NJ proposes crowdfunding scam law after GoFundMe debacle

NJ proposes crowdfunding scam law after GoFundMe debacle

If you’ll recall, you may remember hearing a story in the news about a New Jersey couple who raised close to $500,000 on crowdfunding site GoFundMe in order to help a homeless veteran that they claimed showed them kindness in a time of distress. The story made national headlines and even resulted in the trio being interviewed on several national news reports. Then as the months went by after the story was initially reported it was discovered that most of the story was fake. The man was a homeless veteran but he was talked into the scam by the couple. Now, all three are facing charges of fraud. GoFundMe has stated that there is very little fraud on their platform and have refunded donors to the fraudulent campaign and vow to assist law enforcement when it comes to phony campaigns. Now, one New Jersey legislator is trying to make it so it never reaches that point.

New Jersey State Assemblyman Ron Dancer has introduced a bill that would increase the penalties for crowdfunding theft in the Garden State. The bill calls for a $500 fine for each fraudulent contribution collected. Considering how many people donated to the fraudulent campaign that could rack up a very hefty fine in no time. The bill also suggests that the money collected through fines could be used to assist New Jersey citizens who are in danger of losing their homes. While the law is noble in its intentions could it have unintended consequences? Could it be applied to failed campaigns on sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo if the campaign failed to deliver its promised product? If so then the bill would definitely need some fine tuning.

As far as consumers go, should you be wary of crowdfunding campaigns like this? Absolutely. While GoFundMe maintains that fraud is low on their platform that doesn’t mean it’s non-existent. If a story sounds too good to be true or farfetched it probably is. You don’t have to donate to a campaign just because everyone else is. While it’s important to be charitable when someone is down on their luck it’s just as important to protect yourself from being fleeced by a phony sob story.