Go Fraud Me: How to tell if a crowdfunding campaign is legit - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Go Fraud Me: How to tell if a crowdfunding campaign is legit

(WTOL) -

Joy Youster lost her 32-year-old son, Ryan Langendorfer, in late September after a series of health complications from a non-alcohol related liver transplant. 

"He didn't give up. Not until the very end."

Saddled with grief and financial hardship, Joy had little money to give Ryan a proper burial. 

So she used the popular charitable crowdfunding website, GoFundMe, to raise money for his funeral expenses. The site allows anyone to donate small amounts to charitable causes.

Youster ended up raising more than $2,000 in just a few weeks!

"Going through a difficult time and knowing you have so many friends and family who've been supportive... It's been pretty amazing," said Youster.

But not everyone raising money online has a legit cause. 

Few can forget the North Baltimore woman who faked cancer, raising nearly $5,000 online for phony medical treatment.

But she isn't the only one who's forged a reason to capitalize on bleeding hearts with open wallets.

WIBW out of Topeka, Kansas reported on a scam earlier this year where a so-called family friend collected $13,000 on GoFundMe for a mother who lost her child in a car accident.

There are even online support groups, including a Facebook page called GoFraudMe, where people from around the country share experiences with dishonest crowdfunding campaigns. The scams range from faking an illness to posing as a grieving family member to collect donations.

Sergeant Joe Heffernan with the Toledo Police Department it can be easy to avoid a scam.

“Sometimes just a few minutes of research on your computer could prevent you from making a big mistake,” said Heffernan.

He suggests Googling a person’s name or looking them up on Facebook before donating. He says that often times you may find comments from others online outing the scam.

And if something doesn’t seem right—speak up.

"We also need someone to call us,” said Heffernan. “Call the police if you think you're being scammed by a charity online."

WTOL 11 reached out to GoFundMe to find out how the company polices for scammers on its site.

They provided the following statement:

"Go fund me investigates every single complaint of fraudulent activity that we receive. In the rare event that we do find fraudulent activity, we have the power to remove the account, refund donors and ban the user from signing up again."

Of course, most of the money being raised is going to a worthy cause.

For Joy Youster, the funds she raised through GoFundMe not only helped her bury her son but will also go towards continuing his legacy. She plans to donate the left-over money to the Liver Foundation and Donate Life Ohio. 

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