Over the three years I’ve been curating cases of GoFundMe fraud, I’ve pretty much seen it all. So much so that nothing really surprises me anymore. But this case… it’s easily up there in one of the worst I’ve seen.
34-year-old Ginny Irovando Long and her 47-year-old husband Robert Edward Long were arrested on February 1 at their home in Florida after an investigation led authorities to believe the couple convinced their 13-year-old son he was dying of terminal brain cancer. The couple benefited financially from support intended for the boy many believed was ill.
The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office says the couple has been charged with one count of child abuse and nine counts of fraud.
The investigation revealed the pair set up a T-shirt fundraiser for the boy at his school last year and shared the bogus cancer diagnosis information on their Facebook accounts as well. In a post December 28th, investigators say Irovando claimed it was a miracle the boy had lived three days past Christmas and the only person that knows when he is supposed to go is God. Investigators say the victim appeared to be in good health in the photograph. When they talked to the child, he said Irovando told him he was going to die due to brain cancer back in May 2017. He says it scared him and he didn’t like to talk about it. He also told them Irovando and Long had created a Go Fund Me account on his behalf.
The investigation began last November when an official at the boy’s school raised suspicions about the boy’s condition and his parents’ (using that term as loosely as possible here) motivations.
It’s worth noting here that the Facebookati say Mr. Long was not the child’s biological father, with some going as far to say he himself was scammed by the mother as well and sucked into a complicated web of deceit. Guess we’ll let the courts do that particular load of dirty laundry.
Predictably, GoFundMe was quick to announce that the offender has been banned from the platform for life and donors will receive refunds. It’s unclear just how much was raised and no archive of the campaign could be found.