There must be something in the water, because stories about scam viral fund-raising schemes are everywhere this week.First there was the waitress from New Jersey who is being accused of lying about discrimination, and now this alleged poverty essay scam. Remember that beautiful essay from writer Linda Walther Tirado about the perils of poverty, “Why I Make Terrible Decisions,” or “Poverty Thoughts”? Well, as touching as it was, media sources are now claiming that it was all a lie to garner attention and donations.
I first read the essay on Tirado’s Kinja page, and I will admit I was moved. It was portrayed to the reader as a look at Tirado’s life as a poverty stricken mom of two, supposedly living in seedy, roach infested motels with no place to cook for her family, forcing them to live off of junk food. Tirado also claimed that she was working two jobs and going to college to try to better her life. She described being banished to the back of the kitchen at one job due to her insightly teeth, which she wasn’t able to fix due to being so very, very poor. The whole thing reminded me of a Dickens novel. And the worst part is, it’s reportedly all lies.
Tirado, known as “KillerMartinis” online, is apparently not poor at all. Actually, not only is she “not poor,” but she attended a posh boarding school and had a relatively wealthy upbringing. This wouldn’t be so bad (I would guess that 2/3 of everyone you encounter online is full of shit) if she wasn’t also collecting donations to alleviate her made up woes on GoFundMe.com.
Of course, now that the cat if out of the bad, Tirado is backtracking like you wouldn’t believe. As well she should be, as she didn’t even try to hide her lies that well. A quick look at her LinkedIn profile reveals that she’s been a political consultant (admittedly a freelance one) since 2010, and has been active in politics since 2004. A claim that is backed up by numerous connections on the site. Sure doesn’t sound like degrading kitchen work to me. Here is a screenshot of her explanation, straight from Kinja:
She also owns a home, a fact that in and of itself wouldn’t negate her claims of poverty (plenty of homeowners find themselves impoverished later on) but it certainly makes her claims of living in seedy hotels seem far-fetched.And none of this (easily accessed) information is mentioned in her recent disclaimer, or the subsequent ones.
To date, Tirado has received over $62,000 in donations via her GoFundMe page, the majority from people who most likely have no idea about the truth.
I’m not trying to say that someone with a privileged upbringing can’t possible understand poverty, though there is certainly an argument to be made there. What I’m saying is that someone like Tirado cannot and should not try to be a spokesperson for the issue. I hope people stop sending her money now that the info is out. And I hope she grows a conscience and donates the money to ACTUAL people in need. But I won’t hold my breath.