An ImportantGift or Clever OLPC Children's Machine XO Scam?

   
   
   
   
   

Since the beginning, One Laptop Per Child has actively discouraged both individual donations and individual sponsorship of OLPC Children's Machine XO laptops. From the OLPC Wiki where they say that only governments can buy laptops, and only then in units of 1 million, to Nicholas Negroponte's dismissal of Mike Liveright PledgeBank 2 for 1 pledge:

"This site had nothing to do with OLPC, was set up without our knowledge and was not a good idea. Well meaning people can create backfires."
In fact, while Negroponte promised eBay sales there still isn't a way to directly link any payment with a specific OLPC XO delivery.

That is unless you believe Changing The Present, a website run by ImportantGifts, Inc, which professes to be an organization that allows you to donate to multiple charities through their online catalog of charitable gift ideas. Of unique interest is their Equip Children: One Laptop Per Child page.

There, Changing The Present claims that your $160 dollar donation will:

go to underwrite the cost of getting laptops to groups of children throughout the developing world. With your support, we will distribute millions of the laptops beginning in 2007 -- in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. 2B1’s goal is to make learning a seamless part of the lives of children, intertwined with living, play and family life.

The One Laptop Per Child laptop is a flexible, networkable tool through which children explore, read, connect and learn. Using these laptops, with rechargeable batteries powered by a hand-crank, groups of as many as 60 children or more can connect with each other over a mesh network and pull lessons from a server packed with 200 gigabytes of instructional content. Children will be able to learn more quickly and effectively.

Following the link on their page to "OLPC Foundation", we find that:
The OLPC Foundation works to advance this initiative by raising money to purchase and distribute learning-driven laptops to children.

The OLPC Foundation
600 Lexington Ave, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10022
Phone : (212) 111-1111
Url : www.OLPCFoundation.org
EIN : 20-5471780

Now as you can tell, that phone number is fake but the link leads to a GoDaddy host filler page for a domain registered by Michail Bletsas of OLPC. There isn't anything about "OLPC Foundation" on the OLPC Wiki, but the last we heard the OLPC money raiser was called 2B1, not OLPC:

Nick: 2B1 or OLPC Foundation?
The 2B1 Foundation was re-launched this week. The name (conceived by Dimitri Negroponte about ten years ago) was used for a New York State 501(c)3 that was active until about 1999. Seymour Papert, Nicholas Negroponte and Dimitri were involved until it went dormant, serving only as a private foundation and modest venue to fund Cambodian Schools.

In its new form, technically called 2B1 Worldwide, it will be a Delaware public foundation, initially headed by Ashton Hawkins, based in New York City. It will become the entity to which charitable deductions, large and small, can be made.

So what might this Changing The Present site be? Would this be the Negroponte-endorsed retail donation mechanism for One Laptop Per Child, a somewhat inefficient and diluting channel when eBay, OLPC Wiki, and PayPal beckon? Might Nicholas Negroponte have abandoned 2B1 for OLPC as a foundation name like he tossed 2B1 for XO on the Children's Machine?

Or is Changing The Present the first of many organizations that will ask for donations, claiming to channel your largess into laptops for the developing world, but really just enriching themselves on OLPC hype?

Related Entries

12 Comments

I wonder how it could be determined for sure what is going on with Changing the Present. It sure sounds fishy to me.

Not just tech commentary, now the site is doing investigative journalism. Getting better all the time.

Our firm provides some professional services to Changing The Present, so I read your post with great interest.

ChangingThePresent is hardly enriching itself. As you'll see on their site, their transaction fee is just 3% and 30 cents; that barely covers the credit card fee.

The information on the site was all provided by the respective nonprofits.

The ChangingThePresent FAQ ( http://www.changingthepresent.org/faqs#faq_10 ) also explains that the nonprofits listed must agree to certain conditions, such as the accurate representation of the donation opportunity and the use of funds.

We will direct your questions to OLPC and will ask them to correct any inaccuracies.

Looks like someone very quickly removed the information off the Changing The Present website.
None of those links work now.

Geekcorps people
Staff

We have program staff in the Washington, DC headquarters of the International Executive Service Corps (IESC) and full-time field staff managing our large country programs.

Washington, DC:

* Wayan Vota, Geekcorps Director

Wayan Vota is a technology expert with a decade of experience in technology project design, implementation, and management in developing as well as developed economies. He is the Director of IESC Geekcorps, which partners with government and private clients to increase global economic development, using information and communication technologies. Prior to IESC, Mr. Vota led technology projects with public, private, and governmental organizations such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, IBM, the National Council of Nonprofit Associations, and the United States Peace Corps.

Geekcorps has partnered with Intel Emerging Markets Group in Intel’s “Discover the PC” initiative focused on delivering products and technologies that are specifically designed to meet the unique needs of people in emerging markets.

Hey Wayan, how exactly does someone who works for Intel, a rival of the OLPC project and AMD stay objective when it comes to said project?

"Hey Wayan, how exactly does someone who works for Intel, a rival of the OLPC project and AMD stay objective when it comes to said project?"
He doesn't. Instead, he tries to throw up smoke and flee like a ninja, but he just doesn't have the skills.

This site really smells bad. Please dont play dirty.

Ah, here come the conspiracy theories! That somehow OLPC News is directly related to my day-job. That this is a giant anti-OLPC conspiracy.

Ah Xero, you are so much fun. I especially like the post on your site where you think someone hired me to write OLPC News. If only!

Keep it coming, I love the humor, because everyone who actually knows international development, or Intel, or me, or anything really, is having a great laugh at your ideas.

Robert,

You're right. It seems Changing The Present didn't have the full approval of OLPC to represent itself as a bona fide XO charity recipient.

And what does OLPC News get for exposing this scam? Chris Blizzard claiming Astroturf.

Like _anyone_ could pay me for this!

http://www2.knightfdn.org/apply/letter/ein_lookup.aspx

IRS Employer Federal Tax ID (EIN) Lookup

We couldn't locate an organization matching EIN: 205471780.
=====
The OLPC Foundation page has vanished from ChangingThePresent. I saved the Google cache for further inquiry.

The whole thing looks real fake.

Robert:

'Our firm provides some professional services to Changing The Present, so I read your post with great interest'

And what is your firm? Claims about Changing the Present are difficult to confirm. The fact that you refuse to reveal the identity of your firm, much less your personal identity, just makes me more suspicious.

Perhaps Changing the Present is entirely legitimate, but you have chosen a very odd way to try to persuade us of it.

Days ago the first models was showed in the CES show.. but this is the real one?. And even more, the notebook have the correspondent certificates?. For example the FCC in USA.

May be it's a poor done notebook?.

And i wonder how they can change the price from 100 to 130 dollars, it's 30% more expensive that the first price

For example if i was a president of a banana country and i want to buy 1 millions of this units, costing me = 100 millions (of dollars, no banana-dollars) total (how a poor country can obtain this sum for education?). But later Negroponte say that 100 millions is not enough and i must put other 30 millions because the raise of the costs. Even for a banana country i must talk with the senate or find some way to earn 30 millions extra, and in any case this extra expensive must be declared and justified, of course if i can take 30 millions without a explanation then i can take another 30 millions and put in my pockets ;-)

Anyways today :OLPC was 1 year later, have less specs, cost 30% more (or it's cost $140?).. and nobody has tested with the exception of subjetives users, kids are destructives by nature + a cheap notebook ...

I saw Mr Negroponte on many TV shows. I read about his great humanitarian works in People and other mags. After he hit 60 Minutes and offered his Give 1/Get 1 XO, I took the bait. I ordered a laptop for my grandson, happy that another child would also benefit. That was Dec 8th. Since then, any attempt I make to inquire about my order status has been a dead end. "Due to overwhelming response" is the reason for no response from either the OLPC website or its 800# (hold all you like; you'll never speak to a person). When I try to check my order status, the OLPC website disavows both my order number and my email address. All I want to know is WHEN, if ever, I will receive the laptop. Now I don't know if my grandson or the other child will "get one". I feel I've been scammed and I intend to file a complaint, online, with someone I know will respond. My State Attorney General. I feel that Negroponte has worked hard to generate "overwhelming response", but not so hard at delivering laptops!

XO Tablets for Sale

Buy Your XO Tablet on Amazon.com
OLPC is selling the new XO Tablets on Amazon.com for just $149. Buy yours today!

xo-tablet-amazon.jpg

Discussions

Recent Comments

Community Forum

Close