Thursday, June 11, 2009

Scammers and Fake Blogs

I've thought several times about writing this post, but with the recent discovery that another, widely popular blog is indeed a scam, I've finally made the decision that this is as good a time as any to share what little bit of experience I might have to add to the conversation.

Having been personally duped by a fake blog about a year ago, and having observed (but thankfully not invested any energy, links, etc. into) the blog referred to above, I feel somewhat experienced in the art of spotting some potential red flags that might signal a scammer or a fake blog.

Here are a few fake blog red flags that I've identified:

> The blog author posts few to no pictures of him/herself and his/her life (like his/her family and friends, house, town/city, etc.). Both of the fake blogs I have experience never showed a single photo (face) of the author of the blog, and showed very few, if any, pictures of his/her life. There are some bloggers who like to protect their privacy, but by it's very nature, blogs are an incredibly public form of communication, and most people who get into blogging (for honest reasons) are very open about their lives...those bloggers who desire privacy usually set their blogs to "private" so that they are only viewable by a select few people. A blogger (especially one that has thousands of followers) who never posts a a picture of him/herself has always seemed a bit of an odd thing to me.

> The author uses an alias and/or refuses to post his/her real name or other personal info like hometown, names of hospitals, etc. Both of the fake blogs I have experience with had authors who either refused to post their real name, or often used an alias when posting. It's one thing to use nicknames for your wife or your kids or your friends, but it's another thing to not want people to know your real, full name. Again, blogging tends to attract people who don't mind some of their basic personal info being displayed to the world.

Personally speaking, we have been very open about our story, using pictures and much of our personal information. Our story has also been well documented in news papers and on television, and we have met countless blog readers in person who would be more than happy to vouch for our existence. Although we do atempt to protect our privacy to some degree, we have always welcomed a certain level of publicity for several reasons, not the least of which being to give ourselves some credibility should anyone (and some have tried) attack our integrity.

> There are multiple anonymous people authoring (posting) the blog. Both of the fake blogs I have experience with had multiple authors/posters. And, as it turned out, each of the scammers had also, to some extent, scammed the other author(s) of their own blog into believing their story and posting for them. Obviously the scammer realizes he/she is creating a web of lies, and it appears to me that, to use multiple authors gives the scammer a false sense of security and authenticity.

> The blog asks for money/donations of some kind that directly benefit the blogger. Without a doubt, money is one of the biggest reasons these fake bloggers get into it. Both of the scammers that I have experienced asked for personal donations or gifts.

On a personal note, before my blog became so popular, I had a link on my sidebar that asked for people to consider donating to Tricia's health care trust fund. Shortly after the blog exploded, however, I decided that it would be best for us not to use this blog to ask for personal financial support because 1) I determined that was not the purpose of this blog, 2) I knew it would turn some people off from reading our story, and 3) I didn't want our asking for personal financial support to come back and bite us in the butt. In fact, a year ago, when a popular CF related blog that I had linked to was found to be fake, several people (read trolls) began, very publicly, pointing fingers at me, accusing me of scamming people because I was also constantly asking for personal financial support...fortunately, several of my level headed blog readers also pointed out that had not been asking for any personal financial support for several months, and wisdom and truth prevailed.

> Something doesn't feel right. Bottom line, trust your instincts. If something feels off or if things just don't seem to add up, nobody is pressuring you to support or even read any blog. Again, we're each responsible for our own decisions, and even if thousands of others are hooked, you don't have to be.

I personally had some doubts about the legitimacy of the fake blog that I linked to last year before it was found to be fake. After it hit the fan, I realized that my doubts were legitimate and should have taken them seriously and trusted my instincts.


Now, having identified a few red flags, it is incredibly important that you understand that I am NOT attempting to purposely bring suspicion to any blog that has not already been proven to be fake, nor do I believe that every blog that includes any or even all of these red flags is indeed fake. Furthermore, my list of red flags certainly is not an exhaustive list, and I have no doubt that there are many authentic blogs out there that might include some or all of the red flags I just mentioned. I know of several blogs that I believe are legit whose authors maintain a high level or privacy, use multiple authors, and offer the opportunity for people to donate and support financially...there are some very good reasons to do those things, but they tend to be the exception, not the rule. I'm certainly not an expert on this subject, and I did not sleep at a Holiday Inn last night...

Here are a few more thoughts that I've posted before about scamming blogs.

> Fake blogs and scammers have the potential to do great harm for those who are completely honest in sharing their stories of medical hardships and miracles. They mock people who are dealing with very real and serious health issues and bring an unfair level of doubt and scrutiny to honest bloggers. Because of scamming blogs, I have been told by a few people online that they have vowed to never again read mine or anyone else's blog simply because we talk the same topics as those of fake blogs.

> People react in a very hostile and knee-jerk way when they have been fooled by a fake blog. People who have been hurt begin going on witch hunts, accusations start flying all over the place, and blame is passed to any blogger who also innocently linked to the scammers. The only people to blame for these fake blogs are those who knowingly participated in the deception, which, it turns out, is usually just one or two people.

> Scams have the potential to do great harm to reputable organizations like CFF who raise funds and are making a huge difference in our world. Because fake blogs are often accused of raising moneys through fraud, many people are tempted to write off any future online fundraising opportunities as possible scams and accuse those who might be participating as fakes.

> Truth is truth, no matter the messenger. Whether concerning a health issue, discussions about faith, or posts about life in general, even the most twisted and deceitful person can still share very real and honest facts. Often, people are so quick and extreme to react to fake blogs that they throw the baby out with the bath water...they disregard everything the author wrote as one big fat lie, when, in fact, some of what was written is very true and very helpful.

Discovering a blog is fake is very frustrating, and really, nobody comes out looking good. People are seriously hurt, because blogging, by nature, is a very personal thing. The stories that scammers use are aimed at pulling at our heart strings and drawing us into an emotional attachment and involvement. It is frustrating beyond words to place your trust in somebody who asks for so much compassion, only to be made a fool.

While some become extremely jaded by a fake blog, most people understand that there is a healthy balance to be found between compassion and common sense. I'd personally rather be open and willing to show compassion at the risk of being called a fool than to be hard-hearted and cynical to anyone who appears to be in need of love. There is something good to be said about a world that can show such incredible love to perfect strangers.

Anyway, I'm probably preaching to the choir, and all of what I've just written may have been pointless. But, feel free to ad your healthy thoughts and comments, and I'd be more than happy to try and answer any general questions about fake blogs and online scams.

Nate

87 comments:

mumameee said...

Totally agree with what you have said....I too had a 'gut' feeling something was not right with the recent scam...but the one you mentioned a year ago - I was following till it came to an abrupt end!

Hope you are enjoying your house & settled in - would love to see some new pics of the place :)

SWelch said...

I had no clue there were even fake blogs out there! Wow. I never realized people would even try to do that. Thanks for the heads up!!

Candi said...

I didn't follow the most recent fake (only read about it after the fact), but did read the one you mentioned a year ago. Seems unreal that people could do something like that, but things like that happen all around us.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

The Queen of Chaos said...

Great post, I'd love to link my blog to it. I am appalled at the events of this week and the reactions people have had.

Ann said...

Well said Nate. I followed the fake blog from last year and definitely learned from it. Red flags flew up the second I read the first post on the most recent fake. Sad really.

Thanks for sharing, you are very well spoken.

Shari said...

I agree with you completely on what you have written! I don't like to post pics of myself personally because I don't think pics make me look too good! I am heavy and they make me look heavier! Thank you for posting this! Those bloggers who do scam really need our prayers. There is something obviously wrong for them to need that kind of attention. It's very sad.

Just an ordinary woman said...

Thanks for posting this!

I blogged about the recent scam too - but I blogged from an emotional point of view - this was my first experience of a fake blog and I had invested so much emotionally in this story and I find the topic that was chosen was absolutely sick - anyway, I wont rant on anymore.

What I really wanted to say was that I too had a weird feeling about this "red flags", I for one will use them as a guide-line in the future.

Kerren
Johannesburg
South Africa

Free Blog Makeovers by Louise said...

I don't know what the recent scam is but I know the blog your talking about from last year because I was sucked in too and felt incredibly hurt. I never doubted your story for a minute - because of all the reasons you listed in the red flags really. I think you do have to go with your gut though and I wish I had trusted my gut about the other blog last year because alot of alarm bells were ringing about that one. On the photo side of things though I do know many genuine people who don't like photos of themselves and rarely post any (myself included) but I can see how that would seem a bit odd. I'm just camera shy/not pretty and prefer to spare my visitors the sight :)

anika said...

Fake blogs..
who knew there was such a thing...
I am so busy with my world... my blog, and the few blogs I read, I had no idea...
wow
thanks for the heads up!!
I suppose it ought not surprise me...
blessings to you and the fam!

brad.kellie.carter.lucy said...

Very well said. I just don't understand it ~ maybe I'm being naive. I didn't even realize people made fake blogs until the recent one was exposed. Thank you for taking the time to make people more aware that this does happen and what to look for.

Jennifer said...

Until I saw the "other" blog you first mention .... I never realized that people could do that. I mean .. I never even thought that people would do that. Now I look at each blog I read ... I pray for the situation ... I pray for the people, but under no circumstances would I ever send something to a person in the form of money or any other thing b/c their story may not be true.

When I first read your blog, I knew two things ... I knew that you were a *real* person and I knew that Tricia's situation was *real.* I knew this b/c I knew my friend Patience knew you guys in person. Then of course I saw you at the CF Walk (2 x's) and at C3.

I did not even go read this other blog you or MckMama mention because well .. I for some reason missed it's existence. Weird b/c I follow you MckMama's blog almost as much as I follow yours. So Imust have missed apost or two. Or maybe God was protecting me from thinking about blogs too much. I dunno. All I do know is that we can pray for the people that are in their situations ... even if it turns out that their situation is false ... those same people need our prayers more than ever. They obviously need our Christian support, help and prayers.

Nate, I applaud you for your honest and your openness. It has allowed me to be open & honest on my own blog.

Love you guys!

Twinkletoes said...

I, too, had a gut feeling about this one and was only reading to wait for light to be shed on it. You opened my eyes to trolls last year - and I vividly remember you mentioning the picture thing. Did this person have all fake "belly shots" or were they stolen? Either way - it's so odd to me to live a separate life like that. You wrote this so well...and remained professional throughout!

Pam said...

All good advice. I've definitely learned from this experience (I was completely duped although didn't give her a dime thankfully) and your tips will help that not to happen to me again, too.

Queen Mommy said...

Very well said. I followed the fake blog last year for awhile too. It was funny because, like you, something felt very "off" to me about it at the time. Too bad I didn't trust my gut back then. So this time, when I followed the link and got the very same "off" feeling, I trusted that still, small voice. Nevertheless, I never want to become so callous that I don't pray for those who need it, so I did pray, but in one of those "God you know what they need in this situation..." ways.

Domestic Superhero said...

I,thankfully, didn't follow the most recent fake out, but I've followed others. My first experience with a fake blog was when our story was on Carepages, except they did have pictures, use names- but apparently the pictures were lifted from another family's little girl; which just made it that much more sickening to me. I'm praying for these people who have such a void in their lives. I did want to point out, that all your points are valid, more so if there are a few of them together. I choose to keep our names private, but that is to try and keep a specific person who has bothered us in the past from doing so. Anyway, I feel badly for all of those that have been hurt by this recent scam :(
God Bless

Jolanda said...

Thanks for that Nathan... good blog!

Christina said...

What an amazing post! I hope you don't mind I tweeted about it this morning with a link to your blog. I like many others, didn't know there were fake blogs out their either until this past weekend.

Pati said...

well said nathan.
thanks for the much needed info.

Tori said...

Thanks Nate! I followed the most recent scam, offered words of encouragement, and prayer. I remember feeling cautious when it first came out, but chose to believe the best of this person. The Lord convicts me on a daily basis about loving people like He does because I struggle with the attitude of criticism.

I can't say I am not angry and hurt, but I can only think of those more closely involved and emotionally invested than I, and pray for God to bring comfort and healing to their hearts.

In Him,
Tori

Snarky Mom said...

I unfortunately was sucked into the fake blog and it would be so easy to hate and to vilify the writer. But instead I'll pray for her. I might grit my teeth while doing so but I'll still pray for her.

I choose to keep my identity private by using Snarky Mom as my alias and while I do post some pics of my kids, I do not ever post pictures of myself or Big Daddy on the blog. However, I have legitimate reasons including the fact that my blog deals with foster care and my job as a social worker. My boys were adopted from foster care. I can't take the chance that someone will try and track me down. It's just a safety concern. I've had people ask why I continue to blog then, if I'm afraid of being "outed". I blog about foster care because there are more than half a million children in foster care today. There are thousands, if not millions, more that are suffering at the hands of a caregiver. And there are millions of foster parents who just need to know they are not alone.

Laryssa said...

Very well written. We can get duped by a blog just like by a letter in the mail asking for donations; it's all a matter of what our gut tells us, like you said.

I think you should include in your list that anyone who may be fooled by these fake blogs should not get upset that they "wasted" their time praying for the person, as I've read a few people say about this latest fake blogger. In truth, those "fakers" need prayers, too.

God bless.

The Thornton Family said...

Well said. I have heard of, but did not read the one from last year - but spent spent lots of time praying for the most recent. I'm still praying for her - she needs our prayers more now than ever. Yes! She did an awful, sick thing - but when asked, the Lord will forgive her. We should all do the same.
But like MckMama's tweet earlier...I'm moving on.....

Stacey in Missippi

Love Being a Nonny said...

Very well written...not judgmental. Thank you for sharing.

~RAch~ said...

Very well written, and very good advice.

I wasn't into blogging last year, so this recent fake blog is my first experience. I didn't actively follow it. I found it, didn't go back for a while, but with the recent events that lead up to the last few days of the blog, I went back.

I posted about a comment that was left on the blog the day before it was shut down. A not so nice comment at that. I pointed many people to my post and that blog because I was so upset about what the commenter had said, and I knew this woman needed prayers. Little did I know just how badly she needed them.

I look back and there were a couple of "weird feelings" about it... mainly the fact that I couldn't get into her blog.. and if you look at the list of blogs that I follow it isn't because I'm not into that kind of blog.

It just amazes me what people can do, and it saddens me that they can do such nasty things.

I will continue to pray that this woman gets any help she needs. And for all the people that invested their time, their emotions, and help both financially and by spreading the word.

Vera said...

Well said! I think your point about gut instincts is really important... one thing I discovered from this situation is that I at some point started judging people based on who linked to them and how many readers they had - woah, that's CRAZY! If something seems "off" and/or I don't like what someone is saying, I should follow my instincts regardless of whether they're popular or not - popularity does not make someone worth following (I thought I learned THAT in high school, but I guess not).

Mrs. Bee said...

Well said!

kayleesgrandma said...

I did a blog about this--sometimes scammers have what is called "Munchausen by Internet".

M√ľnchausen syndrome is a psychiatric disorder in which those affected fake disease, illness, or psychological trauma in order to draw attention or sympathy to themselves. It is in a class of disorders known as factitious disorders which involve "illnesses" whose symptoms are either self-induced or falsified by the patient. It is also sometimes known as hospital addiction syndrome.

This refers to people who simplify this "real-life" process by carrying out their deceptions online. Instead of seeking care at numerous hospitals, they gain new audiences merely by clicking from one support group to another. [U]Under the guise of illness, they can also join multiple groups simultaneously. Using different names and accounts, they can even sign on to one group as a stricken patient, his frantic mother, and his distraught son all to make the ruse utterly convincing.

Clues to Detection of False Claims:
*the posts consistently duplicate material in other posts, in books, or on health-related websites;

*the characteristics of the supposed illness emerge as caricatures;
near-fatal bouts of illness alternate with miraculous recoveries;

*claims are fantastic, contradicted by subsequent posts, or flatly disproved;

*there are continual dramatic events in the person's life, especially when other
group members have become the focus of attention;

*there is feigned blitheness about crises (e.g., going into septic shock) that will predictably attract immediate attention;

*others apparently posting on behalf of the individual (e.g., family members, friends) have identical patterns of writing.

I hope this additional information will add to your excellent post. I'm sorry, for something like this makes people wary of investing themselves in others blogs, when there are so many good people out there...

amanda said...

i love your post. your honesty. your un-patronizing way of saying it all. thanks for being so real.

Michelle said...

to be perfectly honest, i've got mixed feelings about this post. overall, i think it is EXCELLENT and an important post with what's been happening recently... and it makes sense. good guidelines.

however, i have a few of the "red flags" for very legitimate reasons.

although my xanga blog has lots of pictures, my blogspot blog has VERY FEW pictures because i simply have a HORRIBLE time getting the pictures to post the way i want... so after half an hour, i give up.

i say i'm from D.C., but the reality is that i live 25 miles in a suburb that i simply CANNOT list. my parents are in law enforcement, and we've always had to take measures to protect our location...

...and i've been kidnapped by my father, so if he were to find my blog, we don't want him to know EXACTLY where we are.

just a few thoughts, especially about why there aren't pictures on some blogs... i know several people who just can't get them right so they don't bother, like me. :-)

keep up the good posting - i enjoy your blog as much now as i did when your girls were living in the hospital! :-)

- michelle

Janice and Jessica said...

Even though I follow both you and MckMama, I too had missed the posts about the "fake" until the uproar exploded. I blog some about my spouses health related issues and how my daughter and I deal with it so that others out there may know they are not alone. Even if it only helps one person, then blogging about it is worth it.

Thank you for allowing us to glimpse a side of your lives. I think of you, Tricia and Gwenyth everyday and always send my best thoughts to your lovely family.

won said...

I think, and God knows I do not want to get stoned for saying what I am about, but I think perspective is needed.

Easy for me to say, sure. I did not read the blog referenced. I had not invested my heart, energies, or money.

However, having lost an 11 year old daughter taught me without hesitation, without doubt, that there are very few real problems in our lives. Nuisances and incoveniences? Absolutely. Problems? Not so many.

Looking at the "bright" side, everyone is alive (heck, there isn't even a suffering baby), eveyone's still carrying on. That is a blessing.

Again, I am not trying to make real emotion out to be trite. I am sorry that many feel pain. I am just trying to offer a different perspective.

amanda said...

Nate,

I've been following your blog since I heard through the blogvine about the miracles of a new life, which appeared, and also were unfolding.

I can remember the fake blogs you posted on, in the midst of your tedious, steadfast (so incredible I can't find the words to express) journey, you mention here in your post.

At that time I was new to my own blog, and I would have never expected, or thought about a fake blog, until your blog brought such to my attention.

One of the things that bothered and bothers me the most about fake blogs and scammers is what you have already mentioned, and that is what it can and does try to do to genuine blogs, and that is so disheartening to me! People/bloggers dealing with real life situations, who also, unfortunately have to deal with the effects of scammers and fake blogs.

I think you've always done a great job of countering those effects, and I appreciate all the tips you've have shared about blogger etiquette and about blogging. You are a good blogger Nate-I enjoy visiting your blog, and I appreciate everything you have shared, and continue to share.

Thanks.
amanda
MB, SC

Momof2bz said...

Very well said! It's a shame that some people do this stuff but it's good to see blogs like yours that tell us what to look for. :)

Anonymous said...

excellent post!!!
but at the same time it is very sad,

CFHusband said...

I'm very impressed with the comments so far...lots of wisdom and grace in the words being written here. Thanks to those who have shared their personal experiences, including why you blog the way you do!

GinnyBerry said...

I read both blogs and I have to say that I'd had a gut feeling that something was wrong with both of them. Something was just not right. I'm happy that I didn't get hooked into the recently exposed fake blog... but I do know that I can learn from this situation.

Nat, I've admired your integrity in the way you've handled your blog's exploding popularity. It is a powerful story, and I felt blessed to be able to read it.

Our life is a bowl of Barry's said...

Thanks for sharing your opinions/views on the subject Nate. I like when you do these kinds of posts because you tell it like it is!

Penny said...

This was a great post about the "fake blog." I like that you said it was better to risk being a fool than to become cynical (paraphrased). I said the almost exact thing on a friend's blog when she kicked herself for being naive.
I also liked Won's comments about showing compassion for the woman who wrote the blog. Like won, I was not personally (as personal as blogging can get) involved in B's story. I'd never seen anything more than a few buttons advertising her blog, until the whole thing exploded. So, I know it sounds "easy" for me to not be angry with her and I am NOT discounting others feelings about being duped. Prayers, however, are never wasted. Yes, perhaps time could have been better spent praying for people who actually need it. However, who could possibly need prayer more than a person with such a desperate need for attention that she would fabricate a story like this? Maybe, because of others prayers, she can get the counseling she needs to process her grief, or whatever her problems are. I hope that we don't become so afraid of being duped, that we lose opportunities to pray for legitimate bloggers like you and Tricia and the many, many others that need them. God bless. =)

S. said...

i agree with everything you have said. it is a shame that people feel the need to lie, plagiarize, and make others feel sorry for them. this does not just happen in the blog world.

there was one thing that i don't completely agree with, even though you have had direct experience with it. i keep my name and place where i live private to protect me and my family. this is the internet and i don't want spam or people knowing the real me without my permission. it makes since that people who are scamming us would give false identities, but that does not mean to put all of us who protect our names and towns in that category. i am sure that was not your intention, however, that is how it read.

CFHusband said...

@S.

I think you must have missed something...I said,

"I have no doubt that there are many authentic blogs out there that might include some or all of the red flags I just mentioned. I know of several blogs that I believe are legit whose authors maintain a high level or privacy, use multiple authors, and offer the opportunity for people to donate and support financially..."

Not sure if I can be more clear about it?

Patty said...

Very good post Nate! I remember clicking over to this latest scam when MckMama posted about her, and something felt off, so I never went back. When MckMama posted about it being a scam this week, I realized that I was right. Until the scam last year I was in the dark as far as fake blogs went, and still can't believe people would stoop so low.

Emma and Mommy said...

Very well said. I too have been tricked a few times by fake bloggers, and it can be very upsetting to know you were caught up in a fakers story. Or wasted time praying for a faker when real people needed your prayers.

There are times I would love to help people with money issues, but I never do anymore, because you never know who is lying and who isn't on the internet. I do donate to causes, and that I will always do, but a person wanting money, gets prayers from me and that is it, hoping they are truly needing them.

That is one reason I try to post as many photos as I can on my blog. To prove that I am a real person, that my daughter is real. Plus I just love bragging about her. My camera recently died, we need a new one so I can keep posting pics! :-)

I know someone, a very close relative of mine who has scammed online. Its so sad. The only reason I can see they do it other than gifts or money is for the attention. I truly believe some of these people have an illness. munchausen by internet which they need serious help for.

Glad you posted this, I hope people will listen. My little blog doesn't have many followers, but the ones I get I know are great people, and I am lucky that people read about my daughter, knowing she has even touched one life is just a blessing.

Jessi said...

Great post Nate. I too fell for the April Rose scam. I never once even thought that it was fake. I prayed for her and April Rose. Even when people started commenting saying that they thought it was all a scam, I chose to remain in the thought that it was real and they needed prayers so I kept praying. I was shocked that it was all a scam.

However I think we all need to sit back and realize that no matter how angry and hurt we are at this woman, she IS sick and needs prayers. No normal person does that.

Prayers for her are still needed.

It's Her said...

Another scam? That really saddens me. Just a note about 'possible' red flags (and I know you said many legit bloggers do this too, I'm just making a commment).

I never (or very rarely) give my family's names, where exactly I live, and I very rarely post photos of myself. I accept the internet is the internet, but at the same point, I don't feel it's my place to give details about my family out without their permission. I'm not AS open as you guys, but at the same time I like to share my story, you know?

Like I said before, I know you weren't making a blanket statement,I'm just saying it from my perspective :)

Connie Mae said...

It is so unbelievably sickening that people have to have a fake blog for some unknown reason. I do believe as Christians, we should pray for them. Only the Lord knows why they do what they do but when we claim to be Christians, we do need to pray! Also, just to let people know, there are many fake myspace and facebook accounts. I keep mine PRIVATE because I heard of some guy copying pictures from another account, made up his own and had a sob story about how he lost his wife right after the birth of their child. He posted pics of his wife and baby but never had any of the three or even of himself and the baby. Everyone must be aware that people out there are searching for something and will use anything to find it but all they have to do is look ABOVE, only HE can fill the void we feel we have in our lives! GOD loves us all equally. Thank you so much for posting this small list of "red flags"!! I am sure many can add more from experience. GOD IS GREAT AND GREATLY TO BE PRAISED and we CAN PRAISE HIM through our blogs so someone out there who is needing HIM, can see! Hope all is well with you and your beautiful girls!

Laura said...

I think you made very good points--things that I had never thought of before. It breaks my heart that people have become so invested in these blogs and the life of those profiled in them

purejoy said...

really great list of red flags. i think it's interesting, and a show of how experienced you are (because of the negative comments you more than likely have received) to spend a whole paragraph disclaiming. covering one's butt. things get taken so literally these days.
i was hurt by the blog you mentioned, i bought a tshirt and prayed. but much of what she eloquently wrote about God is true. she had an agenda, she was deceptive, but at least what she said about God and about treasuring life was true. i feel betrayed, and naive, but i'll get over it. i wouldn't want to be standing too near her for fear of an errant strike of lightning.

RoseGirl said...

Very well spoken (or written as the case may be!) Nate.

I had not followed this current blog, but did follow the one last year - mostly out of morbid curiosity - because I did think that something was off - too much drama and getting better cycles. Yes, there are always cycles with any illness, and I myself have been on death's door a few times - but, well, as we all found out, that particular blog was not true.

And I also agree with a lot of people here about the why's and wherefore's about why people blog the way they do. I myself have a caring bridge site. It is not listed with my real name, but if you subscribe to it to receive email update notifications, then you will know my real name - but it does require an action on the readers part to get that info - a little more accountability if you will. I just did not want anyone to be able to put my name into a search engine and come up with my blog. And my blog is set to private - although it wasn't in the beginning. It is easy to get caught up in the numbers of people who visit a blog (even though, it is usually a group of people who check the blog multiple times and not actually that many people.) and be blessed by sheer #'s potentially praying for a person. But, I had to take my blog down to a private setting - it had become a means for my own family to attack me and my faith (lets just say they are so NOT believers) and my "need for emotional support". Because of their complete lack of emotional maturity, being able to deal and cope with my illness and just plain meanness, I have been forced to to just have people who ask to have access to it.

On a side note, when my blog had a larger readership when it was completely open, it actually started to freak me out a little that people I had never met were leaving such intensely personal comments to me in the guestbook. And yet, I have made some lasting friends online through that. There is now a comfort that I know, to the best of my ability, exactly who is looking at and reading my blog.

All that to say, that yes, there are many reasons why people blog the way they do - and there are a lot of privacy concerns online. I have often prayed that the Lord would protect your family from all of the exposure - it can be intense and as you have witnessed, can bring a lot of unwelcome opinions and criticisms!

However, I do applaud everyone, including you guys, who have the guts to blog about their experiences with illness - it really does help to read about how others handle certain things and it s good to get beyond yourself and your own circumstances and spend quality time praying for others.

Okay - I think I have talked long enough! Again, thank you once again Nate, for putting your heart out there. It is an awesome responsibility that so many trust you - and yet such a praise from the Lord!

Continued blessings and prayers for you and your girls,

Amy
So. Cal.

Jared and Kate said...

Great post, Nathan! I know people get hurt by these fake blogs but I don't believe prayers and compassion are ever wasted. I would rather error on the side of caring for someone (even if their story isn't true) and praying than not.

Alice said...

Thanks for this post. I have been hurt by scammers before in the blog world and it makes me very careful about who I believe now. It is hard to get past the fact that I invested part of my life in their lie......prayers, time and energy....wasted on a lie.

I LOVE keeping up with you guys and what is going on in your lives....thanks for sharing your personal struggles as well as joyful moments.

Amy Lynn said...

What a fantastic, non-patronizing post. Refreshing.

Aspiemom said...

Yes, last years sham really impacted me and has made me less trusting.

Thanks, Nate. I hate having my picture taken, but I just put my picture on my blog so people don't question if I'm for real! Thanks a bunch! lol

Sarah said...

Great post.

Although I have not encountered fake blogs...as of yet. I have encountered trolls both on our blog and on a few support sites I visit. I also have had friends devistated by trolling and have tried to talk them into just deleting the troll. It's so hard sometimes I think to leave your emotions out of your blogging administration roll.

We have specifically taken out our last name and my husband's first name out of our blog. His name is more uncommon and I needed our blog to not be found by googling his name. My DH lost his job on the account of my son's health problems...and after he was still looking after several months I decided that just in case, possible employers are googling his name...I would have to take it out. It's sad but really there are many employers who would choose not to hire my husband because they don't want to have to pay for my son's medical costs. But everything else (my name, my children's names, all our pictures, what city we live in...is all there).

I've also encountered a few people...whose intent is good...I wouldn't call the trolls but seem to be a bit in the drama queen department and seem to make a problem worse than needed, and sometimes that does get a bit scary.

All in all a great post!

Holly said...

Fake blogs.. wow. Never knew. Thanks for the heads up.
Here's my blog and I actually raise funds for CF in Des Moines, IA - check out my latest fundraising idea!

http://www.cff.org/Great_Strides/HollyMoeller5424
http://deepthoughtsbyhmm.blogspot.com/

I enjoy your story and have been reading it for a very long time. I thank you for the hard work you put in to raising money and finding a cure for CF. WE WILL FIND ONE!
Sincerely,
Holly Moeller -Team Andrea's Angels

CFMama said...

Thanks for your advise. I will still continue to raise funds for the CFF through my site but feel like taking the "donate" button off after the recent events and your post. Thanks again, enjoy NJ (my neck of the woods)

a_weak_rose said...

Thanks for this post Nate.
I was duped by a fake blog two years ago.
As an eating disorder survivor I was caught up in a blog posted by an anorexic. She even had "pictures" of herself at 80 lbs, but she never showed her face. I wept with her, cried with her, worried when she was hopsitalized twice. . . and was devastated when someone finally exposed her.
I'm sorry to say, I often read real-life blogs, even yours or Angie's (bring the rain) with a bit of suspicion, wondering all the time, "is this real"??? But you're right - - instincts tell us ALOT and when I go with that, I usually can discern what is real and what isn't.

I rarely comment but I still pray for you guys alot!

Rochelle said...

Thanks for all this info; it's great! I hadn't even thought about anyone's blog being fake... never even crossed my mind, until the events of the past week unfolded. I appreciate this list you gave and it's helped me to think more thoroughly about what type of blogs I invest time in. Thanks!! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Nate for your insight.

Denise said...

I have two blogs using Blogger. One for information on fabrics, window treatments and upholstery and the other is a very personal dealing with a family issue.

The latter is what keeps me from disclosing myself and I am only doing it because it records the date and time and it may be needed down the road.

If I do a photo and Bio then Blogger "announces" both blogs. If Blogger were to change this method of letting readers know about both sites, then, I would be more comfortable. If there is already a way, I have not learned it.

Am I making sense?

But, I think one can always read the difference between a fake and a real. The fakes just don't live it and so many "clues" are missing for those who have lived the real.

Nate, I have followed you for over a year and I pray for you, Tricia and Gwyneth Rose. Yours is a beautiful story......and very moving.

Denise

The Beaver Bunch said...

Well said.

em's auntie said...

Great post.

Erin said...

i have to say you have responded to this and addressed the issue in one of the most respectable ways i've seen. i too was tricked by the blog and have been following the developments all week. very sad. i will be more skeptical from now on out. thank you for this post!

Anonymous said...

I haven't read all the comments and this may have been said. To those that feel so hurt and angry about being duped - it happens often - even the guy on the street asking for money may or may not need it - but when I feel called by God to answer a need, my response to that need is all that matters to me and is between me and God. What the recipient of my response does with my God called gift is between them and God. The woman that begged $20 off me a cab ride to get to her children, then walked across the parking lot and got into another car - that was between her and God and I did not feel any animosity toward her for lying to me - I felt called to do something and I responded. We can only control ourselves, our actions and our attitudes. Sharon

Amy said...

I was also dupped bu the blogger last year. I invested time and a wii bit of money to help her. Needless to say I was horrified when the truth came out.

I have no idea who this recent faker is but I am slightly curious...I've been racking my brain all day with blogs I read and I'm pretty sure its none of those thankfully.

It saddens me that people stoop to that level. I hope they can get help and work on their issues.

I've been very wary of new people I meet in cyberspace. I give the benefit of the doubt but their is still that little voice in my head that warns me to be careful. Of course once I get to know someone better that voice disappears :)

CFHusband said...

@Amy

To help avoid unwarranted suspicions and help you figure it out, the blog that was uncovered this week has been removed.

Lorri said...

Very good post. I would like to refer you to the article BlogHer ran called "Emotional Fraud Online." For your Christian reader, on my blog, I have posted some biblical guidelines for online confrontation.

I too first learned this kind of thing happens because I watched it occur in the breast cancer community that I am in.

Thanks for taking the time to educate your readers!

DogsDontPurr said...

One of my criteria for verifying a blog, is "Has anyone I know actually met this person?"

But even that is not fool proof. A friend of mine was scammed after following a particular blog for several years. He had phone conversations with the person. They exchanged pictures. He even met "supposed" relatives of the person.

Eventually, things started to unravel. Amazingly, the person came forward and admitted that it all had been faked. By that time, of course, the damage was done, and those who were following the blog were devastated.

Given that, though, I still try to be optimistic, while at the same time being skeptical and checking the facts.

I have met many fabulous people in person from connections made through blogging.

I've actually had a couple of bloggers stay at my house. One of my favorite "six degrees of separation" went something like this: I once met a blogger in Las Vegas, who is the sister of a blogger in Boston, who stayed with another blogger in Maine, who introduced her to a blogger from Texas, and I had a phone conversation with another blogger who is good friends with the first blogger......etc.!

Anyway, it seemed like there were so many connections, this person *had* to be real! So we took a chance when he asked to come stay with us for a week. Now we are total best friends. (And, as an aside, none of those people are blogging anymore!) Funny how that all worked out.

FourBoyJoy said...

Very level headed answer. It still stings a bit when you feel genuine concern for people. But still, great advice. I have been a lurker forever and LOVE your honesty and pictures.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Thank you so much for this post.

I assumed there were fake blogs out there but never imagined it was for financial gain.

Thank you for your insight.

Estelle said...

excellent post!! So glad you are not a faker! I would be devasted!

Becky said...

I just don't understand how someone can do something like what you are talking about. I follow two blogs at the present time. And I know they are true personal life experiences. Have been following you since the day Trica went into surgery for the baby. God works so wonderfully through your blog, and we don't need scammers to mess that up. Greed is a terrible thing.

Anonymous said...

Hey Nate,
I was shall we say a short term prayer warrior/follower of this recent scam blog. I left my comment of compassion/prayers when the blog first started on day one, and then once I did,I realized something wasn't right it.

So, I stopped my support right then and there. When another blogger I follow had given us an update that the said child was born and need of prayers. I returned to the blog to see what was going on. Then my dear friends, thats when I was horrified by some of the comments that were left behind.

I knew right there and then that my insticts were indeed correct. It was a scam!

Granted,i didn't absorb myself as deep into this blog as others did nor did i send the blogger any finacial funds.

However the one thing that did bother me the most is how someone can/could be so cold harded towards the emotional aspect toward the families that actually have/had a child with a similar illness or to those who lost a child due to the illness.

How could someone be so cruel and pour salt onto an open wound?

Forgiveness? yes, I can forgive this person. I hope and pray for them that they are finally seeking the psychological help that they need so that they will be able to overcome their troubled behavior.

For those of you who went further into depth,I think in time you will come to the same terms with this person for misleading you.

Please don't let this one individual stop you from supporting those families that are "genuine" and really do need your prayers and support.

God Bless,
~Darlene

Wesley's Mom said...

Why would someone invest time and energy into a fake blog? Makes no sense. You wrote a good post but I don't agree with you on everything though. I don't think you should necessarily post your full name or hometown, that seems like an invitation for the freaks of the world to come knocking on your door.

This is especially true when blogging about pregnancy and newborns. It's a good thing for people not to know where you are living and the hospital you're giving birth in. I think anyways.
I don't give out last names or locations ever and feel safer for doings so. Just my thoughts on the subject.

Cystic Gal said...

I just started a new blog, http://cysticgal.blogspot.com/ and I plan to keep it anonymous from the rest of my life (my work life and specific family life, for example) because while I write I don't want to feel like I'm writing about people who don't want to be written about. I want to share some anonymous thoughts so that I know I can be honest in my thoughts about my doctor, employer, family, friends (whether good thoughts or bad ones.) I'm concerned that people will think I'm a fake blog...)

I really admire your blog here though, and that you can be so open. :)

Best to you and your adorable family !!

-Cystic Gal.

Sandy M. said...

That is a great post! Very helpful. Thanks,

Sandy Manning
Plano, TX

Anonymous said...

Hmm...I have to say I more agree with the comment stating "when I feel called by God to answer a need, my response to that need is all that matters to me and is between me and God. What the recipient of my response does with my God called gift is between them and God" than with the overall post or comments. My personal blog is one of those with all the "red flags" and I chose to remain anonymous after having my private info hacked into in the past. The internet can be a very scary place. There is really no need for anyone to know my personal info. I do, however, have this plainly stated on my blog.

Gotz Family said...

I have been checking back to see if you would post on this fake blog. I started reading and praying for it when it was first posted but a little bit into it started getting the feeling it was fake and knew it would come out in the end. You can only be pregnant for so long- just last week I had checked for an update and knew she had to do something soon either deliver or come out as a fake. Because I had that "gut" instinct I started praying for the author of the blog instead of the situation.

Your blog is the first blog I started following but I knew your situation was real because a friend goes to church with good friends of your dad from the OC.

I post pictures on my blog but don't choose to post where we live and keep some details hidden. But I completely agree with you of the red flags and that it is usually more than 1 flag being raised not just one.

Grayquill said...

Interesting points - I am not sure I would have figured the money thing as a scam but makes sense.
Grayquill (an alias for sure)

Michelle said...

I had a gut feeling about the most recent one, but I had no clue on the older one. I guess I didn't know enough about the CF facts to understand that some of the information wasn't correct.

Excellent points!

Anonymous said...

thanks for posting this. you are so right. i agree as well...scary that people do this...jcn

winecat said...

Nate what a terrific post. I blog about my breast cancer experience but never ask for money (have directed readers to our Breast Care Center Integrative Health Center auction) but that's it.

I have no tolerance for ANY ONE who fakes, or prays on the weakness of a parent, child or caregiver of an ill person. That is just beyond the pale as far as I'm concerned.

Miranda @ Keeper of the Cheerios said...

That is such a sad thing that people do this but it's just the world we live in I guess. It's sad that it makes it hard to distinguish those that are being honest and need help from those that are scamming. You've got some really great advice here with some awesome guidelines. :)

Ginger said...

I think many people figured out that the latest scam blog was fake before it came out in the open. I agree with most of what you say but some of the things I don't: my blog does not have personal pictures, esp my kids due to my job and knowing that some of the 'clients' have internet access and read blogs (I work with Mentally Ill and Dangerous Clients). I have posted pictures but the boys faces are usually turned away or too dark to see detail. I have mentioned the state I am in as well as some of the cities I go to, but not my town. I blog for me and those of my friends who like to read my views on inane/mundane things. I also do prayer requests for friends and family as well as for some of the blogs I read. I do not think everyone or most everyone who does not show their face or name their kids/hometown is a scam/fake blog...At one point I did have a picture up on a previous blog then got a comment from one of the clients about it and that blog went away within the hour. I am not going to stop blogging but I am also not gonna put me or my kids/family in danger by doing personal information on a public blog.

CFHusband said...

Those who are saying that they disagree with me are really just misunderstanding me...I'll give this one more shot, and then, I don't care.

In the post, I was very purposeful to say:

"I do not believe that every blog that includes any or even all of these red flags is indeed fake."

"...I have no doubt that there are many authentic blogs out there that might include some or all of the red flags I just mentioned. I know of several blogs that I believe are legit whose authors maintain a high level or privacy, use multiple authors, and offer the opportunity for people to donate and support financially...there are some very good reasons to do those things, but they tend to be the exception, not the rule."

If you think you're disagreeing with something I've said, more than likely, you're simply taking it personal because you think I'm criticizing you for not posting pics, not sharing personal info, etc., when, in fact, I'm not criticizing you at all.

:)

Lynsey said...

it's one thing to blog because blogging takes time! But to FAKE blog...wow, some people have no lives. I know the recent one has been deeply defended by most people and she does deserve many prayers, but she also deserves some kind of punishment in my opinion. She lied, plain and simple.
Lynsey

Kat said...

This is a great post, but I do have to say that wantingto keep your full name a bit anonymous isn't such a bad thing. There are a lot of bad people on the internet and one may choose to keep their identity private simply out of desire to keep one's family safe.

Southern Belle said...

I found this post through a link on According to Nina. I had no idea there were fake blogs out there. I would definitely be very leary of a blog that asks for donations and/or money. However, I have an anonymous blog for various reasons. I like it because it's my little secret. I eventually plan on putting pictures up when I'm ready. However, I do respond to emails/giveaways/thank you notes with my real name. I don't think it's strange. Blogging is really public, and to me it's no different than a writer using a different pen name. That's just my opinion. I'm sorry that you encountered such a lousy, lame person. Because that's what people are who make fake blogs. Sorry, you had to deal with that and waste your time; because, time is precious=)