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London Riots: Beware of donation site for Ashraf Haziq – looks like an internet mugging to me

The Malaysian student, Ashraf Haziq, who was mugged and robbed on video, is now recovering in a hospital with a broken jaw.  One of the robbers has possibly been identified, according to Channel 4 News out of the UK.

Out of this internet viral video is possibly another form of robbery.  A site called “Something Nice for Ashraf” has been created asking for donations and provides a direct link to PayPal.  No other information provided.

Smells fishy to me.  According to a comment I received from a Malaysian citizen, the Malaysian government will fully compensate him for his full expenses.  I clicked on the donation link simply to check it out, which does go into PayPal, but no where does it show who is receiving these donations.  Could be anybody.  And where is the proof that even one penny goes to Ashraf?  I checked out the twitter name on the site, @jamiecowen, and there is little to no information there, either.  An avatar with a “Save the Children” emblem in it… but anyone can create and upload that for their avatar.  A few tweets… nothing more.  An legitimate organization asking for donations for a cause always provides a LOT more information and proof than this donation site does.

If Malaysia is going to reimburse, then why is this person accepting donations for Ashraf?

Do not get me wrong… I feel horrible about what happened to Ashraf.  But that does not automatically make this site legit only because I – or we – want it to be.  This whole donation setup sounds like a scam to me.  If so, this is just as bad as those people are who robbed him out of his rucksack as he stood their bleeding.

4 Comments »

  1. I agree with the writer, 100%. I’m Malaysian. I’ve never heard of Jamie Cowen. He’s not affliated with the Malaysian Embassy or Kaplan University (where Ashraf is studying), nor is Jamie anyway connected to the family or friends or any Malaysian organisation. To boot, Jamie has collected £20,000. We would like to know how and when is Jamie is going to give this money to Ashraf?

    • What’s strange is now that donation site is closed. Looks like “take the money and run.” I’ve never heard of any charitable organization closing for donations so quickly. You can still donate for Haiti via the Red Cross, for example. And who is to say they didn’t get £500,000 but only quoting the 20K. Now there are several other sites up for other people and business owners whose pictures became hot on the internet, like Reeves furniture store. And they all have scheduled “close down” dates. Legitimate charitable organizations rely upon surviving with a percentage of the donations to cover their costs – I would believe they would leave the line of donation open for as long as possible. It is so easy to create a site which looks as though you have all the facts (easy to find on the internet). Charities must have a Charity Number – which this one for Ashraf does not list one. Nor many of the new ones which have popped up. Do Something Nice for Ashraf listed a token link to JustGiving.com (I wonder why they’re not a .org domain, though), which Just Giving does have a charity number – but I think that was for appearance only. Scammers make every attempt to add as much to their sites, so I really think many of these are scams. I could very well be wrong, but here is a link to check out charities in the UK: http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk/

  2. I have only just got around to reading this post. Apologies for not responding sooner.

    I am @jamiecowen and I led the somethingniceforashraf campaign. It was not a scam but I understand why you were suspicious. It would have been very easy for me to do a runner with the money but I can reassure you that I never had any intention of doing so. The money was collected through PayPal (into my personal bank account) and also through a justgiving page set up by a partner Mad4Africa – who are a registered with the Charities Commission. The full details of the money that transacted through my PayPal account have been shared with Mad4Africa and are to its satisfaction. I am happy to share the same with anyone who wants to see them. I have full paperwork verifying the transfer of cash to Ashraf, which took place at the Malaysian Embassy. The reason why the donation page was closed down early was because I felt that enough money had been raised and that too much money could have caused additional problems for Ashraf (he’s only twenty and the campaign risked raising hundreds of thousands of pounds) and also there were other causes that needed support at that time (which my site redirected people to).

    Fortunately for this campaign and many other community-minded initiatives that sprang up in the wake of the riots, “trusting your neighbour” won out over cynicism and it is exactly that kind of confidence in each other that we need to embrace as we look to build stronger communities in areas affected by the recent troubles and, indeed, across the UK.

    I just wanted to set the record straight.

    All the best

    Jamie Cowen

    • Thank you, Jamie, for following up. Please do understand that I only post my opinions. Thousands of scammers set up donations in the wake of horrible events, for example, when the earthquake hit Haiti. When a donation site comes up without any charity number, then red flags start flying. And in your defense, there are many charities who are completely legit but they barely meet the minimum requirements to function as a charity. For example, one local charity here only donates the bottom-line amount they are required to by law in order to function as a charity – which I am told is somewhere between 3-5%. I cannot substantiate this number, though. I have my allotted charities which I donate regularly to only because I know them and volunteer my time and services to them. I understand in order to function, part of the donations are used to cover the overhead so they may remain functioning. Perfectly understandable and acceptable. It may be different in the UK, but here state-side, there are charities which abuse this privilege and mislead the public. I wish you all well, and hope that everyone who was affected by these riots are recovering in a most efficient manner.

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