Fake Crowdfunding: Dr Prashant Mishra Raises Questions On Alleged Nexus Between Platforms, Hospitals
Moneylife Digital Team 27 August 2022
Dr Prashant Mishra, a cardiac surgeon, who raised the alert on possible fraud in fundraising campaigns for medical treatment, has alleged a likely nexus between hospitals and fundraising platforms. In a series of tweets, he says that employees of crowdfunding platforms suggest hospitals to provide quotations with higher costs for medical treatment. 
 
Quoting his friend, whose name he has not revealed, Dr Mishra says, "...they raised Rs25 lakh for a critical patient via crowdfunding and hospital got Rs21 lakh - Rs4 lakh commission to the crowdfunding platform, what a business idea, asset-light business with good margin."
 
 
In another tweet, the cardiac surgeon says his other (doctor) friend said that one crowdfunding platform employee approached him for crowdfunding and was told to increase the cost of surgery for a hole in the heart to Rs4.50 lakh from the actual cost of Rs2.25 lakh.
 
 
Earlier also, Dr Mishra raised questions on fundraising at ballooned cost on Milaap platform. Responding to him, in a statement, the platform says, "We do not indulge in any kind of referrals whatsoever, not do we participate or influence medical advice, treatment costs, doctor recommendations, hospital admissions for patients or beneficiaries on our platform. Our experience has shown that the cost of treatment for critical ailments could vary from person to person based on one or more of the following factors. a) patient and their case history  b) what the treatment cost entails (eg. inclusive/exclusive pre and post-treatment costs) c) complications that may arise and d) choice and type of hospital and corresponding care plan."
 
"This is precisely the reason why we seek an estimate letter from the treating doctor or hospital since they know their patient's needs the best and put it in a public forum where not only donors but the general public can view, seek clarifications and make an informed decision to contribute," Milaap says.  
 
 
However, Dr Mishra says the statement from Milaap did not answer his basic question on inflated costs of treatment and subsequently higher amount of fundraising. "What about the case, a patient was discharged in July and fundraising started in August and no supporting documents uploaded. On what basis they started fundraising for Rs6 lakh?"
 
"In their statement, they wrote that they raise funds according to estimate letter from hospitals, so is it not their responsibility to see that estimate is according to other standard hospitals? I can give any estimate from my hospital, so is it not misuse of donors money?" the cardiac surgeon from Mumbai asks.
 
 
Many people have responded to Dr Mishra's post by raising the issue of charges levied by crowdfunding platforms like Ketto and Milaap. 
 
 
Milaap, however, says it has a zero per cent platform fee. "We rely on the generosity of our users to power the platform," it says.
 
Ketto, on the other hand has three different pricing plans for raising funds from its platform. The charges are called 'Ketto success fee' and vary between zero and 5%. For the 5% premium, Ketto offers some value-added services to the fundraises, such as social media outreach, content curation, campaign manager and matching donations. 
 
On both platforms, there is a payment gateway fee of about 3% on the donation amount. 
 
However, Milaap says, "Similar to donations, we work with many remittance providers to transfer funds (UPI, IMPS, NEFT, RTGS, international wire transfers) swiftly and securely. While these providers charge a fee for their service, currently, Milaap is covering for this without passing it to the organizers. This means there are NO charges to withdraw funds."
 
Twitterati is also talking about endless calls and messages from these crowdfunding platforms once you donate some money there. 
 
Nimish Jhingan says, "Never used crowdfunding to donate until 2021. I also received unsolicited automated messages and desperate calls by sales representatives for monthly contributions (on the platform).
 
 
 
 
As reported by Moneylife, Dr Mishra has raised frauds taking place in the name of crowdfunding for medical treatment. As a practising doctor, he pointed out that in many cases, the surgeries for which funds were raised were either simple or being conducted free in large hospitals. But, even in the case of private hospitals, the funds being raised were as much as three to four times what would be the total cost of surgery. (Read: Fraud Alert: Fake Crowdfunding)
 
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