On Saturday I blogged on Followers in Need : The Children in Need Twitter Scam
Around that time questions were being asked of another similar Twitter Account: @FollowMeRecord
Like @FollowersInNeed they were pledging a 50p donation to Children in Need for every follower. Their Bio stated that this was with the help from their sponsors all over Yorkshire. No more detail was given and the web link was to the official BBC Children in Need website.
However, unlike @FollowersInNeed they responded to questioning by creating a blog with a post explaining the background and how the money was being raised. Apparently "@FollowMeRecord was set up initially by three work colleagues sat at the pub trying to brainstorm ideas on how to raise money for the charity Children in Need. Robert Whitmarsh, Harry Gill and Sarah Kutchins".
Robert, Harry and Sarah canvassed several local businesses and individuals asking each what the maximum they would be willing to donate. Totting up the totals they had a "Potential" £7300. In their blog they point out that a few people had asked, "Why not just donate the £7300 and be done with it?" Harry explained this as follows: "If you were doing a sponsored silence, say £1 an hour, you would go to individuals asking what they would be willing to sponsor you for and on having completed the task go and collect the funds. The same concept applies here". Harry does, however, admit that the error on their part was not mentioning that they had a target cap to reach of just under 15,000 (£7300) followers and therefore implying that there were unlimited funds available was a "big mistake" and he holds his hands up for it.
Harry says that originally their list of sponsors were listed on the background image of their Twitter page but they were asked to remove/alter it by one of the donors, and ever since the Pudsey Bear image has been there. This seemed a little odd - why would they take all donors down as a result of a request by one and why would a donor wish to be removed in any event. However, as a result of the questioning on Twitter they put up a refreshed list of their sponsors on their Twitter background page (I assume minus the donor who originally wished to be removed).
The donors are listed as: J & J Decorating Services, Eden Developments Ltd, Premah Plumbing & Tiling, MPM Plumber Merchants, Lecafeshop.co.uk, Northgate Hire Ltd, Fast Response Plumbing, Blue Moon Trading Co, Electrotown.co.uk, Morycon Grocers, Talstine Caterers and Barrocloughs Waste Management.
It was all starting to look a lot different from @FollowersInNeed. There was a list of donors and a cap on the total donation that would be made by them. It looked like a legitimate account. Although as Harry acknowledged "it was a good idea but maybe lacking execution".
@DaveGorman (like me) thought they were legitimate.
However, people were still questioning @FollowMeRecord and it was beginning to get to them. Their last tweet said "Honestly had enough from some of you guys. I'll tweet again Fri @ 10pm then update u guys and close this account. find some1 else 2 'bother'". I thought this a pity and wondered if they had simply suffered unduly as a result of the backlash following on from the scam by @FolllowersInNeed.
4 hours following 10pm on Friday and @FollowMeRecord still has not updated us. Followers stand at 8,865 so that is £4,432.50 going to Children in Need from their donors. Or is it? @CelebFakeOuts reveled in a TwitLonger that:-
"Those of you who have been following for a while will know that on Monday i tackled on a few issues i wasn't happy with, to which i received a mixed response. In one of my tweets i mentioned as being one of their supposed sponsors. The lovely Patrick who owns the company contacted me to ask if there was a problem. We spoke in private and it became clear his company name was being used as a sponsor without his agreement or knowledge. I contacted #childreninneed on Tuesday morning who confirmed that this account was already under investigation so we have left it until today to ask why they have done this. They are getting lots of #FollowFridays now by genuine people who don't know they have lied about at least one their sponsors. If you believe this is wrong, please help us and #childreninneed by retweeting. Thank you so much, C"
Patrick of @LeCafeShop has also tweeted about the situation.
Perhaps Harry from @FollowMeRecord will update his blog or comment on this blog as to what the position is with regard to their sponsors and in particular Lecafeshop.co.uk.
I also picked up tonight that a scam account @03457332233 (which is the Children In Need telephone number) had been tweeting that they would donate 5p per follower to Children in Need and would make that in effect 50p per follower if a certain tweet was re-tweeted 100 times.
Pressure from @ACloakedFigure resulted in the scammer abandoning the account and (as @JackofKent did with @FollowersInNeed) @ACloakedFigure snapped the account up to prevent it being used for further scamming. It, like @FollowersInNeed, now points to the official BBC Children in Need website.
These scammers detract from the genuine accounts and actual fundraising efforts. Even @ChildrenInNeed is an unofficial Twitter account which has existed since 2008 although it has not tweeted this year. However, at least they make it clear that they are an unofficial site and do not appear to have attempted a scam of any kind. The official Children In Need site is @pudseybear. Perhaps best to just follow that one and simply ignore the rest. You can donate at www.bbc.co.uk/pudsey
£18,098,199 had been raised as at 2am on Saturday morning.
UPDATE - 20 November 2010 - 23:30
It is now more than 24 hours after the 10pm deadline by which @FollowMeRecord set themselves to update us and there has not been as much as a tweet from them.
At 10.20pm last night @Cap_Howdy tweeted "Well it's 20 past 10 so where's the update? We want to know how we all did".
At 1.12pm this afternoon @aljharrison tweeted "Looking forward to an update. I think you owe £4269 or even the full £7300 you mentioned?"