Nine months ago, mother of four Elida Cristina, 40, who lives in Rio Grande do Sul, had to leave her city — Rio Grande, in the south of the state — in search of treatment for her youngest, Pedro, 2 years old. At the time, the boy was diagnosed with cancer in three locations: lung, chest and neck. Since then, there have been several surgeries, chemotherapy sessions and, recently, Pedro underwent a bone marrow transplant. “Today, he no longer has any tumors and is recovering very well. Pedro is still a baby, but he is a great warrior. He always has a smile on his face, happy and with a lot of energy. The medical team is monitoring his recovery weekly in consultations and exams. He still needs medication and follow-up and, therefore, we need to stay here in Porto Alegre”, explained the mother.
As Elida is a self-employed saleswoman, she had to stop working. About 300 km from home and with three more children to support, in August of last year, she decided to make an online crowdfunding to collect donations. However, not knowing how to create an account on a website, she accepted help from a stranger. “He is friends with a mother I met at the hospital. We had been together for more than a fortnight in the same room with our children. Talking, we decided to open a crowdfunding for each one, but we didn’t know how to do it. So, she had the idea of asking help for this friend who, according to her, works at a radio station, and I accepted”, she says. “But he said it didn’t work out when it came time to include my data, so he would put his and then change it. I sent him my bank account number for him to change, but he said he couldn’t and guaranteed that as soon as the money in the account, I would make the transfer”, remembers the mother.
Despair and helplessness
A few months later, the kitty was finalized. Elida managed to raise R$ 55 thousand. However, she received less than half the amount: R$22 thousand. “He said he was robbed, they took him hostage, forced him to take a pix, stole his car and cell phone, but told me not to worry, because the bank would return the money, since he had insurance. He said that as soon as had news, he would contact me, but he disappeared”, he recalls. After that, she says she was blocked by him on Whatsapp and Messenger. “I didn’t have any more answers. I don’t want it to happen to other people. It’s sad,” she lamented.
Worried, Elida decided to go to court in an attempt to recover the rest of the money. According to lawyer Lenise Ferreira Schneider, who handles the case, the man was ordered to pay the entire amount – about R$30,000 – to Elida. “Now, the process goes into execution, that is, the payment, in fact. However, it will depend on whether he has assets in his name, since he did not attend the hearings”, explained the lawyer.
“The money we raised would be very important, in every way, during our journey of hospitalizations, surgeries and treatments. But what remained was a feeling of despair and helplessness. So, I decided to inform the authorities, including to try to make this attitude is reprimanded in some way and he does not harm another family again,” he said.
The money that was not passed on to Pedro and Elida is needed today. “It would be used in my son’s daily life. I’m having to spend on two houses: one for my children, who are in Rio Grande, and the rent for Pedro and me here, in the capital. My current income is one monthly minimum wage, which is paid by the father of my children. If it wasn’t for the help of people close to us, we wouldn’t have been able to survive all this time here”, he lamented.
With part of the amount she received from Vakinha, Elida managed to rent an apartment three blocks from the Santo Antônio Hospital, where Pedro is undergoing treatment, and has paid for their food. “We are very grateful for that, it has made it much easier for Pedro to get around for the hospitalizations, consultations and necessary follow-ups. The monthly rent is R$ 1,900, but to stay here, we would need the rest. 3 years. But without that money, I’m already looking for another place, cheaper, but farther from the hospital”, he said.
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“What remains is a feeling of sadness, because so many people were touched with the intention of helping me and my son; they were touched by his story and the battle he is facing. Now, more than half of this money is being used for other purposes, which we don’t know what they are. I want to take the opportunity to warn people who, unfortunately, may go through the same situation. It is necessary to be careful and better informed. I also want to thank all the people who collaborated and helped in the Pedro’s online kitty, because, even being a part of the value, it eased several difficulties during this long journey”, he concluded.
Elida made a new crowdfunding online, this time with her data. To collaborate, click here.
How not to fall for scams
“The internet has facilitated many processes, including creating fundraising campaigns. But precautions must be taken to avoid falling into third-party scams”, warned the website Vakinha.com, one of the largest in the country, to CRESCER. The company, based in Rio Grande do Sul, said that it prioritizes security and has an area on the platform, with illustrative videos, aimed at clarifying users’ doubts, including how to create online crowdfunding.
However, CRESCER asked Vakinha to list some of the best practices to avoid falling for scams on the internet:
– Create online crowdfunding only on consolidated platforms in the market. It is essential that the campaign is on a credible site, so the user can be sure that they will receive the correct amount and will be more successful when sharing about it;
– Register, preferably, your personal data and not those of third parties, especially your bank account. In this way, it is guaranteed that the amount will be correctly deposited in your account;
– Do not disclose your personal data. The ideal is always to protect this information, as campaigns can reach hundreds or thousands of people. Thus, it is possible to prevent malicious people from using your data, such as the pix key, for other purposes.
Vakinha also informed that the platform provides a personalized PIX key for each campaign, which is formed by the campaign code “@vakinha.com.br”, allowing the user to use it instead of their personal key in the dissemination. “Vakinha’s main mission is to help people raise money at critical times for them or for people in need. To encourage as many people to donate, we need to facilitate as many processes as possible”, said Luiz Felipe Gheller, CEO and co-founder of Vakinha. “We are always following the main market trends in order to implement new features and deliver the best possible experience to our users”, added the executive.