Funeral Costs, Inviting Fraud

GoFundMe As the New Obituary: These Funeral Fundraisers Need to Stop For Real

Gofundme campaign removed

As we witnessed tonight, a series of fake campaigns from just one individual — many of which were taken down within minutes of us reporting on it/giving GoFundMe a holla on Twitter — attempted to capitalize on personal tragedy and, worse, clean up under the pretense of alleged funeral expenses for a couple who recently died in San Antonio. A second fake campaign was put up by another fake person within moments of the first being taken down, and the fake person even had the audacity to reach out to a Gofraudme reader and thank her for reporting the first one.

Dawn Rowan gofundme

‘Dawn Rowan’ has since been removed off Facebook (we may or may not have had something to do with that), and her fake fundraiser has disappeared off GoFundMe. Here’s the obligatory archived copy we saved and yes, this is SO going on our fraud tracker, so bite me GoFundMe.

I mean seriously. This shit is out of hand.

There is one really simple way for GoFundMe to mitigate this obviously rampant form of fraud: hold any funeral fundraisers for review and require proof of relation to the deceased before allowing the campaign to go live. Sure it’s a pain but having gone through losing my mom, grandma, and grandpa in a span of a year and a half myself, I know it isn’t impossible. And no, we didn’t put up a campaign for any of them. I mean come on. We’re adults. My grandparents were 80+ years old, it’s not like anyone was surprised by them dying.

In a post last week, we discussed research by NerdWallet that looked at just how big of a chunk funeral campaigns make of overall campaigns on four major personal crowdfunding sites, GoFundMe among them. GoFundMe refused to tell them just what percentage of their campaigns were for funerals, however we were able to deduce based on their math of funds raised in that category subtracted from overall funds raised that the number is about 17%.

Let’s dig a bit deeper into the numbers, shall we? GoFundMe spokesperson Kelsea Little (who, we might note, used to be front and center responding to media requests for statements on fraud but has since been replaced by former White House spokesperson and super shill Bobby Whithorne) told NerdWallet that since its May 2010 launch, GoFundMe has raised $340 million across over 113,000 campaigns in the ‘funeral’ category.

K. Let’s crunch that. I mean, I used to work on the fringes of the accounting industry so might be somewhat qualified to crunch it, though I’d really prefer a CPA to do it for me. It’s 1 in the morning on a Monday so Ima have to work with what I’ve got, which is not my own personal CPA next to me on the couch.

GoFundMe takes 5% off the top of every donation, with payment partner WePay taking another 2.9% plus a .30 fee per. But it’s GoFundMe we’re talking about, so let’s stick to their cut. I suck at math as previously stated and plan to continue stating repeatedly going forward, but the ole Google tells me that 5% of $340 million is $17,000,000. That means GoFundMe has walked away with $17 million dollars for every person who died for whom a ‘funeral’ campaign was put up, regardless of whether or not that campaign was legit and whether or not that money actually went to cover funeral expenses for the person in question. But even if we go by GoFundMe’s own claim that fraud is but a paltry one tenth of one percent on its platform (LOL so naive), then that’s still $16999999.99. Again, double-check our math, that’s not our thing. And don’t bother double-checking GoFundMe’s math, it’s clearly WAY off.

Here’s what one GoFraudMe reader has to say about the matter:

What else could we say to that but AMEN? Not like GoFundMe will listen, that’s $17 million and counting they’d be walking away from.

Despite the fact that we were able to nuke a fake ‘funeral’ campaign in a record 9 minutes earlier today and then a follow up fake campaign shortly thereafter, that’s just two campaigns. Out of the countless campaigns created every day, one every 18 seconds per GoFundMe’s own statement. For every campaign we do happen to see — usually because an astute Gofraudme reader tipped us off — just imagine how many we miss. And just how much money ends up in GoFundMe’s pockets as a result.

With all due respect (which TBH isn’t much), GoFundMe, get your shit together. You’ve been able to maintain this “one tenth of one percent” crap up until now, but the cracks are starting to show and our work is proving just how big of a lie that is. Acknowledge it and, even better, do something about it. Because it’s only getting worse and we’re only getting more determined to hunt these jackasses down and call you out for it.

BTW, my invoice for my 5% cut for sniffing these fools out on your behalf is in the mail. I’m not joking, either. I’m sending it. You know me well enough by now to know I’m not playing around. You’ve got at least $17 million sitting around, surely you can afford to kick me down a few bucks for doing your job for you. Muah.