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Help Indian Student Accident Victim Hoax

Email claims that the Indian Students Association will donate 10 cents to help an Indian student hurt in a car accident every time the message is forwarded (Full commentary below).


Example:(Submitted, January 2007)
plzz pass it on..its cost u nothing..... indian student in USA met with an accident last week..the car was driven by a drunk american boy...he has no one in US..his parents cant afford to go there and help him out..hovewer the university he studied in has decided to pay half the cost but the other half has to be paid by someone..the INDIAN STUDENTS ASSOCIATION has decided that it wil pay 10cents every time this message is passed on...ORKUT has agreed to this and the message has already passed a lot.....please be generous and send this to all the people.

According to this email forward, you can help an Indian student based in the USA recover from a car accident simply by sending the message to others. The message would have us believe that the Indian Students Association will somehow keep track of how many times the message is sent and pay the injured student 10 cents for every forwarded message.

This claim is simply nonsense. Firstly, there is no reliable or ethical means of tracking how many times a particular email message is sent. Messages such as this may be forwarded thousands of times and it would be virtually impossible to accurately calculate how much money needed to be donated.

Secondly, no legitimate organization is ever likely to place such an absurd restriction on a charitable exercise. If an entity such as a student's association did agree to offer monetary aid to an injured student, it would simply make one or more donations depending on available funds and the needs of the student involved. They certainly would not base the final amount to be donated on how many times an email was sent. There is simply no sane or reasonable motive for any organization to participate in such a ridiculous scheme.

In fact, any claim that an amount of money will be donated every time an email is sent is sure to be untrue. There have been a number of fake "charity" emails that have made such claims. All such claims have been bogus.

However, in some cases the actual incident described in the message is true even though the claim that donations are dependent on forwarding emails is false. In 2005, an email began circulating that claimed forwarding the message would result in donations to help Baby Alexandra who was badly burned in a house fire. Alexandra is a real child and she was badly burned. However, an original and quite legitimate email asking for direct donations to help Alexandra was changed to include the totally false claim that 3 cents would be donated every time the email was sent on. Unfortunately, information about how people could really donate was removed from the message.

Other than mentioning the Indian Students Association, this message provides very little details about the accident or the student involved. Neither the student nor his university is named in the message. Possibly, the message was derived from a 2005 accident in which Narendra Lakamraju, an Indian student at Arizona State University was seriously injured. Another student died in the crash. The Indian Students Association organised the collection of donations to help cover Narendra's medical bills and provided an online donations option.

As with baby Alexandra, a legitimate email request for donations may have mutated into the pointless message that is currently circulating. In fact, it is unclear if the message refers to Narendra, is about another unknown student or is a total fabrication. Whatever the true origins of the message, forwarding the email in its present form will help nobody and do nothing more than add to the clutter in our inboxes.

Charity Hoaxes
Help Burned Baby Alexandra Email
ISA: Donate Generously for Narendra Lakamraju
AZIndia - Donations

Last updated: 1st February 2007
First published: 1st February 2007

Write-up by Brett M. Christensen