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Fake fundraiser for fire victim exposed: Donors issued a warning

3AW Mornings

A fundraising page in the name of a veteran firefighter killed in the Victorian bushfires has been exposed as a fake.

The daughter of Bill Slade, 60, has told The Age a Donorbox page that claims to be set up in his honour is actually a scam, labelling the situation “disgusting”.

Donorbox has since taken the page down, after nearly $150 was raised.

That story emerged as donors were urged on 3AW to take care to ensure they are not tricked into giving to scam fundraisers.

Generous people from across the world have given to the countless bushfire fundraisers which have popped up in recent months.

A staggering $28 million has been given to 6000 bushfire fundraisers through the GoFundMe website since November.

But the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has had 250 reports of fire-related scams, and has removed numerous fake fundraising pages from crowdfunding websites.

Commissioner of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, Gary Johns, urged people not to give to fundraisers which aren’t run by registered charities.

“If you’re using an online platform for someone who says they’re in need then you’ve got no assurance whatsoever,” he told 3AW’s Heidi Murphy.

On the other hand, registered charities offer guarantees on where their funds go, and have the established framework in place to make sure money gets to those who need it.

“You know who they are, you know how to contact them, you can look at their documents later on to see where the money is going,” Mr Johns said.

Mr Johns said criticism of official charities for spending on administrative fees is “misplaced”.

“We actually advise charities to administer the money well so you can get it to those in need,” he said.

“Handing out money is actually quite difficult. You have to be able to identify needs, you have to get the money to the right people. It’s quite a skill, and it’s a skill that our charities, by and large, are very good at.”

Before making a donation, donors are urged to check the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission website to see if the organisation they are giving to is a registered charity.

The National Bushfire Recovery Agency has also compiled a list of verified charitable organisations which have established bushfire relief funds, which is available here.

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Image: Marianne Purdie

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