Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR: With the law enforcement authorities busy in the Covid management, unscrupulous elements in large numbers have started a fresh business of illegal crowdfunding in Kashmir. Ostensibly to support the economically depressed families, many of such individuals manage to get contributions in their own bank accounts and then swindle the collections either fully or partly.A number of the conscience keepers have alerted the Police and Crime Branch about the suspicious characters looting the gullible people openly through Facebook but neither of the organisations has taken cognizance.In one of such cases brought to the notice of Deputy Commissioner of Srinagar, Aijaz Assad, an enquiry is underway. Additional Deputy Commissioner Khursheed Ahmad is investigating how some unknown person of Srinagar carried pictures of a family from Mehmoodabad Dooru, Anantnag, on a Facebook page seeking monetary contributions for the family in a bank account and then vanished with the collections.According to some knowledgeable persons an amount of Rs 25 lakh to Rs 27 lakh was donated to the bank account given on the Facebook page within two days. Soon it was discovered that the bank account did not belong to the poor family of Dooru. Sources said that at least three identical cases have surfaced in the last 10 days.“The fraudulent beneficiaries post the picture or video of a poor family, add melancholic audio-visuals effects to it and the narrator makes passionate appeals to the common people to donate money to the same family in the holy month of Ramadan. Quite a large number of the gullible people take it as genuine and transfer donations to the same account, without knowing that the phone number and the bank account belong to a different person. In some cases, they contact the particular family and share a small amount of money with them on the condition that they would claim to be satisfied and in possession of the entire amount. In some cases, they fully swindle the money and disappear”, said an official.“Some of them collect Rs 30 lakh and share Rs 5 lakh with a family. The family states that it was satisfied and it had no complaint against the person having collected the money through Facebook page. It’s a completely fraudulent process of crowdfunding with no control or supervision of the law enforcement authorities”, said the officer, demanding a regular investigation by the Crime Branch into all such contributions collected by different individuals and so-called NGOs through Facebook.
Sometime back a news portal with no authorisation from the Government made an appeal for donations for a poor girl of Ganderbal. An amount of Rs 1.25 crore was reportedly collected in the bank account given by the news portal. Later, it surfaced that the bank account belonged to the operator of the news portal. District authorities in Ganderbal summoned the news portal operator for questioning.Thereafter, nobody knew whether the officials reconciled the matter with the news portal operator and handed over the full amount of Rs 1.25 crore to the poor girl.“It is all deceitful. If somebody comes forward with a philanthropic purpose and good intention, why shouldn’t he publish the phone number and the bank account of the person or the family for whom he seeks support?”, asked a senior advocate at Jammu and Kashmir High Court, adding, “Any such crowdfunding without accountability and transparency is illegal and a crime punishable by law”.
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