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  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 16, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buffalo, , gofundme, ,   

    NY warns of scams after tragedy in Buffalo 

     NY warns of scams after tragedy in Buffalo

    By Greg Collier

    By now, we’re sure you’ve heard of the tragedy that struck the state of New York over this past weekend. An 18-year-old gunman opened fire on a Buffalo supermarket. Before he could be apprehended, 13 people were shot and 10 of them were dead. 13 families are now probably scrambling to pay for either medical or funeral expenses due to the selfish actions of a maniac. Neither of these expenses has reasonable costs, even when it’s something that can be prepared for. When it’s a sudden and wanton attack of violence, the expenses become even more difficult to raise.

    Historically, when a tragedy like this occurs, victims’ families will often turn to crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe to try to mitigate some of the cost. Scammers are also well aware of this fact, and will often try to use the tragedy to start phony charities of their own to capitalize on such a catastrophe.

    The Attorney General’s Office in the state of New York, has issued a warning to residents they should be informed about these scams before they take hold. To better educate New York residents, the state has a website at CharitiesNYS.com that can tell New York residents if a charity is legitimate or not.

    Many fake charities will try to solicit you through emails, text, or phone call. They’ll have vague names like ‘the victims fund’, or something along those lines. Anytime you’re solicited by a charity that you haven’t heard of, it’s always best if you research them first before donating any money. You can also research the charity at Give.org which is also maintained by the BBB, or Charity Navigator. GoFundMe even has a page where you can donate to verified accounts of people who have been affected by the tragedy.

    In this time of crisis, we really need our donations going to the people who need them, rather than the pockets of scammers.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 20, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Gabby Petito, gofundme, ,   

    Phony GoFundMe pages set up for missing woman 

    By Greg Collier

    One of our mantras here is that there is no tragedy that scammers won’t take care of. They don’t care who they hurt in order to make a quick buck. In this case, it’s the family of 22-year-old Gabby Petito who went missing in Grand Teton National Park. Sadly, at the time of this writing, investigators believe they found her body. Her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, is considered a person of interest.

    Scammers have used the tragedy to set up phony GoFundMe pages to solicit unsuspecting good Samaritans who just want to help. According to one news report, four different fake GoFundMe pages were set up using Gabby Petito’s name. According to Gabby’s family, the only verified donation sites are this GoFundMe and a donation page at the John MacNamara foundation. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time we’ve posted about crime victims being used in GoFundMe scams. It’s horrible enough that these families are going through one of the worst tragedies that a family can endure, they don’t need these predatory scammers making things worse.

    We’re not saying that you shouldn’t donate to a charity or fundraiser to help out victims of a tragedy like this. What we are saying is to take a step back before you click that donate button. While it’s commendable that your heart wants you to help those in need as soon as possible, it’s an unfortunate fact that scammers will try to take advantage of that generosity. What you should do is make sure that GoFundMe page is legitimate by checking local news sources. Local news is great in getting the word out about legitimate crowdfunding accounts.

    At this time, we here at Geebo would like to extend our condolences to Gabby Petito’s family and friends.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 2, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , gofundme, , San Jose,   

    Scammers take advantage of another tragedy 

    Scammers take advantage of another tragedy

    By Greg Collier

    Last week there was yet another mass shooting in America. In San Jose, California, a 57-year-old man shot and killed eight people at a rail yard. The gunman was a rail yard employee who is said to have had a grudge against his workplace. Before police could apprehend the gunman, he took his own life. While the loss to the victims’ families can’t be measured in a dollar amount, many of them found themselves in immediate financial need. As has become common in these scenarios, many of the families set up GoFundMe pages as fundraisers for the families’ expenses. As has also become common, it didn’t take long for the scammers to move in.

    According to local news reports, the victims’ names had not even been made public yet before scammers started setting up phony GoFundMe pages. One scammer set up a GoFundMe using the name of someone who was not one of the victims while purporting to be for one of the victims. Another phony GoFundMe claiming to be for funeral services for one of the victims had already collected pledges before being shut down as a fraud.

    We’re not saying that you shouldn’t donate to a charity or fundraiser to help out victims of a tragedy like this. What we are saying is to take a step back before you click that donate button. While it’s commendable that your heart wants you to help those in need as soon as possible, it’s an unfortunate fact that scammers will try to take advantage of that generosity. We’re not even saying don’t use GoFundMe as they’ve worked with the victims families to verify their GoFundMe pages. A list of those pages can be found here. What we are saying is that you should do a little research before giving money to a fundraiser that could be taking money away from those who desperately need it.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 21, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , gofundme, , , school shooting   

    There’s no tragedy scammers won’t take advantage of 

    There's no tragedy scammers won't take advantage of

    By Greg Collier

    A few weeks ago, there was a school shooting at a middle school in Idaho. The shooter was a sixth grade student who allegedly took a gun out of her backpack and began firing. Before she was subdued by a teacher, the shooter had struck three other students. Thankfully, there were no fatalities, but the victims of the shooting might have to deal with medical bills for years to come. Due to the enormous cost of healthcare in this country, fundraisers are often started to lessen the financial impact victims have to endure. For example, more people are said to use the fundraising platform GoFundMe for medical expenses than any other reason to raise funds. Unfortunately, this also allows any scammer to set up a fundraiser in a victim’s name even though the victim won’t see any of the money.

    The Attorney General of Idaho has issued a warning about scam fundraisers that have popped up in the wake of the shooting. While the Attorney General has stated that there have been scams, he has not identified which particular scams are being used. However, it stands that there are scammers out there who have no qualms about diverting money that could go to help a shooting victim into their own pockets. Even if children had died at this shooting, we have no doubt that scammers would still have tried to take money from the victims’ families.

    If you are looking to donate money on a situation like this, there are steps you can take to not only protect yourself but to also make sure the money goes to those who truly need it. If a GoFundMe has been set up, the best place to find the legitimate GoFundMe campaign is through local news websites. Local news stations do a good job of making sure the GoFundMe link used in their articles is the correct one. Don’t respond to any unsolicited requests for donations over the phone or through emails. And if you plan on giving to an already existing charity, you can use the Better Business Bureau’s Give.org to aid you in your research on the legitimacy of charities.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 23, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , gofundme, ,   

    Scammers make fake GoFundMe for teen who died from scam 

    Scammers make fake GoFundMe for teen who died from scam

    By Greg Collier

    Tragedy recently struck a town in Upstate New York. A teenage boy fell victim to an extortion scam on social media. He had thought he met a girl who was interested in him on social media. The supposed girl convinced the boy to send compromising photos of himself. Instead, the girl was a blackmailer who threatened to make the pictures public if the boy didn’t pay the scammer $3500. When the teen refused to pay, the scammer kept sending threats. Under the pressure of the photos possibly being made public, the teen tragically took his own life.

    The teen’s parents started a GoFundMe after the teen’s passing. The money from the GoFundMe will be going to fund a scholarship to help kids with practical skills they can use later in life. However, it wasn’t bad enough that scammers essentially talked the teen into taking his own life. On top of that, there were scammers who started another GoFundMe using the teen’s name. Odds are it’s not the same scammer, but a family being victimized twice by scammers in such a matter is infuriating.

    If you have children who are avid social media users, you may want to warn them about this extortion scam. No family should ever have to lose a child to online scammers. You should also be careful what GoFundMe you donate to. While GoFundMe has good intentions, it can be a con artist’s playground. You should only donate to a GoFundMe if it comes from a reliable source like your local news or a trusted friend.

    And while we might sound like a broken record about this, it does show that are no depths that scammers won’t sink to. They only see tragedy as an opportunity to steal money.

     
  • Geebo 10:06 am on January 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , gofundme, ,   

    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.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on July 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , gofundme,   

    Hoax busting site Snopes facing financial shutdown 

    Hoax busting site Snopes facing financial shutdown

    The scourge of conspiracy theorists and urban legend believers everywhere, Snopes.com is facing a financial crisis that could result in the website shutting down. Snopes was started in 1994 by the married couple of Barbara and David Mikkelson, who created the site in order to have a resource where people could debunk urban legends. Prior to the internet, urban legends would break out in various pockets of the country and would spread like wildfire with nothing to stop them. Some of these tall tales have gone on to ruin the reputations of prominent regional figures. In 2014, the couple divorced with Barbara Mikkelson selling her half of the site to a digital media corporation and that is where Snopes’ current problems seems to have originated.

    Snopes is accusing this digital media company of cutting off its advertising revenue stream in a power struggle for ownership of the site. According to the website SaveSnopes.com

    Although we maintain editorial control (for now), the vendor will not relinquish the site’s hosting to our control, so we cannot modify the site, develop it, or — most crucially — place advertising on it. The vendor continues to insert their own ads and has been withholding the advertising revenue from us.

    Because of this Snopes is going the crowd funding route by trying to raise $500,000 on the fund-raising site GoFundMe. As of this writing, Snopes has raised close to $350,000 toward its goal.

    If Snopes were to close down, it’s almost a guarantee another site could rise from its ashes. However, none of them would have the cache and credibility Snopes does. Losing Snopes would not only embolden conspiracy theorists and partisan ‘news’ sites, it would also be a great loss of a plethora of investigative information that has had a big hand in trying to prevent ignorance on the internet.

     
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