JAPEM: Be wary of text messages seeking donations

National 2 minutes, 38 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE Community Development Department (JAPEM) yesterday advised the public to be wary of text messages or social media posts asking for donations and to seek out proper verification first from the organising body.

Speaking to The Brunei Times in a phone interview, a community development officer who asked not to be named said that in such cases, any member of the public coming across people appealing for financial donations are advised to follow its guidelines.

“According to the guidelines, anyone who is approached by a person asking for donations should ask for his or her identity card or other forms of identification, give words of advice so that the person would adopt a more positive demeanour and ask if the person would prefer receiving only his immediate non-financial needs as donations instead,” she said.

If the person soliciting donations is known to be “truly in a dire situation or in need of assistance, he or she should be referred to raise his concerns with JAPEM at the offices in Jln Kebangsaan or contact the helpline 141,” she said.

The officer said that although each individual has his or her own right to ask for help, it is generally not encouraged for public appeals of donations to be made without first approaching the authorities for help or verification.

The assistant director of JAPEM’s welfare section, who also declined to be named, explained that these cases need to be verified to prevent the public from being taken advantage of.

“In all reports we receive of people asking for donations through social media, our social workers will immediately investigate each case, in case it turns out that the person is genuinely in dire need of welfare assistance,” said the assistant director.

“Most of these cases (of people asking for donation via social media) are already receiving assistance from the government in some form. There are also instances when it turns out to be the same person asking for donations but the person opens up different stories,” said the assistant director.

The community development officer said that although there was no accurate data readily available, JAPEM receives about two to three such cases of persons making a public appeal for donation through social media which needs verification from them from her observation, although there are some months when it does not receive a single report.

“Sometimes some of the claims are not valid. For example, the address shared on the post or message does not exist,” she said.

JAPEM was speaking to The Brunei Times in response to a viral text message shared on WhatsApp from an unknown person claiming that his or her permanent resident parents aged 67 and 68 are in poor health and that any food or other forms of donation are welcome as the person and his or her siblings have many dependents already.

JAPEM yesterday said that its social workers were made aware of that particular text message on Wednesday and are currently in the process of verifying and investigating it.

No replies were received by press time yesterday when the phone number listed on the text message was contacted by The Brunei Times.

The Brunei Times