VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Netizen misuses photos of tumor survivor for donation SCAM

A Facebook (FB) user is misusing photos of a woman who lost an eye from a tumor, duping netizens into giving her money. From Dec. 3 to 7, the account, going by the name “Annielyn Manzanilla,” published photos in at least five buy and sell FB groups showing “Maria Nena Manzanilla” whom she said was her mother. She is seeking financial assistance for her medicinal needs and provided bank details.

The posts are not true. The woman in the photos is Rosita Monteclar, a 60-year old scavenger from Parañaque City who lost her right eye from a tumor in 2017. Her story was featured last November in GMA News and Public Affairs program Reporter’s Notebook, where she was shown receiving basic medical services from Ospital ng Parañaque and the Philippine General Hospital.

Netizen misuses photos of tumor survivor for donation SCAM

A reverse image search revealed that the earliest retrievable copy of the photos used in Manzanilla’s bogus posts were uploaded by another netizen on June 10. The earlier post called for donations for Monteclar and sought help from public service television programs, albeit slightly misspelling her name as “Rocita Monticlar.”

Netizen uses photos of tumor survivor to SCAM social media users

In a statement sent to VERA Files, the Reporter’s Notebook team said: “We were tagged by friends who knew Lola Rosita from our episode and were suspicious of the different information stated on Annielyn’s post. We called the number… but the call was barred.”

The public affairs program issued a public statement on Dec. 8 clarifying that they did not share Monteclar’s bank details in their feature. The poser account’s post, however, bears out bank details for a local bank and virtual wallet G-Cash.

A separate FB post by a member of the Reporter’s Notebook team also stated that Monteclar herself confirmed with them that Manzanilla is neither her relative nor an acquaintance.

The public groups where Manzanilla published the bogus posts are RIZAL BUY N SELL, bentahan ng mga murang sasakyan (kotse at motor etc.), Laguna Buy And Sell (biñan,sta.rosa,san pedro,cabuyao), SAN JOSE NUEVA ECIJA BUY AND SELL, and Buy and Sell Batangas Province.

They collectively received 148 comments, 119 shares, and over 1,200 reactions.

(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)