Follow me Record : Another Children in Need Twitter Scam?

by admin 19. November 2010 22:23

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 #cin £4269 or even the full £7300 you mentioned?"

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Children in Need

Comments

11/20/2010 4:54:39 PM #

Gavin Ward

Great detective work Brian. My instinct tells me it's a fake account. The supposed LeCafe sponsorship just simply does not make any sense, plus LeCafe remains on the background of the account despite their desire not to be affiliated with the account. It seems to me that there may be some sort of indirect passing off issues because of that, potential defamation and even fraud.

The last tweet on the account as of 15 November 2010 is "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'", which smacks of a pre-pubescent 15 year old male.

The hope, however, remains that the account is genuine and we'll see an update tweet saying that the 4k has been so donated.

One final thought - why would people create such accounts if they were indeed scammers? Followers on Twitter obviously have a value - there are companies that will give you 10,000 followers for several hundred pounds sterling. The value mainly emanates from the ability to advertise a product or service to a larger following. So what is this account advertising? At the moment, the URL link remains the Children in Need page on the BBC website. BUT that can change within seconds, as could the account name as could the background. So there is, therefore, also value in selling that following onto another company.

WardblawG's own tips on setting up similar account in the future:

1. Given that you cannot change your username on Twitter DO NOT name it something generic like "FollowMeRecord" - include the name of the cause;

2. Show your genuine sponsors on your background;

3. Provide a standalone blog or something similar explaining in more detail your proposition so you don't get hundreds of tweeps flaming you;

4. After you've donated the money, update your followers and prove that you've donated it.

Best wishes,
Gavin Ward
http://wardblawg.com

Gavin Ward United Kingdom

11/20/2010 11:26:15 PM #

Brian Inkster

Thanks Gavin.

24 hours have now elapsed with no comment from @FollowMeRecord despite the fact that they had promised an update at 10pm last night - so looking highly likely that they are not genuine.

Good sensible advice as to how charity accounts should be managed. The absence of these factors will simply call into question whether an account is genuine.

I await Harry's next tweet, blog or comment with interest.

Regards

Brian

Brian Inkster United Kingdom

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This blog follows Brian Inkster & Nicola Walls as they prepare, fundraise, travel and build houses for Habitat for Humanity as part of the Argentina Global Village Challenge 2009. inkstersgive.com is the Corporate Social Responsibility website of Inksters Solicitors with the aim in 2009 of raising awareness of and money for Habitat for Humanity.

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