The Internet has made crowdfunding so much easy to start and manage, especially on the largest crowdfunding platform, GoFundMe. While some popular GoFundMe crowdfunding campaigns originating in Zimbabwe have raised thousands of dollars for worthy causes, a recent campaign was started with ulterior motives- to defraud well-intentioned people.
We all know the story of a popular or unpopular pastor, Apostle Chiwenga who was recently involved in an accident and got injured. Some scammers saw an opportunity to capitalize on the Pastor’s popularity went on to create a $20000 GoFundMe campaign to cash in on unsuspecting donors. See the campaign below:
Luckily, before the scammers reached their $20000 target, Apostle Pastor T.F Chiwenga Ministries administration notified the public that this GoFundMe campaign was a fraud. And now the campaign has been taken off by theGoFundMe administrators.
This GoFundMe campaign is certainly not the first bogus fundraising project that I have heard of (but its the first I have heard of to originate from Zimbabwe). This year a couple in the US were charged with fraud for launching a $400 000 GoFundMe campaign. Now the important question is how can one spot a fraudulent GoFundMe campaign or just any type of fraudulent crowdsourcing.
How to spot fake GoFundMe campaigns
Look at who’s organizing the campaign.
GoFundMe suggests starting by looking at who is running the campaign. Before you donate, the company suggests, know how the organizer is related to the recipient. Campaigns, where the relationship isn’t clear, may be a red flag. At the very least, take a minute to Google the name of both the recipient and the campaign organizer.
Do a reverse image search on Google.
Downloading a photo of someone else’s crisis and pretending it’s your own is easy to do. But so is it easy spotting such campaigns spotting. Download the campaign image or copy paste the link and run a reverse image search. You may find the same image shared on the organizer’s social media pages, but steer clear of any campaigns where the images came from a different person entirely. (The same trick can also help spot fake news and doctored photographs).
Read the comment section.
Reading through the comments before backing a crowdfunding campaign is a good idea that applies to identify scams. GoFundMe suggests looking for supportive comments from friends and family of the recipient. Lack of comments may also be a red flag.
Support GoFundMe campaigns from people that you know.
Support campaigns for the people that you know, or friends of friends. If a stranger sends you a message asking for GoFundMe support, there’s a bigger chance that it’s not the real deal. The suggestion comes from Adrienne Gonzalez, founder of GoFraudMe, which reports fraudulent fundraising projects.
Fund the original campaign.
Some scammers aren’t creative enough to make up their own story – they take a story that’s gone viral and create a separate campaign. Do a quick Google search and make sure there’s only one campaign from one organizer.
Reporting a fake GoFundMe campaign
If you do find a GoFundMe scam, help the potential donors after you by reporting the campaign to GoFundMe. GoFundMe says that scams on the platform make up less than one-tenth of one percent of campaigns on the platform – but doing a little digging before funding a campaign can give you a better chance of actually doing some good.