"If there is a victim's report on scam we open a case, but if we see people standing in the street and asking money for something, we do not engage," press office of the police department says. It turns out that beggary is a legal profession within Ukrainian legislation.
Coordinator of the official voluntary project "Heart to heart" in Dnipropetrovsk region Mykhailo Tonkonogiy says that such "black" volunteers manage to "earn" up to 10 thousand hryvnias per day. "This money is not declared and it is impossible to prove that it has been collected. We do not have appropriate legislation regulating this kind of activity," Mykhailo says and adds that true volunteers work in the streets only once a year - within the action "Heart to heart".
Experienced volunteer Oksana Ganicheva admits she used to give money to young people collecting money for children's hospital #6, but she never thought it could have been a fraud. "Our organization has never collected money in the streets. If we need money to organizer a festival in a foster home, for example, we look for sponsors and ask for presents," Oksana says.
So, do we have to trust people collecting money for allegedly noble cause? To learn the answer ForUm has asked sponsors, MPs, police officers and lawyers:
Tetyana Yablonska, lawyer, human right activists:
- Is it possible to impose morality on the public by some law? I think it is not worth much talking about. I do not even imagine how you can protect people from such scammy volunteers. Even if a person asks to show the documents, which a legal volunteer must have, you can’t be sure they are official ones. Today it is possible to forge any document using printer.
I would say that seniors should be particularly careful with the volunteers. In any case, do not let anyone into the apartment. I do not take home care as volunteering, taking into account our society and scale of fraud. I believe that such people can be only from the inner circle. It is almost impossible to legalize voluntary work as it is impossible to see how people act within the law. I’ve just passed by the people standing with alike posters. I'll rather help some specific child, if I know it's true.
Anna Gulevska-Chernysh, director of the Ukrainian forum of donors:
- As we know, the law on "Charity and charitable organizations" came into force on February 3. One of its most important regulations is that charity support is defined as repayable, meaning if a beneficiary spends the received money not as planned or declared, he has to give it back.
However, the problem of this law is that it does not regulate the taxation of charity. Charity support is now considered as personal income, and a beneficiary must pay 15-17% of tax. Moreover, banks, which open accounts for beneficiaries, do not warm them about the tax.
Unfortunately, the law also does not protect from pseudo-beneficiaries. In western countries, for example, individuals are not allowed to collect means. Only special funds, which have appropriate licenses, can carry out such activity. I believe Ukraine should apply similar approach to the problem. It is important to act through banks and accounts, not to collect cash as we used to. Collecting cash is not a transparent process.
Moreover, our legislation does not regulate the activity of volunteers. Our society must to learn to appreciate the work of volunteers, who do a lot but ask nothing in return.
Andriy Bantser, UEFA EURO 2012 volunteer program manager:
- There is a law on volunteering № 5266. It provides for civilized conditions for volunteering within the consistent voluntary organizations. The law introduces the concept of a treaty on volunteering, compulsory insurance for a volunteer, etc.
I do not think that the introduction of certificates or cards for volunteers will affect fraud, since professional crooks will find ways to forge such documents or continue working without them. I believe that only the strengthening of criminal responsibility for such actions can make a difference.
Ihor Mykhalko, chief public relations officer of the Kyiv Interior Ministry department:
- The effective legislation does not ban begging alms. A person, who is standing somewhere, asking for money and does not involve infants in this, won’t be held liable. Should the law be changed? It’s better to ask MPs. Everything is permitted except what is prohibited. If a volunteer does not violate public order and does not commit criminal acts, what he may be detained for? If people find out that they were robbed, they should write a statement to the police. The police start investigation, search for these people and punish them. As for begging, it's not a crime.
Olga Skoryna, head of the legal department of the All-Ukrainian union on rights and safety of patients:
- In this case we must work on prevention, and mass media can play an important role in it. Covering scandals and frauds, mass media should warn people to check information before giving money. In fact, it is not difficult to control. Potential donors can contact beneficiaries directly to learn details of the situation. Legal volunteers and voluntary organizations give such contact information and have proper documents to prove their activity. Moreover, it is not difficult for volunteers to register their activity.
If you fell into a scam, do not hesitate to report to the law enforcement authorities. There are scammers working all over Ukraine, and they must be stopped. However, there have always been schemes and methods to cheat on the system. There is always a risk to trust wrong people. Just be prudent.
Volodymyr Oliynyk, deputy chair of the parliamentary committee on legality of law enforcement activities:
- There is an article "Fraud" in the Criminal Code, which regulates responsibility for money abuse. However, when people donate money in the street they do not register it officially, thus it is almost impossible to prove a fraud. From personal experience I can tell you that pseudo-volunteers first seek legal consultations to find loopholes in the legislation, sometimes they even find legal disguise for their activity.
Eduard Bagirov, human right activist, head of the public council of the Interior Ministry:
- Society does need volunteers, and state bodies must welcome and support voluntary movements and volunteers. I thank all volunteers who carry out their mission honestly and without seeking to profit. However, there are always people who want to take advantage of the situation, and there are certain voluntary movements I do not fully trust.
Though we have many regulatory bodies, including police, prosecutors' offices, Justice Ministry and the parliament, I believe our MPs should work out and adopt a law on voluntary activity. I would be glad to participate in a charity event if an information table explaining the purpose of this event includes guarantees of Justice Ministry or Ministry for social policy.
In turn, pseudo-volunteers who take advantage of people merely discredit the very idea of voluntary movement. The most awful thing is that because of such frequent frauds people might stop trusting any volunteers and participating in any charity events.
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