Avoiding GoFundMe fraud

GoFraudMe Reader Survey: How Can GoFundMe Improve?

GoFundMe safety

ICYMI, last month we asked GoFraudMe readers to share their thoughts on the safety of personal crowdfunding. Some of the results were surprising — 62% of respondents said they had given to a GoFundMe campaign in the past and a third of those said they would do so again — while others were completely expected; GoFundMe received a trustworthiness score of just 2.23 out of 5. Only 4% of respondents agreed with GoFundMe’s own assessment that fraud is a rare occurrence on its platform and only happens in less than one tenth of one percent of all campaigns.

One question we made sure to ask, being the helpful sort and all, is what our readers think GoFundMe could do to help potential donors feel safer on the platform. Here are just a few of the suggestions.

“Gofundme needs to pay attention when someone reports a campaign as fraud”

As anyone who has ever tried to report a GoFundMe campaign knows, it isn’t easy. Sure, it seems easy when your mouse pointer is hovering over the report button, but then you’ve got to get through the labyrinth¬† leading to the actual report form. We hear from individuals almost daily who are — understandably — frustrated with the reporting process, and often with the response from GoFundMe.

“I think that only legal next of kin or people themselves should be able to ask for money when someone dies”

This. This so much. Funeral fundraisers currently make up 17% of all campaigns on GoFundMe. Often, these campaigns are started by distant relatives of the deceased, or even total strangers who happened to read a news story about the death. If you check out the funeral cases on our GoFundMe fraud tracker, you’ll find accusations of others running off with funeral funds aren’t all that rare. Although it’s unlikely GoFundMe would be willing or even able to stop random individuals from firing up funeral fundraisers for anyone, what they can do is require funds be released only to the person who signed the death certificate. It isn’t 100% foolproof, but it would certainly eliminate a large number of these GoFundMe and run cases.

“Stop being greedy fucks”

*snort* No comment.

“Verify campaigns. Require donations to go directly to the person owe (funeral home, hospital etc)”

This is a fantastic idea, though the logistics may be fuzzy. If organizations like Help Hope Live can do it, then it’s certainly not un-doable. Making payouts less about individuals and more about paying down expenses directly makes a lot of sense, and again would certainly reduce the chances funds will be diverted or misused. One reader suggested 3rd parties be removed completely, meaning anyone can raise money but that money is only released to the person for whom money is being raised, or to the institution billing that person for medical care, vet costs, etc.

“Tell me when the person benefiting from the campaign has control of the funds”

This one is interesting. It would be useful if, say, a donor has given to a campaign started by one person to benefit another. Knowing the funds have been transferred to the campaign organizer would add another layer of transparency to the process. If you gave to a friend’s campaign, after receiving notification that the funds have been withdrawn, you could then ask your friend if they got the money. Boom.

“Money back guarantee if the funds are misused in any way, shape, or form. Period.”

GoFundMe has already shifted gears on this one. Whereas in previous cases of misuse or outright fraud they would simply shrug and say there was nothing to do once the funds were transferred, there have been a few cases of them issuing refunds to donors in the case of fraud this year. However, donors are still greeted with this message on the “Donate” page of every campaign.

People you know and trust

Overall, many survey respondents requested some type of assurance that funds would be used for the stated purpose. Vetting campaigns before funds can be raised would certainly cut down on the fakes, but implementing something like that is likely impossible with a new GoFundMe campaign started every 18 seconds. Others were adamant that funds be released only to the stated beneficiary. Still others — bless my cold black heart — said we should get rid of GoFundMe altogether. “Why allow people to cyber beg for stupid things, it’s starting to become a real racket!” said one.

If you missed out on the survey, it’s not too late to add your $0.02; join the conversation on our Facebook page, or leave it in the comments below.

Safe crowdfunding, y’all!

 

 

 

1 Comment

  1. someguy

    Screw facebag!
    And screw all those that use gofundme to commit fraud and abuse.
    ‘Abuse’, being those that decide to whine in public and expect society to absorb the cost of buying them a new car, send them to a foreign country, or even pay for their education…when in 99% of the cases those whiners would never spend a single penny on total strangers.

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