It’s one of the world’s oldest scams, one of the most lucrative and perhaps the most damaging: people preying on the best instincts of human beings to take their money for personal gain. The internet has made it easier to do than ever, and the con is flourishing. I don’t often write about the incidents when they arise, in part because there’s nothing to argue about: everybody agrees that it’s not just unethical conduct, but bordering on evil. Fake charities are worse than scams, however, because they actively make people less kind, generous and caring for their own protection. Every fake charity exposed makes it harder for real charities to help people who genuinely need it. Like a friend of mine who never helped a homeless person again after seeing a beggar whom he had just given 20 bucks on a New York City street briefly get out of his battered wheel chair and nimbly run over to get a cigarette from a compatriot, those who stop trusting pleas for help seldom start trusting again. The fakes make us less kind and generous, and that makes society worse for everyone.
Fake charities large and small have been much in the news lately, so a little catch-up is warranted. Continue reading