Various social media accounts defraud people into giving donations for seemingly charitable events
Putting up a front of providing help to the transgender community and often posing as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), social media pages have a knack for eliciting donations from unwary individuals by creating fake stories full of emotional rhetoric meant to highlight the plight of the community.
Sources privy to the matter told The Express Tribune that contrary to popular belief a vast majority of the transgender relief organizations parading on popular social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter were actually fake with no actual NGO status and thus were collecting funds illegally.
The Express Tribune traced one such NGO in Johar Town Lahore during its investigation; the NGO claimed in various posts across social media to teach Quran to the transgender community and therefore required funds to further its cause.
The same NGO in the recent past had posted about teaching individuals in the transgender community sewing, embroidery, and giving away free sewing machines – for this initiative they required the help of the general public in monetary terms. When contacted, the head of the pretend NGO conceded that they did not have a registration certificate.
Zainaya Chaudhry, a well-known transgender activist based in Lahore, while confirming the existence of such NGOs, said that such social media pages get donations from home and abroad but never actually help the community. “These pages do photo ops here and there; that is the reality of their activism.
The government should ban such fake NGOs and take legal action against those running them.” The Express Tribune learnt from sources that apart from the photo ops mentioned by Zainaya, such NGOs often pay transgender a few hundred rupees just to get pictures which can then be shared on social media for ‘brownie points.’
The latest ploy circulating is to collect money to provide rations to the transgender community during Ramadan and to give Eidi on the upcoming Eid-ul-Fitr. Guru Aashi Butt, a representative of the transgender community in Lahore, said that such ploys were in play to defraud innocent people. “We are already an oppressed community, they should stop looting people in our names. The community never gets to see the millions of rupees these NGOs collect,” an irate Aashi said.
The spokesperson of the Department of Social Welfare, Punjab, when asked about the upsurge of social media NGOs, said that it was illegal to pretend to be an NGO and then collect funds without any registration from the Department of Social Welfare and the Department of Home Affairs. “A list of registered NGOs in the province is available on the official website of the department.
Citizens should confirm whether any such institution is actually registered or not before giving them donations. We will start investigating all fake NGOs after Eid and the FIA will take actions against individuals running them,” the spokesperson informed The Express Tribune.