Longtime viewers of CNBC‘s American Greed will recall that occasionally, episodes of the series split time between more than one story, and that’s what happens in this week’s hour called “Social Media Scam Artists.” The series looks at not one, but three different stories of people who manipulated crowdfunding to their advantage.
To go too far into specifics would be spoiling, but the network has already released the first ten minutes (which are at the bottom of this article), introducing a couple who set up a GoFundMe effort for a homeless veteran in Philadelphia. It’s got the twists and turns that American Greed viewers have come to expect from the show, although since legal matters in the case are still ongoing, it doesn’t get a complete resolution.
The other two stories involve a woman who faked terminal cancer and a sham pet charity, which aren’t as complicated but are still galling. The former’s narrative gets downright ridiculous, with her even invoking the name of Ruth Bader Ginsburg at one point. It also brings Facebook into the picture, reminding the viewer that crowdfunding isn’t just on one platform; it would’ve been enlightening to see some further data on or exploration of how many social media clients are used for these sorts of things. After all, there are whole shows on MTV of people pretending to be other people.
What’s particularly interesting is that the show keeps having to read different statements from GoFundMe about these cases of fraud, and it’s hard not to question the site after watching the episode. Though American Greed takes pains to note that the company did everything it could to make things right with donors who were taken in by these fictitious causes, you can’t help but lose confidence in their ability to identify them in the first place.
If there’s one criticism of the episode, it’s that it doesn’t feel quite balanced. The first story takes up about half of the hour, meaning that the latter two don’t get the same in-depth treatment, and that makes them feel a bit rushed. But these stories will definitely make people more skeptical of the next online fundraising effort they come across.
American Greed airs Mondays at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on CNBC. You can watch the first ten minutes of this episode below.
Article content is (c)2020-2021 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr, on Instagram at @BFTVGram.