Being fooled by someone incredibly convincing on social media is something that can happen to the best of us. It’s nothing to feel ashamed of, and some people can be very convincing. Let’s take two opposite ends of the spectrum; on one side, you have Martin Lewis, who fundraises for charity, gives free financial advice to those who struggle, and is transparent about all of the money donated to him and where it has been used. On the other end of the spectrum, you have someone like Jack Monroe who has been outed using her OWN WORDS on numerous blogs and in the media for taking money into her Patreon and not fulfilling rewards, rattling her tip jar, and pretending to be “poor” and being about as transparent as mud regarding a Teemill fundraiser. No matter how smart and capable of seeing through complete BS we think we are, there is one thing that can pull anyone in, and that’s emotion.
Seeing a heart-wrenching story about someone struggling to buy food or heat their home can make you more disposed to donate money via unorthodox methods. It’s only natural this happens, but unfortunately, as much as the genuine people who need help have noticed this, so have the huge number of people looking to scam kind hearts online. And that’s when the question is, “was it grifted or gifted?”. A true gift you give someone else because you want to. It isn’t just outright ASKING that covers the “grifted” part of these situations. Emotional manipulation is ABSOLUTELY part of people like this’s long-term goal to part you with your money.
I’ve put together a few questions you should ask yourself before you part with your hard-earned cash.
Do you know them? Do they seem reputable online?
If you know someone personally, it stands to reason it is easier to figure out if they are genuine or not than it is with people online. But you can still do a good background check on anyone asking for money on social media. Firstly, are they using their real name? There is absolutely nothing wrong with staying anonymous on social media and an anonymous account might not be suspicious in itself, but it could be if there are other red flags. Secondly, how long has the account been online? Some scammers will go to the ends of the earth to build up fake profiles, and others will just be looking to make a quick buck. Again, this is something that may not be suspicious alone but could be with other things that don’t sit right with you. It’s also worth having a look at the content of the person’s feed, and how much they engage with users.
Does their story add up?
Dear readers, far be it for me to call anyone a liar. I’m acutely aware some of the things that have happened in my life so far sound unbelievable. But some things are just so OBVIOUS it’s like they have been lying, they might as well have their profile name as “big Billy B”. Take someone I had as a friend on one of my social media accounts. One minute this person had no food and not enough to get anything to eat but the next they were wanting a refund from Uber Eats for their food being cold. This person was perpetually single and lonely and struggling on one income (or benefits, every week was different) until a competition came along where the prize would only be awarded to a couple. It isn’t easy to recognize this type of behavior unless you are looking for it, and the way social media algorithms show you so little content from singular people doesn’t help either. The best way to keep an eye on someone’s story is to monitor what they are saying about it for a couple of weeks. After all, if they GENUINELY want the money for good causes, they won’t mind waiting a while. If they do need the money urgently for food, fuel, etc, then help them if you do feel they are being honest, of course.
How much are they asking for?
The clever thing about internet scammers is that they won’t start asking for huge amounts of money. If all of the Netflix documentaries I have watched in the past are true, this applies to scammers in general. You might even find that if you give small amounts of money to someone, initially, they can easily account for where it went or how it was used. This is the stage of the scam where the person is building their trust so that they can not only ask for more but also expect you to be less vigilant in checking receipts.
But when it comes to how much, I’d say the most important tip I have here, and probably in this article is this; ONLY GIVE AN AMOUNT YOU CAN AFFORD TO LOSE WITHOUT AFFECTING YOUR LIFE.
What payment method are they asking you to use?
This is an easy way to catch someone out, in the wonderful world of technology we live in. I’m aware sites like JustGiving and GoFundMe don’t necessarily do vigilant checks, but they are a very public face of a campaign with several donations showing clearly on the landing page for the fundraiser. They are both free to use, and just take a cut of donations. If someone is raising money for a cause or a charity, there is absolutely no viable reason on this God-given earth for them to not be using these.
Personal PayPal accounts, CashApp, bank transfers, etc are a RED FLAG.
Look, I hate to write posts this negative, especially because some genuine, decent people that struggle and need help. But unfortunately, over the last few months on my various social media accounts and internet lurking, I’ve seen too many people be manipulated into giving what little money they have, only for it to ostensibly be spent helping good causes, and ultimately ending up in the picket of some Z-lister on Twitter. If you believe in your heart that someone deserves money for their personal PayPal or subscription service without anything in return, and you can afford it, then go for it. But if you are tight for money yourself, please be careful when you see stories designed to play on your emotions.
Love to know your thoughts guys?