself to a church and, “Get Saved,” or whatever, it’s almost certainly worth it if your goal is to live. There’s nothing that a church would love more than to drag you up on that stage, especially if you look like you’re in terrible shape, lay hands upon and pray over you, then ask for the congregants to donate money to your cause—which will make them feel really good about themselves, as well. Hell, you could even have a video taken of it and put it on your GoFundMe page, Youtube and other socials.
8.) Consider hiring a writer (Not Me!)
-You might also want to consider just hiring a writer to handle your GoFundMe page, at least, initially. I am not the writer you want to hire as eliciting an emotional response, or conveying emotion in a way that might evoke empathy, is really not my strong suit. However, you can get online and look at various sites, but it might be more effective to find writers on sites such as Facebook, or other socials, and just reach out to them directly.
-If you use some of the online websites for hiring writers, you might get a great price, but you’ll often end up getting something back that is barely recognizable as being written in the English language, so that isn’t going to help you. You’re going to want this writer to have some level of skill, so if you read something they have written that you find emotionally evocative, then they might be a good choice to write your GoFundMe.
-Again, I AM NOT YOUR GUY FOR THIS!!! Honestly, I would probably do it for someone for free, if they asked politely, but the page is going to end up reading like a statement of facts that will evoke very close to nothing, on an emotional level, for the reader.
SCAMMING AND THE DOWNFALLS OF BEING AN ALTRUISTIC STRANGER
Here’s the thing: The world is certainly not a place that is wanting for more scams, or, pseudo scams. In fact, it seems that scams, or something close to them, are becoming something of a running theme in my writings as I have discussed characters such as DSucky Vegas Experience, scams perpetrated by players (or attempted) against online casinos, an article that also contains information about a casino basically scamming a player and guys such as The Nutty Professor with his supposedly money winning slot schemes.
However, the gambling world is not the only societal venue where there are scams aplenty, far from it, in fact. One of the more notable scams perpetrated upon unsuspecting investors was that of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi Scheme, which you will find no shortage of materials on by Googling just that.
Of course, gambling and traditional investing aren’t the only arenas in which scams aplenty can be found; my huge Wizard of Odds page that looked into collectibles investing, with a focus on the Magic: The Gathering, trading/collectible card game also briefly touched upon the subject of people selling counterfeit cards online.
Naturally, the world of charitable donations is not insulated from online scams. This recent Grunge article lists some of the more recent (and major) charity scams that wholly, or partly, used the Internet to their advantage. In fact, one such charity that was founded was the National Children’s Leukemia Foundation upon which Grunge states, in part:
One such example is the National Children's Leukemia Foundation (NCLF), which was founded by a man who reportedly lost his own son to leukemia and therefore had an intimate understanding of what the families of leukemia patients need. NCLF took in around $9.7 million in charitable contributions, but according to CNN spent only $57,000 on assistance for leukemia patients. A whopping $1.3 million plus perks went directly into the pocket of NCLF's founder, that's right, the guy who lost his son.
They say, “A picture’s worth a thousand words,” but I guess that guy must have been staring at a picture of his dead kid and thought, “No, I can do better than that. In fact, I can do better than this picture being worth a thousand dollars.”
Of course, as Televangelist Jim Bakker would illustrate, the Internet is not a resource that is strictly needed.
That said, having the Internet at your disposal certainly helps. For one thing, the platforms for the fundraising are provided freely, which means that everyone has a chance of reaching significant numbers of potential donors. NJ.com illustrates a few scamming cases that were specific to GoFundMe.
The first of these was, surprisingly enough, a legitimate fundraiser for a good samaritan homeless man who, as the story is told, gave a young lady $20 for gas, his last $20, in fact, when her car broke down. Touched by the man’s generosity, they set up a GoFundMe for him that raised $400,000 in fairly short order. The homeless man, perhaps not truly a stranger to greed, sued the couple on the grounds that he only received a small portion (roughly $75,000) of the money; here is how that turned out.
Wait…what makes the homeless guy greedy?
First of all, $75,000 would certainly have made him better off than he was before he encountered the young lady and did his Good Samaritan Act, but unfortunately, the Good Samaritan Act itself was also a lie. The event simply did not happen. The whole thing was a ruse.
Of course, GoFundMe took the action of refunding all of the donors in this campaign, but it would have been so easy for them not to have been caught. For one thing, maybe don’t actively involve the legal system when you’re perpetrating fraud upon others.
The $2,000 Gamble
There must be something to casino states, because the next story detailed by NJ takes place in Carson City, Nevada, wherein a mother first claimed her son had cancer, then claimed he died, over the series of some months and, apparently, managed to raise about two thousand dollars.
Honestly, that would be a pretty poor showing, in my opinion, even if her cause had been legitimate. For that two grand, she has evidently been sentenced to more than twelve years in prison, not for the fraud, but because she did, in fact, convince her own son that he was dying of leukemia and coached him up on acting the part.
She could have just got a part-time job at a gas station; it would arguably have required less effort on her part! Of course, GoFundMe gave this statement:
GoFundMe spokeswoman Katherine Cichy said Morrison has been banned from the site and that contributions made on behalf of the boy will be refunded to donors.
Misuse makes up “up less than one-tenth of 1 percent of all campaigns,” she said.
They have no idea what percentage it makes up because that would require all of these people to get caught. Like I stated above, that New Jersey couple, and their homeless cohort, would have cleared mid six figures if only they hadn’t first screwed the guy on his take, then second, the guy being stupid enough to actually sue them in a court of law!
Here’s another one related to medical treatment, same source:
Canadian woman fakes brain disease
In November 2014, a woman named Cynthia Smith of Burlington, Ontario faked a rare neurological disorder to raise more than $126,000 in a campaign.
According to The Hamilton Spectator, Smith convinced her loved ones that she had overcome organ failure and a massive stroke, both part of a rapid onset of chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP). But soon doubts were raised about Smith's supposed illness and it was determined that she was not ill.
In May 2015, Smith was charged with defrauding the public of more than $5,000.
She would go on to plead guilty in October 2016, to a lesser charge of fraud under $5,000. Smith was allowed to go with two years of probation. Police were able to recover just $7,200 of the money Smith raised, according to the Burlington Post.
The next one after that on the page is another incident of faking a child’s cancer, which seems to be a somewhat popular one. Getting your kids involved is a REALLY bad idea if you are hoping to get away with something of this nature; you get into all sorts of child protection laws when you do that.
Of course, the last guy listed on the NJ page beat the hell out of his dog, so that he could raise funds for, “Emergency surgery,” for a dog that he adopted which had been abused. Of course, it was only AFTER he adopted the dog that it ever got abused, but he didn’t mention that.
THE RECENT GAMBLING WORLD GOFUNDME
Anyway, the above section was just meant to highlight some of the various charity and GoFundMe scams that have taken place over the years.
It bears repeating that not everyone who has ever sped has received a speeding ticket for every single instance of speeding, so for GoFundMe to claim that, ‘Misuse,’ makes up less than 0.1% of all of their campaigns strikes me as abject bullshit. What they should say is, “We know that misuse, in terms of proven cases, makes up, at a minimum, about 0.1% of our campaigns.”
Of course, they offer the guarantee that they do because GoFundMe rakes in 2.9% + $0.30, of all donations that are made on their site. Let me be clear: That doesn’t make GoFundMe a bad site, in fact, if they are only taking some 3-4% of all monies donated, in total, then more money is likely going to what they are actually organizing for than just about any other charitable outlet.
That’s sort of the thing, though—when we ask the question of whether or not the money being donated to the person (in terms of what the person gets) is actually going to what they claim, well, we really don’t know. Some of these donation targets seem fairly arbitrary, either that, or hospital billing companies just really LOVE round numbers. $54,198.72 for this treatment? Eh, let’s just call it fifty grand, “Miss, this treatment is going to cost exactly fifty grand.”
That brings us back to the Poker Fraud Alert threat that we linked to in the introduction which, not coincidentally, would see a poker player asking for fifty grand on GoFundMe.
You’re free to navigate to that OP on PFA, but it alleges that this Jami Lafay hasn’t always been the most morally upstanding individual in the poker community, but hey, we’re really just a microcosm of gray area in the gambling community, in general, so meh.
For example, despite promoting positive mental health and being caring of potential mental health issues that people might have on one Tweet, a later Twitter hubbub would consist of her describing calling out a player at a poker table for being, “Stinky.” At worst, I would look at that as mild hypocrisy, so it really doesn’t mean anything taken alone. Of course, when you’re out there on a public platform asking for people to give, not lend, you money, I suppose people are going to be inclined to look at body of work.
There was also some drama, evidently, involving another female, Native American, poker player.
And…uh…yeah, not touching it. Read it if you want to.
Next thing we have involving this person is her setting up a suicide scare.
And, again, I’m not commenting. No thank you.
The only thing that I will say is that she probably could have put up a GoFundMe seeking money for mental health treatment and nobody would have batted an eye. $50,000 would probably have been a little optimistic, but I’m sure there are some targets that might have been reached, and given her recent behavior, would have been quite credible!
The page for Jami’s cancer GoFundMe page can be found here, and it checks all, or most of, the boxes that I listed above to have a successful fundraising endeavor!
1.) Eye Catching Cover Photo
-Arguably. The cover photo is Jami looking great at a poker table, so they went with the tactic of leading with a person in a state that is not visually ill. Of course, there are various pictures of Jami in the hospital on the actual GoFundMe page.
-This strategy makes sense because some would certainly find Jami attractive, the poker world also tends to be male dominated, so using a picture of her looking pretty good at the poker table makes a certain kind of sense as a strategy. Again, this fundraiser also wisely used pictures of her in the hospital on the actual page, so it’s a pretty good mix.
2.) Writing the Campaign Description Well
-She shoots, she scores! This description is separated into clear sections and begins with an introduction to who Jami is, how she lights up the room and how she has been subject to a, “Bad run,” recently. The introduction then states that it would really help if people could spare, “Just a buyin or two for your main game (or even just a few big blinds),” that it would be huge for Jami.*
*The wording on this is very well done! The poker references are going to be very eye-catching and serve as a wink to the target market for the donations. More than that, the verbiage implies that what is really just a small amount of money to you, that you’re using for the purposes of playing poker anyway, would be huge to Jami right now. Expert level stuff.
-The next section describes the cancer and gets into detail on how the cancer is not Jami’s fault as she leads an extremely healthy lifestyle. Again, when you look at the cover photo for the campaign, Jami does indeed look like a person who takes great care of herself, so this sort of ties in with the cover photo in that way. Nicely done!
3.) Tap Into Other Social Media Outlets
-Jami has an active Twitter account. I don’t know what is being done on other social media outlets along these lines.
4.) Keep People Posted
-This is a relatively new fundraiser, four days young as of the time of this writing, so there really isn’t a whole lot to keep people posted on as an ongoing concern. That said, the webpage did a great job describing Jami’s surgeries and timetable for recovery from this surgery. The page also states that she’ll have to have another surgery after this.
5.) Explain Where the Money is Going
-This webpage somewhat does that, but is a bit lacking for detail. The page states:
Jami has the kindest heart out of anyone I know, and now she needs our help and support. Your generous donations will help with the following expenses:
Medical expenses not covered by insurance
Travel expenses to the cancer center and hospitals
Loss of income due to inability to work
-Okay, these explanations are reasonable enough, to be sure. I suppose some might say it leaves us wanting for a more detailed accounting that gets us to the $50,000 campaign goal that this GoFundMe is requesting. For one thing, the implication is that she is insured, so what is insurance not covering, specifically, and roughly how much is that expected to cost? One should assume that travel expenses are fairly negligible compared to these other expenses. How much income is needing to be replaced? How much would she normally profit, or be expected to profit, in this amount of time playing poker?
-Also, what medications are not being covered by insurance and how much are they expected to cost?
-Anyway, I think this item might have been improved with a little bit more of a detailed accounting.
6.) Be Optimistic and Future Looking
-The webpage spends most of its time speaking favorably of Jami herself, though there is a brief mention that she is doing better than she was. Honestly, I think the page might have done better to get into some of her plans when she comes out on the other side of this surgery and could have mentioned the things that she had planned that this surgery has delayed.
7.) Consider Tapping Other Outlets (Offline)
8.) Consider Hiring a Writer
-This was either done or is not necessary; this was pretty well-written.
Okay, so what’s the problem? It would appear that we have a poker player who has had to endure a cancer-related surgery, has another one upcoming, and is looking to cover expenses directly related, as well as replace income, in the interim. ‘
***With that, there are some other problems and discrepancies that are mentioned in the PFA thread, so I leave it for you to investigate that thread, if you wish. I haven’t done any direct independent research on either Jami Lefay or this particular fundraiser (beyond looking at her GoFundMe and looking for her on HendonPokerMob, where I didn’t find anything), so anything that I would be doing here would just be a recap.
QUESTIONING THE QUESTIONING OF GOFUNDMES
An interesting aside that can be found on the PFA thread is whether or not people should even be questioning the motives of those who claim to have cancer, or you can substitute any disease or situation for cancer in this instance.
I’m immediately going to opine that it is not unreasonable, nor should it be seen as unreasonable, to ask questions of people who are directly soliciting you for a monetary donation. If you were going to go into a bank and ask for a personal loan for a reason such as this, then you could be sure that there are going to be questions such as, “What collateral can you offer?”, and, “If you do not recover, by what mechanism are you going to be able to repay this debt?”
With that, it strikes me as odd that people should not be allowed to question the underlying validity of the very reason the person is wanting the money, or perhaps just as relevantly, why does the person need the precise amount of money they are asking for?
Again, there’s a sort of social stigma involved with questioning anyone who is suffering from something, particularly something as serious as cancer, but the mere condition of having cancer…or claiming to…does not mean the person is incapable of doing something wrong.
One of the above examples was that mother who claimed (and actually convinced the kid of) that the kid first had cancer, then second, died from said cancer.
I suppose what I am trying to say is the paradigm that we shouldn’t question people who claim to be suffering of these things might be the most socially acceptable paradigm possible, but it is certainly not the most pragmatic one for avoiding having someone defraud people or gain money on pretenses that might not be wholly misleading, but instead, could be a little bit misleading as there are grains of truth sprinkled in the mix.
The main thing that enables this sort of fraud, or perhaps semi-fraud when there are elements of truth to the underlying fundraising campaign, is specifically that—people not asking questions. People see something as a feel good story, or they see a campaign that elicits an emotional response from them…in any case, find themselves in a position where donating would feel good and that’s how these sorts of scams, almost certainly, sometimes succeed.
Again, GoFundMe’s quote related to 0.1% misuse, it immediately comes to my attention, is almost certainly based entirely on proven misuse. If we get into forms of misuse that haven’t been proven, then I would speculate the percentage of campaigns is much greater.
Beyond that, there’s a certain element of, “Well, why don’t you just mind your own business? If you don’t want to donate, then don’t, but why call into question whether or not the claim to which I am fundraising is totally legitimate?”
In the case of PFA, the simple answer to that is this Jami Lefay, apparently, is something of a semi-known poker player and PFA is kind of like a poker community watchdog.
THE PROBLEM WITH VILIFICATION
When it comes to these sorts of things, there’s going to be a natural tendency to attempt to vilify the person who is calling these sorts of fundraisers into question. With that, it might come to pass that a social stigma gets attached to them, or in this Internet age, that they find themselves subject to all sorts of attacks on social media, or perhaps worse.
Naturally, it is this concern with being potentially vilified that might cause a person to keep mum even if they know a scam is taking place. I’m not saying that this Jami Lefay GoFundMe is patently a scam as, at a minimum, it seems to have some elements of truth, but the fear of social reprisal online, or perhaps something even worse than that, might lead to a person who knows something to be a scam…potentially could even prove it…to be hesitant to say anything about it.
For that reason, I think the most prudent course of action, when someone is taking it upon themselves to look more closely into something like this, is just to let it play out and see where the conversations, inquiries and evidence goes. If it turns out that the accuser was woefully wrong, and they are socially ostracized accordingly, then that is a risk that they took.
However, if we make the social contract such that nobody is even allowed to call these sorts of things into question without social reprisal, despite having defensible reasons for wanting to do so, then we, as a society, make this sort of fraud more likely to be committed.
That’s going to be a net negative not only for the accuser, not only for the people who donate (which, to a certain extent, might be least harmed as one would presume they are willingly parting with money they could afford to part with anyway), but it is also a huge negative for would-be perpetrators of fraud. As we can see with the Carson City case, discussed above, a mother to multiple children has been sentenced to more than twelve years in prison all over $2,000-something bucks that she almost certainly spent almost as soon as it was in her hand.
As a result, there becomes a perception that something like a GoFundMe fraud would be relatively easy to get away with, and if someone is crafty, it probably would be.
For example, the trio from New Jersey would have cleared mid six figures, easily, had it not been for excessive greed. First, the couple was greedy for not making the split with the homeless guy in a way that he perceived as equitable. Secondly, the homeless guy ended up being unreasonably greedy and took the incomprehensible action of SUING the couple to recover funds that he KNEW had been fraudulently gained in the first place. Not really a smart move.
And, again, mere questioning is worlds away from declaring someone to be guilty based on no evidence whatsoever, as we saw in this poker scandal involving Robbi Jade Lew and Garrett Adelstein.
If Garrett had simply asked for her reasoning for calling that hand, or had quietly asked the production team to look into the hand after the stream was over, then it really wouldn’t have been such a big deal. We also wouldn’t have had half of the Poker Bros. in the world coming to snap decisions to declare Robbi absolutely guilty of cheating, despite the fact that they had no evidence whatsoever.
In other words, there’s something that exists between asking reasonable questions and organizing a witch hunt, so maybe try to find that middle ground. I’d say that the actions taken by PFA owner, Dan Druff, were somewhere reasonably in the middle.
HOW TO AVOID ONLINE FUNDRAISING SCAMS
Here’s my advice for how to avoid being scammed by an online fundraiser; it’s a really short list:
1.) Don’t give money to online fundraisers.
–END OF LIST–
Seriously, unless you personally know somebody and their situation, there is really no reason you should feel compelled to give to a GoFundMe campaign.
Here’s a spoiler alert: We all die in the end.
You got that? People go through hardships all the time, including total strangers who you will never meet or hear about (specifically) for any reason or in any context.
The only aspect that makes a particular stranger deserving of your donation is the fact that they managed to go viral, or for some other reason, managed to do effective marketing/networking/advertising and somehow got you to visit their GoFundMe, or other donation website, webpage. That’s it. The person was a commercial and the commercial compelled you to give money to the product, except it’s not, because you don’t actually get anything aside from self-satisfaction for feeling like you did something positive.
That doesn’t mean that people don’t deserve to have their suffering assuaged, whether it be by way of money, or otherwise. It doesn’t mean that people should be deprived of their lifestyles, or income, because of an unexpected illness. None of these things SHOULD happen, but they do, every single day, and you don’t hear about most of them.
If you know someone personally, or have at least been exposed to them to the extent that you are able to verify the need for the funds, then GO FOR IT! I would never say that people should not be giving or generous; I am simply suggesting that it is better to know who you are giving this sort of assistance to as the online world is rife for fraud and misrepresentation.
Besides, by taking care of someone who you can directly speak to, you will have likely made a friend for the rest of your life. I imagine that half of these GoFundMe people, even the legitimate ones, won’t even know your name a year after you have made the donation.
That’s everything that I have to say about this subject, for the time being.
As I stated in the introduction, it was the PFA thread that prompted me to write this article more quickly than I otherwise might have, but I sort of had the idea for it bouncing around my head. It certainly didn’t hurt that we had something that is, perhaps, along these sorts of lines actually take place in the world of gambling.
For those inclined to be generous, by all means, do so—just don’t be afraid to be intelligent about it. The only thing worse than you being scammed by a fake fundraiser is the fact that the fake fundraiser, it could be argued, may well have taken money that you might otherwise have donated to someone who actually needed it for a legitimate reason. Know who you’re giving to.