Alleged GoFundMe Fraud

Pennsylvania Man Accused of Stealing Funeral Funds Raised for His Deceased Girlfriend

Shaun Smartnick of Mt. Pleasant, PA was arrested this week following accusations that he failed to turn over funeral funds raised via a GoFundMe campaign for his deceased girlfriend Tracy Soles, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Westmoreland County Detective Paul Burkey charged Smartnick with theft by failure to make required disposition of funds.

The day after Soles passed away in 2015, Smartnick’s mother Deborah established a GoFundMe campaign to help with her funeral expenses. She transferred ownership of the account to her son Shaun shortly after.

Of the $10,000 goal, $1530 was raised. Tracy’s parents Laura and Paul paid for the funeral in full, Detective Burkey stated in the affidavit that “none of that money” had been turned over.

The campaign makes it clear that funds raised were meant to help with Soles’ funeral expenses and support of her surviving daughter:

On July 20th, 2015 Tracey Soles suddenly passed away. She was only 37 years young. She was survived by her 11 year old daughter Sara and fiance of many years Shawn Smartnick. It was such a sudden tragic loss. We are taking donations to help with the cost of funeral expenses and helping Sara. Any donations are greatly appreaciated [sic]. God bless!

Tracy Soles funeral GoFundMe

Notice the comment left 18 months ago:

It is so sad to find out today from Tracy’s father Paul Soles, that all of these donations that were made for Tracy’s Funeral expenses or even for Sara NEVER were used for what this fund was started for.. So all of you who thought you were supporting a good cause for someone you loved, is now denied this fund was even started for Tracy and Sara. You were all deceived and used for your money under false pretenses.

The campaign was still live on GoFundMe as of May 6, however has since been removed since the announcement of charges against its organizer. An archived copy may be found here.

After a complaint was made to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office, detectives in Westmoreland County opened an investigation and made contact with Smartnick. At that point, Detective Burkey said Smartnick “agreed to turn over the monies to Soles” yet failed to do so and avoided all attempts to contact him thereafter.

Smartnick will be back in court on June 8th.