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[January 26, 2014]
Internet Can Be Tool For Deception [News - Item, The (PA)]
(News - Item, The (PA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Major charities are doing it. So are politicians. And the Average Joe can do it, too.
Fundraising through the Internet has exploded in popularity, leading to exceptional success that, in some cases, is credited with saving lives.
But this 21st century phenomenon isn't absent an age-old element: deception.
The family of Melissa Lee "Missy" Pangburn, the 13-year-old Shamokin girl who died in a fire Dec. 10, claims a Coal Township woman kept as much as $700 she solicited through her gofundme.com "crowdsourcing" site for personal use instead of giving it to the family.
A Facebook post, made the very day of the fire, asked, "please donate to the family that have lost their daughter for funeral expenses and other expenses. RIP MISSY." It included a link to the gofundme.com site.
From what Pangburn's family and The News-Item can determine, Victoria Fortune cannot adequately explain what happened to the money. The disappearance of her gofundme page on Wednesday, the day Missy's mother contacted her, adds to the suspicion.
Should the case rise to the criminal level, prosecution could be tricky. The victims did live in Shamokin, but have moved back to New Jersey since the fire. Fortune lives in Coal Township, Gofundme is based in San Diego and the Internet, well, that's global.
As Shamokin Patrolman Raymond Siko II said, "We're all in limbo." Fortune should see to it that the money that was contributed is either given to the Pangburn family or returned to the donors. There is no other option.
Those who come to the aid of their fellow human beings almost always do so for the right reasons, but use of the Internet hasn't changed some people's need to exploit the misfortune of others for their own gain.
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