Seeking monetary help through social media has emerged as a new phenomenon, with fraudsters often taking advantage of people's empathy and goodwill with false claims.
In a recent report, local Arabic daily Arrayah said as security initiatives have made it difficult to seek alms in public, the practice of begging has started going online - with social media being the medium of choice.
Those involved are often fraudsters who trick their sympathetic victims into sending them some money, claiming that they are in dire need of cash to pay their rent or for some treatment and medication, clear debts or for other urgent reasons. Mostly they use emails, WhatsApp, Facebook and other online means to prey on potential victims.
Experts in the field strongly recommended that such messages be ignored and the sender should be blocked, especially in view of the fact that the country has a good number of authorised charities that are ready to offer support and assistance to the needy, according to the daily.
They also stressed that the best way to spend charity money is to give it to such organisations and refer any person in need to these, as they are better equipped to deal with such cases.
Dr Sultan Ibrahim al-Hashimi, assistant dean at the College of Sharia and Islamic Studies at Qatar University, said using the Internet and social media for begging is a critical issue that needs to be further explored in accordance with the standards and rules set by Islamic law. He suggested that these messages and requests be forwarded to the designated phone numbers and emails of various charitable organisations in the country to check whether they are genuine requests for people in need and determine if they should be given aid or not.
Speaking to the daily, Ibrahim al-Rumaihi said 'e-begging' has become a daily phenomenon on social media and messages pertaining to people seeking monetary help also come from other countries around the world. Such messages contain fabricated stories of suffering in order to trick the recipient into offering money.
However, people should try to avoid such messages and never respond to them as it is clear that such stories are false and tailored with the aim of gaining sympathy.
Saleh Rashid al-Jarallah, a Qatari man who has gone through a similar experience, said he receives messages seeking aid from different people in other countries - who claim to be in dire need of help.
In one such case, a woman claimed that she was a widow with a number of children and needed $10,000 to pay off her debts and be able to raise her kids. One of his friends sympathised with the woman and transferred the sum to her. However, the victim soon discovered that it was a trick and such scams were often the handiwork of specialised gangs, the report added.