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Paper: Online collection scam took advantage of grieving family

A family in the western coastal city of Pori lost their newborn child recently in a tragic series of events widely reported in the Finnish press. The family also incurred over 50,000 euros in debts during the ordeal. Moved by their plight, several private parties posted bank account numbers on various online forums in an effort to start a collection for the grieving family. Unfortunately, a local newspaper has revealed that at least one of the accounts has proven to be a clear incidence of scamming.

Satasen seteleitä.
Image: Jyrki Lyytikkä / Yle

The tragic and convoluted fate of a baby named Säde tugged at the heartstrings of the Finnish nation this week, and several news outlets, including Iltalehti covered the details of the incident. Säde’s mother openly told of her family’s economic woes in the media, as she ran up tens of thousands of euros in expenses after going into premature labour while on holiday in Turkey.

People by the thousands were moved by the story and many were eager to contribute some money to the family to lighten their load. In the interests of expediency, most of the first appeals for money circumvented rules in Finland that require the authorities to approve of and grant a permit for money-raising activities. Unfortunately, this unsanctioned move quickly showed its vulnerability.

False account number

Jenni Inkinen, Säde’s mother, told the local newspaper Satakunnan Kansa that someone had posted an unknown bank account number in the comment section of the Iltalehti online edition in an attempt to scam money and cash in on the family’s misfortune. It is still not clear if even more scammers have tried to take advantage of the situation.

Finnish Police remind readers that private individuals cannot lawfully request that people donate money to a stranger’s account on the Internet. Despite pushback with regard to its strict enforcement, Finland’s Money Collection Act was sanctioned to prevent dishonest activity and ensure that any collected money ends up in the right hands.

Many legitimate collections and auctions have been founded online already and nothing stops organisations from applying for a permit to help raise funds for the Inkinen family, say the authorities.

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