We’ve said it before, we will say it again: anyone can put up a fundraiser for any reason. Often, people mean well and wish to support family members of a deceased friend but in this particular case, a friend found herself on the wrong end of grieving family.
Savannah Rae Finn, 22, a student at Florida International University, was on rocks by Peterborg Point on the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Thomas with her boyfriend when strong waves washed them into the water at around 6pm on Sunday.
Her boyfriend was able to climb back onto the rocks and was rescued, but Finn, who was seen ‘face down’ and apparently ‘lifeless’ in the water by Chief Liston Thomas of St. Thomas Rescue, disappeared into the waves.
Her relatives have flown to the island to help the search for Finn. But since arriving they have accused her friends of fraud after the noticed their bid to raise $25,000 to ‘get her home’.
But the page has since been shut down and GoFundMe has refunded all those who gave money.
Screenshot of the fundraiser before it was removed from GoFundMe
It is unclear how the fundraiser’s owner determined the $25k goal, however Savannah’s stepmother says the family needed nothing but prayers.
The page initially read read: ‘We desperately need to get her home, which is a very costly endeaver [sic]. The money raised on this page will go towards bringing Savannah home to her family and friends. Please please help us.’
However Savannah’s stepmother Jackie Porter urged people to stop donating money and told those who had to demand a refund as they already had the costs covered.
She wrote: ‘This is Savannah’s stepmother of 10 year’s and Father. The entire immediate family including Savannah’s mother and two brothers are in St Thomas and do not need money to get family hotel. Airfare NOR get her home if the body is found. STOP donating money. Demand a refund if yiu do not get refunded within 24 hours report JENNA to Ft Lauderdale fraud department.’
In another post she said Finn’s family ‘only needs your prayers’ and urged people to donate to the unit on St. Thomas taking part in the rescue.
This particular case is a good reminder of the unregulated and sometimes unwanted nature of crowdfunding pages hastily thrown together in times of grief. There is no reason to believe the fundraiser owner hoped to profit off this tragedy, but sometimes it’s best to leave these matters to the family of the deceased. Just because you can slap up a GoFundMe after someone has died doesn’t mean you should.