Rob Buckingham's Blog

Go Fraud Me

A couple of weeks ago, Melbourne was shocked over an attack by Hassan Khalif Shire Ali during what has become known as the Bourke Street terror attack.  While the police tried to detain Ali, a homeless man, Michael Rogers, rammed a shopping trolley into him in a bid to bring him down.  Rogers became a hero now known as the “Trolley Man,” and a GoFundMe page was started that raised $145,000 in less than two weeks.

Generosity at a Cost

While on one hand, this fund-raising initiative is inspiring, on the other it is concerning.  It’s easy to generate generosity by touching the emotions.  Michael Rogers is a homeless hero, who wouldn’t want to support him?  So, let’s give money.  It turns out that the police would rather that Rogers hadn’t got involved as he could have made a bad situation worse.  Also, Rogers already has a Housing Commission flat, which he chooses not to live in.  On top of that, “He has a long criminal record including five years in prison for aggravated burglary. He is a drug user… what they’ve done now is start up this GoFundMe page … to use as he chooses.”  [1]

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against helping Michael Rogers, or any other person who is homeless, from a criminal background, a drug addict, a person living with a mental illness, or any combination of these challenges.  What I am saying is we need to be wise in what we give to and not to be simply led by our emotions.

So rife is the conning of well-meaning people that there is now a website called gofraudme which details dozens of frauds on GoFundMe as well as how to recognise and report a scam.

Consider the recent appeals for drought-affected farmers in Australia as an example of unwise giving.  Some well-meaning people were helping individual families, but that was creating resentment amongst the families that weren’t being helped.  Some organisations were trucking food into farming towns, but that was affecting local businesses because people were buying less from them.  And so, in their generosity people were creating additional problems and distress in those who were already suffering.

Be Wise & Generous Hearted

Jesus taught his followers to “be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.” [2]  Shrewd = wise, sharp, smart, perceptive.  I believe God wants people to be generous but, in our generosity, we shouldn’t be gullible.  When presented with a “need” spend time checking it out. Ask questions, do your research, and make sure you give sensibly rather than emotionally, with knowledge and understanding of the bigger picture. And wherever possible work through people you know or through reputable charities and churches.

 

[1] https://www.fiveaa.com.au/shows/leon-byner/The-Massive-GoFundMe-For-Melbourne-s-Trolley-Man-Might-Not-Be-A-Great-Idea-Says-Peter-Ford

[2] Matthew 10:16

 


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