Last week I received an email from a woman whose name seemed vaguely familiar.
It was actually a reply to my newsletter.
The sender claimed to read my blog often and then told a story about unexpected marital problems, unpaid bills and the threat of the turn off of electricity if she didn’t get a payment made. The sender asked for two things:
That I send a donation, and, that I put a link to her fundraising page in my next newsletter.
I’ve been broke and the story sounded real to me. Without much thought I replied telling her ‘no’ I wouldn’t add a link to my newsletter or site.
I also sent her a small donation.
There probably was an option to send it anonymously through the site she referred me to, but if it’s there I missed it.
I got an email from a couple of people I know asking if I knew the woman and replied that I didn’t.
The next email that came in explained that my name was listed as one of her backers.
I tweeted that I in no way endorsed her fund raising efforts and emailed her asking her to take my name off the site. Which she did.
I’ve gotten a few subsequent emails suggesting the woman has used my name and one other writer’s name in more email solicitations.
I love the net as most of you know, but this is a perfect example of… well, a possible scam that I inadvertently both supported and at least briefly seemed to lend my name to.
The biggest problem of course is that I have no way of verifying the truth of this woman’s story. And even if I did it’s not the sort of thing I’d promote widely. That’s not the purpose of this blog.
The other problem, of course, was my carelessness. I could have looked to see if I could donate anonymously and been sure my name wouldn’t be misused – or at least made it less likely.
So if you got an email claiming I endorsed any individual’s plea for financial aid, I apologize.
I guess I’m chuckling a bit too. I truly hadn’t realized my name carried that sort of influence.
How do you decide to give to?