Children being used to collect fraudulent donations
The practice of using teenagers to collect money for ‘charity’ on the streets must be outlawed, according to Ksenya Mishonova, who is responsible for protecting children’s rights in the Moscow region.
“In essence, it amounts to children begging under the pretence of doing charity work or volunteering. Responsibility for this should rest with the parents,” Ksenya Mishonova remarked at a meeting of the council which reports on children’s rights to the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation.
According to Anton Androsov, Chairman of the Belgorod Regional Public Organisation Emergency Youth Care, independent research carried out by his organisation has shown that tens of millions of roubles can be collected by organisations of dubious integrity over the course of a year. The website of the Committee on Children’s Rights in the Russian Federation states that a proportion of this money goes towards the salaries of volunteers, including children under the age of 18.
According to Anna Kuznetsovaya, who reports to the Russian President on children’s rights, instances of children under the age of 18 collecting ‘donations’ is one of many problems associated with the fraudulent activity of charities. According to a report by Rossyskaya Gazeta, there are also cases of money being collected for illegitimate causes and photographs of other people’s children being used illegally. The ombudsman believes that teenagers are being drawn into crime in this way and it is seriously damaging their mental health.
Everyone present at the meeting was in favour of tightening self-regulation for NGOs and supported the call for a public awareness campaign and closer collaboration with law enforcement agencies.
According to experts, fraudulent schemes for money laundering under the guise of charitable donations are spreading rapidly across the country because it is very difficult to establish what constitutes illegal activity. Victims of these scams recognise that their losses are not significant for them while for fraudsters there are technically legal ways of operating (for example, by transferring a small proportion of the money raised to the official beneficiaries).
In the absence of state monitoring of this area, NGOs have opted for self-regulation. To date 249 charitable organisations have signed a moratorium on street collections.