Online panhandling - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Online panhandling

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

Be it the Red Cross or American Cancer Society, sites asking for online donations are commonplace. Also common place are sites where the purpose is purely self-serving.

Social media expert Cristin Grogan likened it to online panhandling, where websites and elaborate sob stories have replaced the traditional street corner and a cup.

"And for really frivolous seeming things like paying off credit card debt and not for any medical expenses or anything like that but because they've over-spent or they've over-shopped," Grogan said.

Case in point: a same-sex couple in London engaged to be married and asking for money to help fly one groom's parents to their wedding from South Africa. Not so bad until you realize they are having not one but four wedding-related events across the globe with apparently no money left for parental airfare.

Helpmeleavemyhusband.com is exactly that: a woman looking for donations to pay for her divorce.

Helpoutbrian.com was started by Brian who racked up credit card and student loan debt that he wants the public to help pay off.

Grogan and other industry experts acknowledge that some of these sites claim to have more serious reasons for cyber begging, like alleged medical bills or mortgage help.

Just in case the online panhandler isn't skilled in setting up an online collection cup, there's even a site to help you do that as well.

"It's certainly taking advantage of people," Grogan said. "And I think it really affects the nature of the Internet and the seemingly good nature of the Internet and what it's supposed to serve."

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