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Scammers Get Into the Occupy Wall Street Fundraising Game [UPDATED]

Fake?

The Occupy Wall Street protest in New York has only two official venues for donations–well, three if you count Bitcoin–but there are more than 200 online accounts claiming to raise money for the occupation. Some of those are affiliated groups or helpfully-minded syndicates–legal defense funds, generator funds, food funds, to personal fundraising to get to an occupation (transportation), and “scholarship” funds, for occupations across the country. But some of them are looking like scams.

Betabeat discovered an account on WePay.com, “Occupy Wall Street Fund,” which purported to be raising money for the organizers behind the New York City protest. One of the original organizers, Victoria Sobel, told us that the account looks fake–the fund claims to be raising money for things like cell phone service and medication refills, which the protest doesn’t pay for, she said. [UPDATE: This fund is legit, Betabeat discovered, after a protester got back to our request for contact. The money went to the group that runs the OccupyWallSt.org site. But there are others, including a WePay account attempting to raise $10,000, she said, that are dubious.]

Organizers plan to address the problem and try to get rid of some of the scammy accounts, she said, but it’s not being addressed just yet. “We’re actually facing eviction at the moment, so right now it’s not our top priority,” she said, referring to the city’s effort to clear the park tomorrow. “But protecting the interests of our very generous donors is very high on our list of priorities.” Read More