Beggars have started using the various social media platforms and online sources where they are directing their posts and messages to attract sympathy via stories from inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Mohammad Al Sareai, an expert on information security, has stated that the revolution of information has been a major contributor to the widespread of electronic or online begging with the use of fabricated stories and forged documents, and also posting these on the various social networks such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter.[irp]
These types of people are usually looking to collect money for treatment of an illness or for a mosque, by using a fake account and nicknames, which has made electronic begging the latest means of fraud. Fraud and electronic begging are two sides to the same coin and has been aimed to deceive the people into collecting funds illegally. The fraud crime is considered as the highest occurring cyber-crime all over the world on the social networking platforms and websites. Al Sareai has added that the Article 4 of the Anti-Cyber Law in the Kingdom covers the acquisition of bonds or movable property for oneself and signing such bonds via a fraudulent method such as using a false identity or name.
Any individual, who commits such a crime, shall be subjected to a maximum jail time of 3 years and a maximum monetary fine of SAR 2 million, or one of the punishments stated above. Sheikh Ahmed Al Muabi has stated that begging and cyber fraud has become common in our communities, and the worst part is that you cannot tell if they are lying or telling the truth, however, it has become the new means of begging and everybody should be cautious about such people.
He added that there is no doubt that we as humans feel compassion and sympathy, however before donating, we should first completely investigate the source, as God has made it clear as to who the Zakat or donations should be given to. A sociology counselor from the University of Umm Al Qura, Dr. Mohammed Kisnawi has stated that any person should be dealing with such messages with extreme cautions and has advised all generous people to visit charities themselves before donating.
He added that we should not be forgetting that there is a dire need to educate the individuals on the circulation of news about any individual or person who donates or gives Zakat, where and when this inadvertently helps in increasing or encouraging the phenomenon of begging and fraud.[irp]
Kisnawi further stated that the society should be completely aware of the huge risk associated with circulating such messages, and should rather be making sure to report these messages to the concerned authorities. A family and community medicine consultant at the King Khalid University, Khaled Al Jelban has stated that the families must educate the children about the various practices of begging which are prevalent on the various social media platforms.
Source: Arab News