E-Panhandling Sites Gathering Steam in the World

Begging money online becomes profitable business

There are a lot of beggars on the Internet, as anywhere else. They are called cyber-beggars, while their activities are called electronic panhandling. These things are not really frequent to happen on the Russian part of the Internet, the so-called Runet, although cyber-beggars in the USA collect tens of thousands of dollars.

Have you ever met a beggar on the Internet? It does not go about spammers here, but about those people, who launch their own sites to ask visitors to donate some money for them. Such a phenomenon is very rare in Russia now. A webpage owner might ask to borrow some money, and that is basically all. Begging for money online in America has already become a business. Yahoo! portal has a category entitled E-Panhandling. There are dozens of them there. CyberBeg portal contains about two hundred of them. The titles of cyber-begging sites presumably start with such words as save, rescue, help, or give, send, pay, lend. Cyber-beggars do not ask money to buy a piece of bread, they need money for goods and services. A lot of them need to pay their debts. They beg to clear a credit card debt, to make a breast enlargement operation, to pay for medical care or education, to help a woman to divorce her husband, to make a movie or an album. Beggars ask for various sums of money: from several cents to a million dollars. Most likely, they ask to send them as much money as you can via the PayPal system.

Wired magazine wrote that the first person to launch a cyber-begging site was a woman named Karyn Bosnak. Her website was called Save Karyn. It is possible to cast doubts on her championship, although her success is obvious. She had a credit card debt of over 20 thousand on June 23, 2002. Karyn Bosnak decided the following for herself: all I need is to get one dollar from 20 thousand people, or two dollars from ten thousand people, or five dollars from four thousand people. As a result, people transferred thirteen thousand dollars to the woman, she added some of her money and paid her debt on November 10th, 2002. As you can see, it took her less than six months to do away with her problem. Karyn has been saved. Now she patronizes other beggars, claiming copyright for her idea.

New York Times confirms that the e-panhandling epidemic was launched together with Save Karyn website. Therefore, the date of June 23, 2002 can be considered the cyber-begging birthday. If a webmaster of a begging site provides his or her full name, as well as the detailed description of a trouble, this site will enjoy great popularity amid benefactors. It goes without saying that if a benefactor’s problem has something in common with the one of a cyber-beggar, a webpage will be even more popular.

Kimberly Smith, the mother of five children, was inspired with Karyn Bosnak’s success. She decided to launch Save Kimberly website. She asks visitors a dollar or two for settling her debt – over 25 thousand dollars – and for buying a house for her family. Despite the fact that there were a lot of touchy stories and children’s photographs on the website, Kimberly Smith has not had an opportunity to enjoy her success yet. However, Michel Huang managed to obtain $3300 (with the help of cyber-begging) for a breast enlargement operation. As she said, a so-called donor, who wished to remain anonymous, gave her $1200. Another popular e-panhandling site HelpMeLeaveMyHusband, which was launched by someone named Penny in August of 2002, brings the profit of $75 per week. Two thousand dollars have already been collected, while twelve thousand are needed. Canadian woman Jennifer Glasser suffers from Lyme disease. She tries to collect money with the help of her site Help Jennifer. She needs to pay the debt to her mother ($32 thousand), to undergo the fourth stage of her medical treatment ($64 thousand). To crown it all, she needs $450 of monthly spending. Save Jennifer site was opened in August of 2002. For the time being, Jennifer has collected about $5.5 thousand ($3.5 thousand were donated by one person). Kellie Cudaback’s success with her site Save Kellie is very humble – five dollars (her husband left her the debt of $20 thousand).

All those sites claim to be true and serious. By the way, cyber-beggars donate money to each other sometimes. This is something like a mutually beneficial promotion. Of course, there are people, who wish to promote and advertise e-panhandling sites. Steve Donohue, for instance, created the webpage called SaveMeSites. This page is meant to help e-panhandling sites to have better banner exchange systems, or to obtain better search engine indexes. It goes without saying that there are lots of jokers among cyber-beggars. You may find a man, who asks people to make him richer than Bill Gates. Someone else begs for money to buy a new guitar, or a Hummer jeep ($120 thousand) and so on. There are swindlers too, for everyone knows that real beggars often work for criminal groups. The same happens online – the Internet is the mirror of the society, although we will not dwell upon this subject here.

The people used to donate their funds to salvation armies, Greenpeace activists, and other charitable organizations. Now those people are ready to give away their money to someone that they have never seen before. Experts believe that cyber-beggars get more and more talented every day, making their websites more technical, making their stories more touchy. On the whole, the e-panhandling business prospers and flourishes before your very eyes. Cyber-beggars evoke compassion and sympathy with professional sincerity, so to speak. Of course, the ground for online beggars is a lot more fruitful in rich America at the moment. Who knows, maybe there will be e-panhandling sites on the Russian part of the Internet as well. An expensive operation for a little kid might be a very good start.



Translated by Dmitry Sudakov