The Chinese public has been thrust onto an emotional roller coaster as they found out a father who had been seeking help online to cure his 5-year-old daughter with leukemia actually owns three apartments, and most of the medical costs are covered by insurance.
Luo Er, a former employee of a Shenzhen-based magazine, told the Beijing Youth Daily on Wednesday that he had closed the cash reward function of his WeChat public account and would return the money to those who suspect him of fraud.
Luo had received 2 million yuan ($300,000) in donations.
An article published on the WeChat public account of Shenzhen-based financial service company Xiaotongren on Sunday said Luo's daughter was placed in the intensive care unit of Shenzhen Children's Hospital. The treatment cost Luo over 10,000 yuan a day, which his family could not afford.
The article had been shared about 130,000 times and received over 101,000 cash donations as of Wednesday afternoon. The company said it would donate one yuan to Luo for every share, the Chongqing Morning Post reported.
However, some WeChat users who claimed to know Luo said he owns three houses in Shenzhen and Dongguan in Guangdong Province. His daughter's treatment cost 5,000 yuan a day, and they criticized him for exaggerating his expenses and making use of people's goodness.
According to a statement on the hospital's Weibo account, Luo had spent about 36,000 yuan since September, when his daughter was diagnosed with leukemia - and that his medical insurance covered the other 170,000 yuan.
Deng Guosheng, director of the Nongovernmental Organization Research Center at Tsinghua University, said that Luo was suspected of fraud, assuming the hospital's statement is accurate. He said that the Chinese public will be more careful about donating because fabricating information and cheating the public are considered taboo in public financing.
A China Charity Alliance report released on Tuesday shows four leading public financing platforms in China raised nearly a billion yuan in 2015, a 127 percent year-on-year increase.