Jane’s vil­lain of the fort­night

Computer Active (UK) - - News - ‘Mike Collins’ Want to nom­i­nate a vil­lain of the fort­night? Email us at ed­i­tor@com­put­er­ac­tive.co.uk

Poor Mike. His 17-year-old cousin Poppy died in the Manch­ester bomb­ing, and he wanted to raise money for her funeral. So he set up a page on the char­ity web­site Gofundme (see screen­shot) and waited for the cash to flood in from soft-hearted strangers.

You know what’s com­ing, don’t you? Poppy didn’t die. Poppy never ex­isted. Mike Collins – pre­sum­ably a pseu­do­nym – had stolen a photo of a real girl and used it to set up the bo­gus page. The scam was only ex­posed when the girl, Nisa Ayral, spot­ted her photo. She urged Gofundme to re­move the page, and ac­cord­ing to re­ports they didn’t act im­me­di­ately. It’s gone now, but Gofundme wouldn’t reveal how much money ‘Mike Collins’ had made in the mean­time, or whether he’d kept it.

I have real prob­lems with sites like Gofundme. Per­haps it’s my Bri­tish aver­sion to ask­ing for money, but I find the trend un­nerv­ing – and it’s wide open to abuse. By ex­ploit­ing a ter­ri­ble tragedy and prey­ing on peo­ple’s good­will, ‘Mike Collins’ has achieved a new low.

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