16 Nov

GoFundMe Fraud (Again)

Things aren’t always as they seem. I’m often suspicious. It’s a hazard of being a fraud investigator. But sometimes we’re not even suspicious of the right things.

Take the situation involving the homeless man (Johnny Bobbit Jr.) who allegedly gave his last $20 to Kate McClure when she became stranded on a roadside with no gas in her car. She and her boyfriend Mark D’Amico started a GoFundMe that ultimately raised over $400,000.

And now Bobbit, McClure, and D’Amico are being charged with fraud because the whole thing was apparently made up. Police went over more than 60,000 text messages sent by McClure and D’Amico, and this one from McClure to a friend of hers has the punch line:

OK, so wait, the gas part is completely made up but the guy isn’t. I had to make something up so people will feel bad.

After GoFundMe took their cut, there was about $367,000 left, and all of it was spent.

There are a few lessons here:

  • GoFundMe doesn’t care if campaigns are fraudulent or not. They make a lot of money from the campaigns and aren’t inclined to shut them down. Read more about this at GoFraudMe.com
  • Be suspicious of fundraising campaigns, especially when you don’t know the people involved. How do you know that the cause is legitimate? How do you know the funds will be spent as claimed? Who is safeguarding the funds?
  • When in doubt, donate your money to legitimate charities with missions that you support.

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