We have been all over the Pulse nightclub shooting like white on rice, knowing as we do that a tragedy such as this is a breeding ground for sketchy scammers to make a quick buck. It’s worth noting, however, that both the Florida attorney general’s office and GoFundMe are working overtime to verify the legitimacy of any campaigns — which means you’re more likely to get ripped off by a non-Pulse fundraiser, as it’s unlikely GoFundMe is going to let this cash cow taint their good name.
That fact isn’t stopping people from putting up fraudulent fundraisers, but they aren’t getting very far.
Like many, Kristen Garcia awoke Sunday to the terrible news that a single gunman had killed 49 people at an Orlando gay nightclub.
As she tried to wrap her head around the sheer number of dead and wounded, the Baldwin Park woman then received another shock when she learned someone had used her younger brother’s photo to create a fraudulent GoFundMe account, claiming the young man was a victim of the despicable attack.
“When I looked it up, I immediately felt disgusted,” said Garcia. “How could someone use such a tragic event only a few hours later, to get money from people?”
In the photo was her brother, she did not want to release his name, smiling in the selfie, wearing what appears to be graduation garland around his neck.
Garcia believes the photograph was taken from his Instagram account.
“Hello my name is Maria Luruz,” read the post, which GoFundMe has since removed. “My son 21 year old Marcosonios Luzun was killed and shoot(sic) at Pulse nightclub because of a terror attack.”
The name Marcosonios Luzun was not among those identified as victims of the deadly attack.
Garcia, friends and family reported the account to GoFundMe, and it was taken down by the end of the day. It wasn’t immediately clear how much money was raised by the phony account in the short time it was operational.
If you or someone you know have been victimized by a phony GoFundMe campaign, please get in touch.