Bullied Teen Amanda Todd's Death Spurs Fake Fundraising Websites

Amanda Todd, 15, chronicled years of bullying in a viral YouTube video.

October 18, 2012, 10:05 AM

Oct. 18, 2012 — -- 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."

Teenager Documents Bullying and Abuse Before Her Death

Authorities have not officially called the death a suicide, but Cpl. Jamie Chung of the Coquitlam Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a statement earlier this week, "At this time it has been determined that the teen's death was not suspicious in nature and that foul play was not a factor."

The nearly nine-minute, black and white video showed Todd silently telling her story through a series of white cards with black marker writing on them. She can only be seen from her nose down for most of the video, occasionally moving around so that her face is visible.

"Hello, I've decided to tell you about my never ending story," the video begins.

She described the events leading up to the photo of her chest and how she felt after the photo was posted online.

"I then got really sick and got anxiety, major depression and panic disorders," she wrote. "I then moved and got into drugs and alcohol."

She described being called names, eating lunch alone and resorting to cutting herself. She also told the story of an incident where she made a "huge mistake" and "hooked up" with a boy at her school who had a girlfriend, but who she believed really liked her, which led to being beaten up at school.

Todd said she "wanted to die so bad" when her dad found her in a ditch. She drank bleach when she went home and had to be rushed to the hospital to have her stomach pumped, she said.

"After I got home, all I saw was on Facebook--'She deserved it. Did you wash the mud out of your hair? I hope she's dead,'" she wrote.

Todd said in her video that she did not want to press charges against the girl who beat her up because she wanted to move on when she moved to another city and school.

She moved to another school in another city, but said the torture followed her through Facebook. Students posted photos of ditches and suggested she try another bleach.

Todd was in the tenth grade at the Coquitlam Alternate Basic Education School when she died. School officials would not release the name of her previous school.

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