How to Spot GoFundMe Scams

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We’ve all heard the tragic story of 72 year of Grandpa Robert Godwin Sr who was shot in cold blood on Easter Sunday. The perpetrator, known as the Facebook Killer, posted the video of the killing on Facebook.

Within 24 hours of this horrible incident, at least 35 FAKE GoFundMe accounts were established! The worst part is that none of these were authorized by the family.

One campaign has raised nearly $91,000. The organizer is a college student from Arizona, with no ties to the family. He set up campaign after seeing it on the news. It SEEMS like fraud, but organizer says he’s “working with GoFundMe” to ensure the money gets to the family. It’s since been labeled “official” by GoFundMe spokesman. How would the ASU student have gotten the money he raised to the family if it hadn’t garnered so much publicity?

More importantly: what about the other 34 or so GoFundMe pages?

How can I identify fake GoFundMe accounts?

GoFraudMe” is a website that helps identify fraudulent GoFundMe accounts, and it helps you learn how to identify them

Here are some red flags:

Look for Minimal details

What can you do to prevent yourself from falling for the scams?
• Look for specific details about recipient’s connection to victim/family
• Look for multiple images, ideally some including the organizer
• Better yet, look for a video posted by the organizer

See if images were pulled from the net

Find an image on a GoFunMe page and do a reverse image search with Google. If the image being used on the campaign is readily available online, be wary!
Here’s a guide that explains a fake GoFundMe and how to reverse image search to find a fake page, along with some other tips!

You don’t know the organizer and they don’t have an established “social presence”

Scammers often set up fake Facebook accounts to support their fake campaign. Here’s some ways to determine if it’s legit or not.
• Is the organizer’s Facebook account brand new?
• Do they have less than 40 “friends”?
If you said yes to any of these questions, then steer clear!

Lifehacker recommends contacting the organizer directly
You can do that by clicking on the little green envelope and sending them a message directly! Ask questions with specifics – fakers probably won’t reply, or give you vague answers.

What is GoFundMe’s stance on this?

“Donator Beware!”
GoFundMe says they can’t guarantee the validity of accounts, as there are hundreds of thousands of accounts set up each month.
However…GoFundMe started a “GoFundMe Guarantee” last year. They’ll refund up to $1000 to a donor that requests it for a campaign that GoFundMe deems fraudulent.

How can I help?

Using the tips we’ve outlined above, you can help out if you find a suspicious GoFundMe account by reporting suspicious accounts.
GoFundMe can place a hold on the campaign’s funds if they suspect the account may be fraudulent. You can also report suspicious accounts by clicking “Report Campaign” under the campaign description. There are set parameters for what constitutes fraud! So do NOT flag for fraud someone you just don’t like.

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About The Author: Andrea Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, a computer repair company that specializes in on-site and online service for homes and businesses. Andrea is the writer of a weekly column, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She prepares TV segments for and appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and CBS 13 News, offering viewers technology and lifestyle tips. See Andrea in action at callnerds.com/andrea/.

Video Transcript

Courtney: Really, it sucks that we even have to talk about this in the first place. Ryan, I mean, Robert Godwin, Senior shot to death on live Facebook Live. It was ridiculous and sickening in the first place that that even happened, but then you’ve got these trolls who decided that they wanna make the money off.

Ryan: Within 24 hours there were over 34, I’m sorry 35 GoFundMe accounts saying they were collecting money on behalf of the family, and the family said, “We had no part of this at all, nobody’s contacted us, nobody is collecting money on our behalf,” and contacted GoFundMe, and said, “Please take these down, these aren’t cool,” and unfortunately…

Courtney: But they weren’t taken down.

Ryan: They weren’t taken down because GoFundMe doesn’t verify the claim that you’re making or that you’re gonna do this. And so here’s the interesting story is an ASU student over in Arizona just said, “Hey, you know what this is something I can get involved with,” and so he put up a page, and it’s collected over $93,000.

Courtney: It’s a lot of money.

Ryan: Here’s the thing. We don’t know that was legit when he put it up there, he might have just been some college kid looking to make a little buck on the side. We don’t really know. Now, he’s gotten tons of media attention, of course, he says, “Absolutely I’m gonna give the money to the family.” but the family was not involved in setting up the page at all. They didn’t know about it until they were contacted by the media. So, there are four basic tips to finding out whether or not a GoFundMe is fake or not.

Courtney: Okay.

Ryan: Tip number one, you wanna steer clear of pages that don’t have a lot of information on them. So if they just got one picture, and just a couple of words probably not legit. So, the other thing you can do is take this picture here. This is a legitimate picture that somebody stole and put up, and then you go to Google’s image search, just go to images.google.com, upload the photo, and you’ll see everywhere that picture has ever been posted on the net, and you can trace back where it originally came from. So you can kinda go, “Oh, look at that, that’s a fake one.” Also, GoFundMe has now put in some protections. So up to a thousand dollars of donations. If you say that, “Hey, I think I have been taken advantage of and report the account, and they determine that the account was illegitimate, they’ll refund up to a thousand dollars of your donation. So it’s kinda cool they’re putting in some protections but keep in mind they’re not vetting anything as people are putting them up. So here’s a legitimate account, look at this, $241,000 they’re raising for some legal or for some medical bills for this young child here, and you can see, look at this pictures, lots of words.

Courtney: They keep you updated.

Ryan: All kinds of stuff going on here. So you can be, “Okay, this is probably legit.” Now. let’s say for some reason you are still not sure, you can contact this person directly, and say, “Hey, tell me about this person’s story.” Most of the fraudulent accounts, they’re not gonna respond or they’re gonna give you very minimal details, and so you wanna make sure you do that. Also, you can also report each account. Let me go back to that one page here. At the very bottom of this big description, there’s a little button at the bottom, where you can say whether or not you think it’s legit, and you can report it. And if you report it, the more people report it, the better it.

Courtney: Excellent, and the real thing is, if you can’t take it to the horse’s mouth, you have to kinda be a little skeptical about it.

Ryan: Yeah, I mean, if somebody calls you on the phone and says, “Hey, I’m collecting money for Facebook because of this terrible tragedy.” You’re gonna go, “No, I don’t think that’s legit,” but once you see Sally on Facebook share it with you, and you’re like, “I know Hope from high school, yeah, she’s totally cool.” You might think she vetted it. Well, let’s just be aware, make sure you check it out, report it if you think it’s illegitimate. Always, somebody is looking into it.

Courtney: Wow, crazy stuff. I can’t believe people do this but… So you have been forewarned to avoid those scams. Ryan, thanks so much for your coming…

Ryan: You’re welcome.

Courtney: …for sharing that knowledge. Appreciate it. All right guys, back over to you.

Anchor: Good things to watch out for.

Courtney: Yeah.

Anchor: Those are great. I liked that. All right, thanks, guys.