Jane’s villain of the fortnight
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.