Don’t Let GoFundMe Thieves Steal Your Heart

Don't let your heartstrings tie you up in a scam.

When tragedy strikes, you might ask yourself, “How can I help?”

Maybe you search for volunteer opportunities in your community, or maybe you donate money to a reputable charity or GoFundMe campaign.

Sadly, many lowlife scammers prey on the goodness of people’s hearts. Educate yourself and learn about modern-day con artists’ latest trick: the crowdfunding scam.

Keep reading to find out more about crowdfunding scams and how you can avoid falling victim to them.

What Is a GoFundMe Scam?

A crowdfunding scam operates on exploiting compassion as a rule of thumb.

“You as a consumer or customer look at the video and you become kind of convinced you feel like you want to do something,” said Nancy Deng, information systems professor at CSU Dominguez Hills. “You instantly click.”

With the advent of sites like GoFundMe, anyone can use the platform to share their story and explain why they might need help getting back on their feet. Although this platform has the potential to help millions, the seedy underbelly of humanity has tried to turn that kind of goodwill on its head.

“Whenever there is some sort of high-profile disaster, people think of ways to run scams,” said John Simpson, a consumer advocate for Consumer Watchdog. “They get $50,000, they spend $5,000 of it and decide they’re not going to do it anymore.”

Sniffing Out Scams

With the sophistication of these homegrown scams, it becomes increasingly more difficult to tell which crowdfunding attempts are legit and which are ludicrous. GoFundMe’s own terms and conditions expressly outline this, stating “You, as a Donor, must make the final determination as to the value and appropriateness of contributing to any Campaign, Campaign Organizer, or Charity.”

One way to help detect the real from the phony is by doing a little homework.

“Before you donate you need to know (who it’s going to) and for what purpose,” said Deng. “It’s generally better in that kind of case to give to someone well-established.”

Furthermore, see if there are any stories in the news or online that back up the campaign’s assertions.

The Bottom Line

Although there are instances where it can all go wrong, GoFundMe has definitely created a chance to do good. Since its inception, donors have raised more than $5 billion through the platform.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine whether the recipient has genuine intentions or not. Be wary and exercise caution before clicking ‘Donate.’

Click through to read about some of the biggest money scams of all time.