March 26, 2014

Fake Pistorius Facebook fund-raiser page taken down

PRETORIA (AFP) – A Facebook page claiming to raise money for South African sports star Oscar Pistorius during his murder trial and branded a fake by his communications team disappeared on Tuesday.

The “official” Oscar Pistorius page is sending supporters a message asking for funds to cover his legal fees during the highly-publicised court case, spokeswoman Anneliese Burgess said Tuesday.

Accessible early in the day, the bogus Facebook page appeared to have been taken down by Tuesday afternoon.

“They are soliciting money from unsuspecting ‘followers’ who have not yet come to understand that this page is run by an imposter pretending to be ‘TeamOscar’,” Burgess said in a statement.

“We have been trying to close this page down for weeks now, but have had no success with our direct approach to Facebook,” she added.

The message follows Pistorius’s announcement last week that he will sell the $465,000 (335,000 euro) home where he shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, to cover attorney fees said to be $9,000 a day.

“We are asking all Oscar Pistorius friends to find it in their heart to contribute financially. All payments will be paid back upon sale of property,” the fake message reads, according to the team.

AFP could not independently verify the message.

The online payment website quoted in the message said no donations had been attempted to the fake account, which has now been closed.

“No fraudulent donations have been processed and we have blacklisted the account, disabling it (and the user’s email address) from the system,” PayFast marketing manager Werner van Rooyen told AFP Tuesday.

The impostor page also asked people to leave a Twitter account dedicated to his murder trial — @OscarHardTruth — and follow a fake one instead.