Crowdfunding merits scrutiny

A father in Sichuan Province carried his 4-year-old daughter on a street while holding a sign, saying that he would give his daughter to whoever offered money to save his sick son.

A father in Sichuan Province carried his 4-year-old daughter on a street while holding a sign, saying that he would give his daughter to whoever offered money to save his sick son, the Beijing Youth Daily recently reported.

 It was confirmed that the son was diagnosed with leukemia. The father’s attempt to trade off the daughter enraged netizens. Some suspected it as a scam. Others blasted it as blatant gender discrimination.

The family raised about 90,000 yuan (US$13,152) from various crowdfunding platforms but failed to withdraw 40,000 yuan due to reports from netizens. The children’s mother revealed that “giv­ing away the daughter” was just a stunt to draw public attention. The family is among an increasing number of people who resort to online crowdfunding due to their financial plight.

Many crowdfunding platforms operate on a simple principle: The initiator sets the fundraising target, justifies the pleas for alms and uploads certain information, such as photocopies of ID card, medical reports and photos of patients. After being approved by the platform, the crowdfunding begins.

The lack of stringency has led some to believe that as long as they tell a good story, they are likely to be favored by donors. There were cases where people spiced up their stories to make them heartbreaking enough to resonate with donors. Not long ago, a post on qschou.com, a crowdfunding platform, went viral. It claimed that a 37-year-old father in Wuhan, Hubei Province, was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and his debt-ridden family could not finance his treatment anymore.

His optimism, evident from his WeChat posts, so touched readers that the 300,000-yuan target was soon reached. In a dramatic turn of events, he was later suspected of having deep pockets, with a company and several properties registered under his name.

Similar incidents abound. They expose the loopholes in the current verification process of crowdfunding platforms. To not betray the goodwill of donors, the platforms ought to toughen scrutiny and keep track of the funds to see if they are spent as per the stated aims of the initiators.

And the crowdfunding platforms are by no means no-man’s land. Authorities need to step in and pass laws and regulations to plug loopholes.


Special Reports
Top