When you see a homeless guy on the street begging, you might be inclined to donate (personally, I’m not). From the looks of him, you can tell if he needs the money or not; if he wears high-priced Nikes and a Abercrombie&Fitch sweatshirt, you probably won’t donate.
Lately we see lots of internet beggars. Begging is easy on the internet. You can be anonymous. You still have to make up some lie (like “will work for food”, or “viet vet has cancer”), but you can use text and pretty graphics. Fancy it up, it’s still begging. These guys, hidden behind their internet sob-story, do wear fancy sweatshirts and brand name shoes.
Is begging on the internet any different than spam? It’s somewhat socially acceptable to help a kid pay for college, right? Or help a young couple with HIV? Or bail out a kid who got in over his head in real estate? There is even a how-to-site to help you setup shop on your local internet offramp.
When you give people money- whether it is on the street or on the net – you are encouraging thousands like them to do it too. Do we want the internet just filled with “give me money” pages? Don’t donate. They are scams.