Losing a child is an unfathomable tragedy no parent should ever have to face. But that’s exactly what happened to Hassan Noureddine, whose son Zack was brutally murdered last year in a robbery gone wrong.
In the days following his death, a now-removed GoFundMe page called “Zack Noureddine Fund” was started by a California man for whom Zack used to work. About $3800 was raised, all of which was supposed to go toward Zack’s funeral expenses per the campaign description.
We were unable to find a cached copy of the fundraiser, however we did find this Facebook post.
Unfortunately, Zack’s father says he never saw a penny.
Noureddine said San Diego-based GoFundMe told him they paid the campaign creator $3,550 on Feb. 17 — the company deducts a five per cent fee from each donation — but Noureddine said the Los Angeles man has not given him any of that money.
Ottawa police confirmed they are investigating, but no charges have been laid and police declined to comment further.
In a statement, GoFundMe said: “The funds were withdrawn, but unfortunately they were not delivered to Hassan. We are working with Hassan to ensure he receives the funds raised on his behalf.”
How many times are we going to hear this same exact story before GoFundMe does something about it? Here’s a thought: don’t release ‘funeral funds’ to anyone but direct family, regardless of who starts the fundraiser or why. When someone has died, it isn’t difficult to prove claim to the estate, why should GoFundMe proceeds be any different? I hate to say it, as grieving people shouldn’t be made to jump through hoops just to get to funds raised for their deceased loved one, but it’s surely superior to getting ripped off like this.
That is exactly what Zack’s dad is suggesting to GoFundMe. “The money should be sent to the beneficiary, not to the person who opened the account,” he said. “It is very clear. Why [did] they send it to the account owner, if he’s not the beneficiary?”
That simple policy change would allow people to raise money on someone else’s behalf but remove a huge fault in GoFundMe’s current procedures. Keeping money from going to anyone but the beneficiary means it would be virtually impossible for anyone else to get ripped off like this. I say virtually because no system is 100% secure, and so long as money exists, certain human beings will always find a way to get around the system.
Now let’s see what GoFundMe has to say about all of this. Here is their statement to CBC News:
“It’s important to understand that fraudulent campaigns make up less than one tenth of one percent of all GoFundMe campaigns. We have a thorough verification process, deploy proprietary technical tools, and a dedicated team that works around the clock to monitor fraudulent behavior. In addition to technical tools and a dedicated risk team, we have a community of 25 million users – when they see something they think might not be right, they tell us, and our team immediately looks into it. In this case, Hassan gave [the campaign organizer] permission to control the funds. The funds were withdrawn, but unfortunately they were not delivered to Hassan. We are working with Hassan to ensure he receives the funds raised on his behalf. In general, we currently have mechanisms in place to verify the identity of the individual if a campaign is started on their behalf and securely transfer control of the funds to them.”