*As a Christian, I believe in cheerful giving, but I also believe that God blessed us with sound minds to be used in all things, including the affairs of our wallets.

I held my tongue on this particular topic for the sake of not sounding like a new generation Scrooge, but after the recent slate of cases, I think it’s time we have a Paypal Pow Wow.

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Could someone explain the naivety people have displayed in donating to pop-up causes that become overnight news sensations? A moral crime is committed against the star of the headline and people blindly rush to the defense of the “victim” by creating an endowment through one of several online fundraising sites. Donations in the thousands come pouring in for stories that are usually underdeveloped in details, only to leave its supporters feeling bamboozled when the truth comes out. It’s called being “Catfished” and here are three recent examples to make you think twice before being so generous.

Fundraising Fail #1: Dayna Morales
The 22 year-old New Jersey waitress duped the media into believing that a couple stiffed her on the tip because she was gay. Posting a photo of a gratuity-free receipt and a handwritten message about disagreeing with her lifestyle, supporters donated over $3,000 for her pain and suffering at the hands of the accused homophobic duo. Turns out that very couple produced their own copy of the same receipt showing a healthy tip was given, sans the P.S. Not only that, turns out Ms. Morales, a former Marine, had previously been dishonorably discharged for lying and once lied that she had terminal cancer.

Fundraising Fail #2: Shanesha Taylor
My heart was truly conflicted when this story initially broke. Ms. Taylor, a homeless mother of three left her two youngest children in a hot vehicle with the windows cracked in a desperate attempt to interview for a job that could provide for her family. Her kids were rescued by police, while she was arrested for her neglectful choice, resulting in all of her children being removed from the home. Well looky, looky who actually had part-time employment and a home address after all. Too late…she’s now over $100,000 richer thanks to the kindness of internet strangers caught up by her sob story.

Fundraising Fail #3: Justin Harris
There are no words for this story. I actually pray something is unveiled to make this hideous murder make sense. I can’t even recount the details without going numb, so click here if you aren’t up to speed on this heinous case out of Atlanta. Over 11,000 supporters donated $20,000 to his defense fund prior to the latest developments being released. Out of all of the catfish stories, one would want to believe this was for a legitimate cause. Alas, the fundraiser has been closed because we have all been duped in the worst possible way.

All in all, it’s your money. Depart with it how you wish. Just know that thieves are on the prowl, and are becoming more and more savvy when it comes to playing off of your emotions. Stay tuned for the details first. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

tanya tatum

Tanya Tatum

Tanya Tatum is the outstpoken host of “The Tatum Talks,” a live Blog Talk Radio show focusing on African-American interests. Check out her best episodes at www.blogtalkradio.com/thetatumtalks. You can also join her for a daily discussion on Facebook and follow her @TheTatumTalks on Twitter.