Update 4/18/17 12:00 p.m. EST: Pennsylvania State Police have confirmed alleged killer Steve Stephens has taken his own life after a brief pursuit.
Have you ever donated to a crowdfunding project? Sites like GoFundMe and Kickstarter allow people to donate funds to support a cause or help an inventor get a project off the ground.
There are some major problems with the concept of crowdfunding, though. For one, once you’ve contributed, you never know how your money is spent. Also, you may not realize it could be a fake account set up to capitalize on someone else’s tragic event.
What’s the latest crowdfunding scam?
If you’ve been paying attention to the news, you might be familiar with the horrific murder that happened yesterday in Cleveland, Ohio. A 74-year-old man, Robert Godwin, Sr., was shot and killed, and the gruesome murder was posted on Facebook by the alleged killer, 37-year-old Steve Stephens.
In another video posted to Facebook, Stephens claims to have killed 13 other people.
Now scammers are taking advantage of the Godwin family’s loss. Some people are creating GoFundMe pages, asking for donations to help with funeral costs.
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams is warning the public these are all scams. He said multiple crowdfunding pages have been created in Robert Godwin’s name, but they are all fraudulent. Here’s an example of one GoFundMe page that received over $24,000 in donations in just 15 hours:
The Godwin family has posted a statement on Facebook warning people not to donate to the fraudulent GoFundMe pages.
This terrible incident confirms that crowdfunding isn’t trustworthy enough to make contributions. Unless you know the person who set up the page or there’s a way to verify it’s not a fraud, it’s best to just stay away.