Online crowdfunding pages have become the newest place to make charitable contributions as it’s a great way to get the word out for those in need of help. The easy access to these sites has been helpful, no doubt. However, this easy access has also led to some abusing the trust of these contributors by creating fake scenarios to dupe people. For example, this woman from New Jersey, as per Daily Mail.
Holly Garcia, a mother from Ocean County tried to fleece people of thousands of dollars after claiming that the money was for her 4-year-old son’s funeral.
Woman Charged with Creating Fictitious GoFundMe Campaigns Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina and Pemberton…Posted by Burlington County Prosecutor's Office on Thursday, October 8, 2020
According to the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, Holly Garcia had created multiple fake accounts on GoFundMe to trick people and get the money. A news release was posted on the Facebook page of the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office.
According to the release, the investigation began in June when a couple informed the authorities that a photo of the woman’s son “was being used in a GoFundMe campaign seeking $5,000 for funeral expenses for a child who had reportedly died from cancer.” However, the boy was very much alive.
The couple that reported the crime turned out to be the boy’s adoptive parents. They notified the authorities shortly after Garcia had signed away her parental rights.
The Facebook post also said, “Further investigation determined that Garcia had created multiple fictitious GoFundMe campaigns seeking money for the following: an urn for her dead son’s ashes; assistance for her 4-year-old son who is going blind in one eye (and whose father had died); assistance for her unborn child; a stroller for her two-month old son, who was born premature; and assistance raising rent money for an apartment, because she claimed she was four months pregnant and homeless.”
Authorities say that the total amount that Garcia asked for across pages was $11,350. They informed the crowdfunding platform, which subsequently shut down all the pages Garcia had started.
The woman was charged with Computer Criminal Activity (Second Degree) and Attempted Theft by Deception (Third Degree). She was taken into custody on September 24. However, she was released a little over a week later, following an appearance in Superior Court in Mount Holly. The case will be presented next in front of a grand jury.
The platform seems to have its fair share of fraudulent people. A couple, also from New Jersey, duped more than 14,000 victims out of more than $400,000. According to ABC News, Mark D’Amico and Katelyn McClure set up a GoFundMe campaign under the pretext of helping a homeless guy, Johnny Bobbitt, who later turned out to be in on the plan. Eventually, both McClure and Bobbitt ratted D’Amico out to be the mastermind behind the scam. GoFundMe eventually returned all the donations to the people who were duped.
In an interview with NBC News in 2019, the CEO of GoFundMe, Rob Solomon that a scheme wouldn’t work now because of safeguards the company has in place. He said, “We wouldn’t let the money leave the building, until we could figure out how to get the flow of funds to the beneficiary.” He said that they also have an around-the-clock operation i.e. “Trust and Safety Team”.