Dennis Bayazitov | Assistant News Editor
Featured image: York has experienced an influx of alleged scammers in previous years—most notably when Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in November 2013. | Basma Elbahnasawy
A recent reddit post on r/yorku warns the community to be cautious of potential scammers targeting students, guised as charities seeking donations. More than two dozen York students have come forward via the social news aggregation platform, sharing their own encounters with the individuals in question.
Student accounts describe the offenders in question as Southeast Asian—more specifically, Filipino—ranging from 20 to 40 years old, who carry a clipboard or black booklet containing laminated documents displaying signatures from supposed previous donors.
Students reported the individuals approached them asking for directions, or just being friendly. They would say they were seeking donations for a natural or war disaster victimizing children in the Philippines.
Students were approached all over campus—but most frequently at the Student Centre, York Lanes, Victor Phillip Dahdaleh Building, Vari Hall, Curtis Lecture Halls, and both Accolade East and West.
The individuals commonly target Southeast Asian students, as they are likely to sympathize with their “cause,” claiming they represent the Children’s Joy Foundation—a charity that is actually registered with the Canadian Revenue Agency.
However, numerous campus bulletins from schools in Canada and the U.S. warn students to be wary of these individuals, and to report suspicious activity to campus security.
York has experienced an influx of alleged scammers in previous years—most notably, when Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in November 2013.
One anonymous reddit user reports: “A friendly, soft-spoken guy—who looked like he was Filipino—approached me in the Seneca library with a notepad—which contained his I.D.—and a portable terminal.
“He used my ethnicity as a way to start a conversation, then gave me a laminated card describing the situation in the Philippines and asked for a donation. The notepad already had three names listed, with the amount they donated—all in the hundreds.
“I donated less than 100 and he urged me to round it off to 100, but I didn’t,” the user adds.
Chris Durand, a fifth-year Communication Studies student, reports he has been approached twice before: “Both times, I was approached with an ‘excuse me, can I ask you a question?’ They mentioned ‘Philippines disasters,’ and so on—one of which was related to Typhoon Haiyan—and asked if I could donate money.”
First-year Computer Science student Jimmy Gong reports he was approached five or six times by either an adult Filipino man or woman: “They both approached me in the same manner, by first asking for my name and how my day was. They try to act really friendly and nice to you, and then they will hand you their charity bulletin.
“It was for a charity called the Children’s Joy Foundation.
“I vaguely remember every single time, they asked me to donate money for some war, or some generic natural disaster in the Philippines,” he continues.
“If you don’t have any cash, they pull out a debit card machine. When I said no to the lady the first time, she asked me if I felt any sympathy deep in my heart for these children, since we were both Asian.”
One anonymous student reports: “It happened a number of times to me, given I live on campus. They always looked like people who were lost, carrying around a black booklet with information inside. They’re an inconvenience when trying to go to class, and likely scam people who are just trying to get where they need to be.”
Second-year Biology student Natasha Ali reports she’s been approached three times before: “They claimed to be collecting money for a children’s charity, and when I told them I had no cash on me, they immediately answered with a: ‘We have a credit card machine!’”
Alan Tang reports he has been approached several times: “They’re usually Southeast Asian. I’ve been approached by both males and females. They usually carry a small zipper binder with their stationery, and a laminated ‘government document’ resembling a photoshopped screenshot of a federal government website.”
Many of the students who shared their experiences expressed frustration with York Security for allowing these sorts of individuals to continue their ploys.
“Based on the specific circumstances of the scam, York’s Security Service will investigate and intervene, and will engage legal services and/or the police if necessary,” says Samina Sami, executive director of Community Safety.
“Charity scammers divert much-needed donations away from legitimate charities and causes, and are not welcome on York’s campuses.”
York Security encourages community members to continue reporting any scams they witness.