Court takes short shrift with fraudulent donation seeking
China Daily

In April, last year, the help seeker had asked for donations on online crowd-funding platform Shuidichou to pay for his seriously ill son's medical fees. The man claimed his family had run out of money and was more than 200,000 yuan ($28,585) in debt due to the cost of his son's medical treatment, and the boy still needed about 400,000 yuan for future treatment.

File photo: IC

The man received 153,136 yuan in donations via the platform. But on being informed that he had falsified his economic situation, Shuidichou sent a letter from its lawyer requiring him to fully refund the donations. When he failed to do so, Shuidichou took him to court to recover the money.

Beijing Chaoyang District People's Court ruled that the help seeker had concealed property under his name and other social assistance he received, and ordered him to fully refund the donations he had received plus interest.

This case is of great significance to regulate online help seeking. As a newly emerging charity channel, online platforms such as Shuidichou can help people suffering from serious diseases get donations to help pay for medical fees that they would otherwise be unable to afford. The services are a convenient and efficient way to help those families in need.

But in recent years, there have been several scandals about help seekers misusing the platforms by falsifying their financial circumstances to defraud those wanting to help others, which has dented public trust in online donating.

This case serves as a warning to fraudulent help seekers that their false claims violate the crowd-funding donation agreements and they will face legal sanctions for their wrongdoing.

After the trial, the court also sent a legal suggestion to the Ministry of Civil Affairs suggesting it should accelerate legislation to better regulate online donation seeking. This along with an effective supervision mechanism would better ensure that online donations are used for their intended purposes.