The request is unlike any other request received at BBB, “I’m out of work, but I need money, so that’s why I’m making this plea to you.”
BBB sees anywhere from 10-15 scams daily, but this plea went beyond a scam. The cry for help came from a website called “experience project.” Founded by a graduate of Stanford University, it was developed as a site where people would post their life experiences. Armen Berjikly, founder, said it was inspired by a friend’s diagnosis with the debilitating disease MS. No one seemed to relate to what he felt or imagined he was going through.
“It gave voice to a group of people know to suffer in silence, and the opportunity to be among new friends, those who truly understood each other’s challenges,” he posted on the Experience Project
Now considered the world’s largest living collection of shared experiences and passion-based networking. Millions have shared their personal and intimate feelings. Members claim the entire regurgitation allows people to grow, learn, educate and support one another.
The site was launched in 2007 and now has 24 experience categories, providing an online social conversation destination where people can connect with others who “really get it.”
Now that said, the plea was posted under the “sendmemoney.com” where there were several requests for money … everything from “help with utility bills” to “I’m getting kicked out of the house.”
The site is self monitored and scam reports are generated, posts are then tagged.
That said, if you’re giving to an individual person or charity, consider the following:
▪ Research the Charity in Advance
. Before contributing, visit www.give.org
to view a detailed report on the organization.
▪ Avoid Giving Cash. Cash donations are difficult to track, making it harder for consumers to get tax deductions and easier for scammers to go unnoticed. It is best to use a credit or debit card that offers consumers protection for when a problem arises. If you must write a check, make it out to the name of the charitable organization, not to the person collecting the donation.
▪ Be Wary of Imitations. Keep an eye out for fake charities that imitate the name and style of well-known organizations to potentially steal personal information such as credit card numbers.
▪ Confirm Text Code Numbers. If you plan to give by text message, confirm the text code number directly with the charity. Also, keep in mind that text message donations are typically not immediate. Depending on your cell phone provider, the donation may not show up on your bill for 30 to 90 days.
▪ Watch Out for High Pressure-Solicitations. Do not give in to excessive pressure for an immediate donation. Be wary of appeals that are long on emotion but short on describing what the charity will actually do to meet their organizational goals.
▪ Protect your Personal Information. Never give your credit card number or other personal information in response to an unexpected telephone call, e-mail or personal message on your social media profile from someone who is soliciting a donation.
Find out about Tax Deductibility in Advance. For your donation to be tax-deductible, the charity must be tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Visit IRS Publication 78 on www.irs.gov
for a current list of all organizations eligible to receive contributions that are deductible as charitable gifts.