GoFundMe Fraud

Oklahoma Woman Who Stole From Funeral GoFundMe Campaign to Get Drunk Is Back in Court

Stormy Lusk funeral GoFundMe

As accusations that Robin Faulkenberry stole from a GoFundMe campaign she set up to pay for the funeral of 20-year-old Stormy Lusk — who was shot and killed in June of 2015 — occurred before the launch of this website, this is the first you’re hearing about her here. Therefore, let’s catch you up a bit.

In August of 2015, local KXII reported:

“We’ve been contacting her for over a month to get the funds to the funeral home,” Dana Taylor said.

Lusk’s aunt, Dana Taylor, says they haven’t seen a penny from a Go Fund Me account, family friend, Robin Faulkenberry, created to pay for Lusk’s funeral.

“The day we found out Stormy had been murdered, she contacted my brother and asked if she could start a Go Fund Me account to help with funeral expenses,” Taylor said.

More than 90 people donated to the Go Fund Me account, raising more than $5,000.

This is an all too common pattern in misappropriated funeral fundraisers. A “friend” or distant family member of the deceased reaches out to the family to let them know they can set up a GoFundMe — or worse, they don’t reach out at all and just take it upon themselves to do it — often within hours of finding out about the death. The grieving family, overwhelmed with emotion, is grateful for the effort and agrees. They share the campaign with their own friends and family, and next thing you know the campaign organizer has gathered thousands of dollars that they end up taking for themselves. I have said it before and I will say it again: a simple solution to this would be for GoFundMe to make an authorized beneficiary a requirement for all funeral campaigns, ideally the person who signs the death certificate or legal next of kin. That way the campaign organizer never touches the money.

At the time, the owner of the funeral home handling Stormy Lusk’s burial John Key “reached out to Go Fund Me to see what happened. He says they told him they couldn’t help him with the matter,” according to KXII. He suggested that anyone wanting to help with funeral costs should make their donation directly to the funeral home.

“We feel like our faces have been spit in and Stormy’s name has been very disrespected for someone to profit from her tragedy,” said Stormy’s aunt.

Fast-forward to March of this year, campaign organizer Robin Faulkenberry pleaded guilty in court to embezzlement of the GoFundMe money raised to bury Lusk. Her attorney also presented a cashiers check in the full amount of the missing money, which the district attorney said will reimburse the state’s Victim’s Compensation Fund. The fund paid Lusk’s funeral expenses in full. “The State of Oklahoma and the taxpayers are being paid back,” he said.

47-year-old Faulkenberry was back in court this past Wednesday for sentencing, though the judge decided instead to remand her into custody and continued the sentencing until May 3. At the hearing, District Attorney Craig Ladd showed evidence to the court that revealed Faulkenberry spent the missing GoFundMe money to “buy liquor, cigarettes and pay her bar/club tabs.”

She faces up to five years in prison.