ABC star lashes out: ‘Total fraud'
ABC election pundit Antony Green has taken a swipe at website GoFundMe for hosting a fundraising drive featuring his image and name that the broadcaster had no knowledge of.
The page purported to be taking donations to fund his travels to the UK for next week's general election.
In a tweet, the man who Australia often relies on to call the election, said the page was a "total fraud". It has now been taken down by the site.
On Tuesday, Green sent out a message from Sydney Airport stating he was "heading off to London" for the UK poll.
He added that, "before accusations of ABC waste get thrown around," he had paid for the trip out of his own pocket.
On Thursday (UK time) he is due to attend a panel discussion in London on whether the UK's electoral system has had its day.
But during his travels he became aware of a GoFundMe claiming to fundraise for his London trip.
GoFundMe and similar websites allow individuals and organisations to raise money online with the cash transferred once the fundraising drive has been completed.
In the blurb, the page said: "The ABC won't pay for Antony Green to fly to London to cover the UK elections. Let's get Antony Green to London."
However, on Wednesday, Green called out the page. He said the fact it existed at all reflected poorly on GoFundMe.
"Can I just point out that this GoFundMe page is a total fraud and I have absolutely no idea who the organiser is," Green wrote on Twitter.
"Do not give money to it, and those who already have done have wasted their money. This sort of page gives GoFundMe a bad name."
Can I just point out that this gofundme page is a total fraud and I have absolutely no idea who the organiser is. Do not give money to it, and those who already have done have wasted their money. This sort of page gives gofundme a bad name. #auspol https://t.co/6W42RreXmF— Antony Green (@AntonyGreenABC) December 4, 2019
By Wednesday evening, the page had vanished. By some accounts it had raised a mere $373, not enough for an economy ticket to New Zealand let alone London.
GoFundMe Australia Regional Manager Nicola Britton told news.com.au the page had been taken down.
"We can confirm that the page in question failed to meet our trust and safety criteria and we have issued refunds under the GoFundMe guarantee.
"If someone is raising money for someone they don't know, GoFundMe will work with the campaign organiser to ensure the donations go directly to the beneficiary. Should the campaign fail to meet our strict safety criteria, the funds will not be released."
She said the company had a "robust vetting process" for fundraising campaigns and it kept hold of all funds donated until they can be "confident they will reach the intended place".
News.com.au understands that the person who uploaded the page may indeed have been trying to fund Green's trip rather that enact a rort in his name.
It's not the first time GoFundMe has found itself embroiled in hot water in Australia.
In June, former Wallaby Israel Folau used the platform to try and raised funds for his now settled legal case with Rugby Australia (RA).
However, GoFundMe removed Folau's page - which had raised more than $750,000 of a $3 million target - and pledged to issue refunds to all of the more than 7000 donors.
At the time, GoFundMe's regional manager Nicola Britton released a statement saying "after a routine period of evaluation, we have concluded that this campaign violates our terms of service".
Ms Britton said GoFundMe was committed to the "fight for equality" for LGBTIQ+ people and fostering an environment of inclusivity.
"While we welcome GoFundMes (sic) engaging in diverse civil debate, we do not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion," she said.
Folau's fundraising drive then moved to activist group the Australian Christian Lobby's page - which some labelled as "GodFundMe".
In two days, more than 20,000 people donated more than $2.2 million to Folau's campaign before it too was shut down after organisers said it had raised "enough money".
Following Folau and RA settling their case before it reached court, ACL head Martyn Iles said the lobby group will refund donors, "on a pro-rata basis, in accordance with our original commitment".