Man who crowdfunded for his sick son ordered to return the money

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A Beijing court has ordered a man to return the over 150,000 Yuan that he had raised through crowdfunding platform Shuidichou to fund his son’s medical expenses.

The man, named Mo Chunyi, published a request for aid on Shuidichou last April, in order to fund the medical fees for his son, who had been diagnosed with the rare and serious Wiskott–Aldrich syndrome. The target was set at 400,000 Yuan. Mr. Mo, who lives in Zhejiang, managed to raise 153,136 yuan through the platform within a few days.

While the fundraising request was still active, the platform received a complaint claiming that Mr. Mo and his wife owned a street-front property that they could rent out, and thus did not need the money. When reached, Mr. Mo claimed that the income from the property went to his father, and that him and his wife had both been jobless until recently. Shuidichou thus released the funds.

In July, Mr. Mo’s son unfortunately died. A few days later, his wife reported him to Shuidichou, claiming that the hospital fees had been paid through social security and a hospital fund, and that the money fundraised had not been used for this purpose. What’s more, she reiterated that the child’s father had a property and did not need to raise money. The platform then asked Mr. Mo for an explanation, and he claimed that he had planned to use the money for further medical expenses, but his son had died before he could do so. He claimed to be willing to return the money or use it for charity.

In August, Shuidichou sent Mr. Mo a lawyer’s letter formally asking him to return the money by the end of the month. When he failed to do so, the platform took him to court. Beijing’s Chaoyang District People’s Court found that over the course of 2018 the man had already received a total of almost 60,000 yuan in aid from a couple of philanthropic foundations and from the local Civil Affairs Bureau, but he had not disclosed these facts when fundraising.

On the 6th of November, the court ordered Mr. Mo to return the whole sum fundraised and the relevant interests. It also advised Shuidichou and the Ministry of Civil Affairs to establish rules to promote transparency in fundraising. Judge Wang Min recommended that there should be a screening process for fundraisers and a third-party monitoring system.

Over the last few years the popularity of crowdfunding has increased exponentially in China, but there have been many cases of help-seekers being accused of asking for money when they already had a high income or properties at their disposal (click on “read more” for further examples).