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The Perils Of Viral Charity

Karen Klein, a viciously bullied bus monitor whose story spawned a fundraising campaign that's topped $180k, deserves her vacation, or maybe even retirement. But the man who started the campaign is now promoting a fundraising campaign for himself. That's not how charity works, dude! UPDATED

Posted on June 21, 2012, at 11:37 a.m. ET

A video of the brutal bullying of Greece, New York, school bus monitor Karen Klein inspired Max Sidorov, an apparent friend of a friend of a friend of Klein's, to start an Indiegogo fundraising campaign to "Give Karen a Vacation." The initial goal was $5k, but in its first 24 hours, the fundraising total is nearing $200k. This isn't travel money anymore — it's retirement money.

Some Indiegogo users have expressed concern about Sidorov's lack of a relationship with Klein, but most outward signs have suggested that the campaign is above-board — Sidorov has apparently gotten in to touch with Klein via local news outlets, and she has expressed her gratitude. And then this happened:

Another Indiegogo user, Case Prince, has started a separate campaign for Sidorov (UPDATE: It's been taken down). The pitch is this:

Max Started the campaign that turned into a landslide of support for Karen Huff Klein and against bullying.. I feel Max deserves a small reward himself?...*

It's odd, but probably not inappropriate, for Prince to have started this campaign, and it doesn't seem to violate Indigogo's terms of use. But for Sidorov to then promote the campaign, as well as an Amazon listing for his diet book, as he did about an hour ago, crosses a line.

Sidorov's reward for helping Klein, if he needs one, is that he is the guy who helped Klein. The internet is not the Government of All Decency, and we don't owe Sidorov a karmic tax write-off.

I've reached out to Sidorov, Prince and Indiegogo. I'll update if I hear back.

UPDATE: Sidorov has deleted the post in question and replaced it with this:

The fundraiser for Sidorov has since been deleted (update x2: It's back!). The campaign for Klein, meanwhile, has passed $300k.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.