Bullied Teen Amanda Todd's Death Spurs Fake Fundraising Websites

PHOTO: Amanda Todd, 15, of Port Coquitlam, British Columbia posted a YouTube video on Sept. 7, 2012 chronicling years of bullying and struggling.
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Money-seeking vultures are attempting to profit from the enormous public outcry in support for bullied teen Amanda Todd by setting up fraudulent websites that claim to be fundraising for the girl's family.

"Taking advantage of a family's grief is despicable," Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Peter Thiessen said in a statement. "We want to get the word out that there is one real account and anyone who is interested can make a donation at any RBC branch to the Amanda Todd Trust Account."

Thiessen said that the intense attention to the case has led to a number of fake websites and accounts that say they are fundraising for the family.

Todd, 15, posted the video called "My story: Struggling, bullying, suicide, self harm" on Sept. 7 and was found dead in her home town of Port Coquitlam, British Columbia on Oct. 10. Since her death, the video has been viewed more than 4 million times.

Dozens of tribute pages for the teen have been created on Facebook. The most popular one has over one million supporters and several others have hundreds of thousands of supporters.

"The outpouring of support, emotion and information is literally overwhelming," Thiessen said. "The internet and social media were central to Amanda's story and they are central to our investigation as well."

Authorities are "sifting through thousands of tips" they have received since Todd's death.

"One of our big challenges right now, is false information that is being spread by people who appear to be trying to use Amanda's story to do harm or make a profit," Thiessen said in the release.

Police have opened a probe into Todd's death and "anyone that had contact with her" before she died. Of particular interest is a man who convinced Todd to flash her breasts, took a screen grab of the moment and used the photo to cyber-bully her for years.

Earlier this week, Anonymous, an online hacking and activist group, posted the name and address of a British Columbia man in his 30's who they claimed was the culprit.

Police called the allegation "unfounded" and said investigators had to spend "considerable" time responding to the rumors.

The man identified by Anonymous denied being her bully to the Vancouver Sun and pointed to a man in Wisconsin. Anonymous has since posted the name and address of the second man.

Thiessen urged "everyone who has been touched by Amanda's story" to respect her memory by being a responsible citizen of the Internet and thinking critically about information before passing it along.

In her video, Todd described using webcam chats to meet and talk to new people online as a seventh grade student, including a man who pressured her to flash her chest. One year later, she did and the man took a photo of her chest.

Todd said that the man put the photo online and sent it to everyone she knew. Even after moving towns and schools multiple times, the man continued to follow her online and use her photo, she said. The photo and the bullying online and in school drove her to depression, drugs, alcohol, cutting and a suicide attempt with bleach.

"I can never get that photo back," she wrote. "It's out there forever."

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