Fundraising pages should require authentication to prevent fraud

After a man named?Philando Castile was shot and killed by a Minnesota police officer, a number of GoFundMe pages were started claiming to be raising funds for his family.

One page claimed to be set up by a friend of the dead man’s fiancee to support her and her daughter. So far it has raised more than $57,000 of its $75,000 goal.

According to the dead man’s mother, not only is this woman not her late-son’s fiance but her son died without children or a fiancee.

?I am so disgusted!! People are trying to capitalise on my son?s tragedy for personal gain through GoFundMe!!!? she wrote. ?1st of all Philando Castile does not have children nor a fiancee, the account for the Philando Castile Family is through his Sister?s account Allysza Castile, so Please, if you want to donate go to that account the rest are bogus! ! Shame on You!!!?

It made me wonder what protections, if any, fundraising pages in New Zealand have to prevent this kind of fraud? New Zealand’s most well-known online fundraising page is Givealittle, which is owned and operated by the Spark Foundation. In their terms section they mention that funds will go to a verified payee.?This means that I cannot defraud people by saying that I am Nicky Hager if I am not. However, this will not stop me from claiming that I am Nicky Hager’s love child.

By donating money through Givealittle every Donor accepts these Terms authorising the Spark Foundation to deduct the value of donation and pass on these amounts in full to a Verified Payee on their behalf.

Donors using Givealittle can chose to donate to a Fundraising Member either by making a direct donation, a conditional pledge or a planned donation. Direct donations are non-refundable so it appears that if you found out the payee was not who they said they were (eg Nicky Hager’s love child ) or their story was made up (they don’t actually have cancer) ?you cannot get your money back.

Donations are immediate, non-refundable, non-transferrable (sic) and non-disputable.

A conditional pledge means that money is only taken from your credit card if the target amount is reached, and a donor can cancel their pledge on request at any time before the pledge becomes an unconditional donation by [email protected] However, once it becomes unconditional …

…Unconditional donations are non-refundable, non-transferrable (sic) and non-disputable.

Planned donations are similar.

Donors that have registered and have a My Givealittle Account can create a Plan via recurring credit card payment or payroll giving. ?Any donation made via a Plan must be a minimum value of $1.

Once processed, all donations made via a Plan are immediate, non-refundable, non-transferable and non-disputable.

The code of conduct,?however, appears to provide some protection from fraud as it states:

When you use Givealittle for any purpose?you agree to:

  • generally, abide by the?Terms?and agree to the Spark Foundation’s right to actively monitor and engage with users around registration and activity under the detailed standards of the Terms
  • be honest and factual in all representations and information you make publicly available on Givealittle Pages
  • be co-operative and open in all interactions other Users, the Givealittle service team, the Spark Foundation, Spark New Zealand Trading Limited or other representatives
  • comply with all New Zealand law when considering your fundraising purpose or intentions for funds raised on Givealittle
  • take full responsibility for fulfilling your personal obligations, including any legislative, reporting or compliance requirements arising from receiving funds raised or making donations using Givealittle

When using Givealittle to fundraise online?for an organisation, cause, event or individual need, you agree to:

  • generally, abide by Givealittle’s?Terms?and agree to the Spark Foundation’s right to moderate your Content and verify the data and information you provide
  • represent your fundraising purpose and intentions honestly with the most complete and factual information
  • use all funds you raise on Givealittle for the purpose you advertise on your Givealittle page
  • provide regular updates to donors and champions using the tools provided
  • respond to all questions and requests for information from Users, the Givealittle service team, Spark Foundation, Spark New Zealand Trading Limited or other direct representatives of Givealittle promptly
  • immediately update your Givealittle page if your fundraising purpose or intentions for use of funds raised changes or you are not able to meet your good faith obligations to donors
  • co-operate with the Givealittle service team in the event that your fundraising purpose is interrupted, discontinued or unable to proceed for any reason.

Note: Where the Fundraising Member is not the Fundraising Beneficiary the Fundraising Member agrees to obtain the consent of the Fundraising Beneficiary prior to uploading any Content to a Givealittle Page that may contain personal information of the Fundraising Beneficiary. ??We reserve the right to remove any Content from any Givealittle Page, at our sole discretion and without notice, if requested by the Fundraising Beneficiary.

And when using Givealittle to donate online?you agree to…

  • immediately [email protected]?if the legitimacy of an organisation, cause or individual providing information on Givealittle is in doubt.

The only thing that is not explained there is whether or not you can get your money back after fraud has been detected. ?Considering the large amounts often raised by Givealittle I don’t think a fundraiser should be able to go ahead until, at the very least, the identity of the fundraiser has been authenticated first. My son uses RealMe to prove his identity online. Perhaps a RealMe ID should be made compulsory to discourage fraud. What do you think?