GoFundMe Fraud

Mom of Amazing Boy With Rare Birth Defect Discovers Scammers Using Her Son For GoFundMe Scams

If you don’t already know Christian Buchanan, you should. The Facebook page set up by his mom tells his story better than I can, it says Christian “was born with a rare form of cleft lip and palate called Tessier cleft lip and palate, classifications 3, 4, 5. Christian is completely blind. He is medically complex, but rocking this thing called life!” If you read about his case in viral postings, it might say Christian is a boy born without eyes, but his story is so much more complex than that.

This is Christian. Heart totally melted, right?

So follow his journey, especially if you’ve ever loved or have been loved by a special needs child. Or animal for that matter, I have to admit this really got to me as foster mama to sight-challenged cats, not like kids and cats are even on the same plane whatsoever but — OK I digress!

The other day, Christian’s mom was alerted to a GoFundMe campaign using her Facebook page and Christian’s photos to raise money. It was quickly taken down by GoFundMe after she reported it and we weren’t able to salvage a cache but it looked like this:

Christians medical funds fake GoFundMe

This Rumeur person posted the campaign — which was set up to benefit “Lacey and Christian Buchanan” perhaps to make it seem legitimate to those who follow the page — in at least one GoFundMe campaign sharing group on Facebook repeatedly, but not on her own page. No one knows who started the fake campaign, but this Rumeur person seemed awfully invested in sharing it.

If you think the story ends here, it doesn’t. A fraudulent GoFundMe campaign in Christian’s name has been up since 2014, which Lacey found after being alerted to the other fake campaign. It too was taken down, but we archived it here.

Christian Buchanan fake GoFundMe

Reads the fraudulent GoFundMe campaign that sat on the platform since April 2014 until Christian’s mom was made aware of and reported it just this week:

This fundraiser is to help with Christian’s medical care not covered by insurance, and expenses related to Christian’s medical care.
From Lacey:

Christian was born with a very rare form of cleft lip and palate, known as Tessier cleft lip and palate, classifications 3, 4 and 5. There have only been about 50-60 documented cases of this type of cleft. Christian’s birth defect was caused by Amniotic Band Syndrome, but we don’t know what caused the ABS. Christian is very healthy, but he does face some challenges because of his birth defect. The cleft left Christian with a condition known as micropthalmia or “small eyes.” Christian is blind. He also has malformation to his mouth, upper teeth, sinus cavity, skull, and lips. None of this malformation is life threatening or dangerous, but it will require many reconstructive plastic surgeries. Christian eats with a feeding tube because of his birth defect. He does not have a roof to his mouth and his lips don’t work exactly how they should even after a surgery, so it’s very difficult for him to chew, control food in his mouth, and speak. He faces a number of surgeries up into his teens and possibly into adulthood. Although our guesses are just that, guesses, we estimate that he will have at least 20 to 30 surgeries in his lifetime.

Christian’s type of cleft is very unique. It is obvious that Christian’s reconstruction of his face, including his palate, eyes, lips, teeth, etc, will require extensive surgeries. It is also apparent that not every reconstructive surgeon will be up to the task of reconstructing such a unique and rare cleft. Finding a doctor who has the experience and knowledge to complete Christian’s repairs and do them well is IMPERATIVE to us and we will not settle for just any doctor because they are near by, or because that’s just who his insurance will pay for.

The last few years have been a struggle when it comes to getting Christian the care that he needs and that we think he deserves. When Christian was four months old, our local children’s hospital made a grave misdiagnosis for Christian. They misdiagnosed him with craniosynotosis. Craniosynotosis is a childhood craniofacial condition, but not one that Christian had. For many, many reasons, we were very untrusting of the diagnosis that we received. If you would like to read more about that and how we came to the conclusion to get a second opinon, you can follow this link: http://christianbuchanan.blogspot.com/2012_07_01_archive.html .

After much thought and prayer, our family decided that the best course of action for Christian would be to seek a plastic reconstructive surgeon outside of the state. We found that there just wasn’t a surgeon in state who could handle Christian’s complex issues. We were not comfortable allowing a surgeon to perform operations on him who we didn’t feel was competent to handle his case, or who we didn’t trust. In that search, we visited Shriner’s in Cincinnati, Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, and also Lebonheur Children’s Hospital in Chattanooga (at the request of Christian’s insurance company). We also did research and spoke with many, many other hospitals.

After our visit with Nationwide Children’s, my husband and I decided to pursue getting Christian’s surgeries done there. The surgeons were highly skilled, the staff was wonderful and friendly, and we felt comfortable there. For a year and a half we fought the insurance company.

Christian’s insurance company has a policy of not covering out of state medical care except where there is an emergency and the insured happens to be out of state when it happens (this does not apply to us) or when there are no doctors in the state who can perform the required care that the patient needs. We spent a year and a half trying to convince Christian’s insurance company that the later except pertained to our case. We were completely unsuccessful. During this time we became close friends with a family who lived in Indianapolis and had decided to visit them in August of this year. Marisa, who is now officially an honorary “Mimi” to our boys, asked if we would be interested in visit Riley Children’s Hospital while we were there. We agreed. We were already going to be close, and we also know a family whose daughter has had all of her Tessier cleft repairs done at Riley, so we were looking forward to the visit, but to be honest, we had little hope of anything ever coming of it after the fight we had already had for the past year and half.

We loved the hospital and the staff there as well, they were as kind and good to us as they could be. The surgeon was so helpful in answering all of our questions, asked many questions himself to get to know us and Christian, we got to understand his skill and find out that he has the skill and expertise to handle Christian’s case and we knew immediately that he was a kind man. But again, we didn’t have much hope that anything would work out, and didn’t even really pursue it. Our rationale was, “If his insurance company won’t approve one hospital, why would they approve a different hospital?”

On October 5th, I went in front of a judge to the final appeal hearing with Christian’s insurance company. This was our last shot. I was to appear in front of a judge, Christian’s insurance company being represented by counsel, to plead our case for the final time. Eight days later, we received our answer in the mail, The judge still said “no.” We were disheartened, disappointed, and unsure where to do next. Two days later, we received a call from Riley Children’s Hospital. Christian’s insurance company had agreed to pay for Christian’s surgeries at Riley Children’s Hospital! We didn’t know how, or why, or who, but we didn’t care at that moment. All we could do was cheer and scream and cry!!!!!

Christian’s first surgery with Riley will be November 26th, 2013. He will be undergoing a procedure to have his palate partially closed. His palate has to be closed in stages because the defect is so large, so his hard palate will be closed during this procedure. The surgery is estimated to last about 3 hours, and he will be in the hospital for about 2 days. Once Christian is discharged from the hospital, his doctor has recommended to us to stay near the hospital for 2 to 3 weeks. If problems arise, he would like us to be near the hospital so we can get Christian to his doctor quickly.

Lacey wants nothing but the best for Christian! His future depends upon it. Let’s help her and Christian get it. Thanks everyone!

All of that was copied from Facebook for a fraudulent GoFundMe. It raised $333 of a $9,800 goal. Every donation is highly suspect. Real people don’t donate in amounts like that. We’ve seen this repeating pattern in GoFundMe donations before, see the guy who realized his debit card was stolen for GoFundMe donations.

This isn’t normal. Real people don’t donate like this. Scampaign for Christian aside, you’re telling me WePay didn’t pick up on this pattern of fake donations?

Fake GoFundMe donations

So where’s the $333? GoFundMe sat on that campaign up until a day ago and shut it down.

We spoke at length to Lacey about these fake campaigns and she said “I really hope this encourages people to look into what they are giving money to. There are ways to verify the legitimacy of crowdfunding campaigns, and unfortunately, we can’t always trust people to do the right thing. So we need to be vigilant to protect ourselves. I’m so thankful for the people who brought this fake campaign to my attention and helped me get it shut down before any serious damage could be done!”

This is the real Christian and his real mom and the real struggle they have been fighting. If at some point they do decide to do a GoFundMe, it will be on their official Facebook page. Until then, if you see any others they are absolute fakes and please send directly to their attention.

Hugs, Christian and family <3 If there’s anything the GoFraudMe family can ever do for you guys don’t hesitate to ask! Does Christian like kittens? We’d be happy to dispatch kittens from our rescue friends down there to hang out, just say the word!