Back in December, Sheila Hamner, a 74 year old woman was killed in her Fort Pierce home and her son Kenny was badly injured.
Filled with sympathy for the tragedy, coworkers did what so many people today, and created a GoFundMe page for the son.
Quite naturally, people were horrified and support poured in not only from friends and family but from total strangers too, and within 3 weeks, over $6,000 had been raised.
However, all was not as it seemed, and Kenny has been arrested by St Lucie County Sherriff’s deputies for his mother’s murder.
The GoFundMe page was intended to help fund Sheila’s funeral and the medical bills for the injuries sustained by Kenny in the course of the murder.
St Lucie County Sherriff’s office now say they believe that the injuries Kenny sustained were in fact self-inflicted and after the news broke, angered donors to the site were demanding their money back, but the site had already been taken down and the funds paid to the family.
News Channel 5 have been trying to reach the creator of the page but getting no response.
Alan Crowetz Internet Security Expert for Ch5 news, and CEO of InfoStream, says everyone should be warned to make sure that the nature of a fund raising exercise on GoFundMe is totally legitimate before donating and the best way is if you know the person or if you research to see if there are news stories on the cause but in this particular case, it would all have checked out, he said.
GoFundMe has a policy in place to protect donors from scams. With evidence of deception or misuse, up to $1,000 can be retrieved.
Alan Crowetz says that in this case, the question is whether GoFundMe actually consider this case to have been a scam or not. He went on to say that most scams were where people make up fake causes to get people to donate, but in this particular case, the money did go where page creators said it would – to Kenny the son of the murder victim.
NewsChannel 5 did eventually manage to reach GoFundMe directly and after reviewing the case a spokesperson responded by email saying the GoFundMe will grant refunds to all donors. All monies had already been distributed to the family last month and GoFundMe did not know what the money was used for.
Alan Crowetz said the money will obviously not come from the family since t has already been distributer. It will come directly from GoFundMe and a communication has been sent to all donors directing them how claim a refund should they wish to do so.