What are the legal ramifications of fake GoFundMes?

What are the legal ramifications of fake GoFundMes?
Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 4:06 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A fake fundraiser claiming to support the family of Eli Hill has been taken down. The 8-year-old Corbin boy died in a freak accident Monday night.

As the family was mourning their loss, someone created a fake GoFundMe to profit from his death.

In a statement to WKYT, GoFundMe confirmed that a fake fundraiser was created, claiming to support the family of Eli Hill.

“GoFundMe has zero tolerance for the misuse of our platform, and we cooperate with law enforcement investigations of those accused of wrongdoing. Our team acted quickly to remove the fundraiser, refund donors, and ban this account from using our platform for any future fundraisers. GoFundMe’s Giving Guarantee offers a full refund in the rare case when something isn’t right.”

GoFundMe spokesperson

The Whitley County Sheriff’s Office says they’re investigating the situation, but we don’t know how much money was raised.

Anything under $1,000 is considered a class A misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 12 months in jail.

Attorney Abe Mashni says creating a fraudulent fundraiser could also lead to federal penalties.

“Anytime you’re dealing with the internet and GoFundMe, you’re talking about money being transferred over state lines, and so that could bring the feds involved,” said Mashni

What if no money was ever withdrawn from GoFundMe? The creator of the fundraiser could still be charged.

“You could also do an attempt crime, and so it could be an attempt to theft by deceit,” said Mashni.

The severity of the charge ranges from a class A felony to a class B misdemeanor, depending on the amount of money attempted to be stolen.

GoFundMe says that users can report a fundraiser at any time if they have unanswered questions or concerns.