39-year-old Amarillo policeman Justin Scherlen passed away on August 4 while on a family vacation in Taos, New Mexico, and an autopsy to determine the cause is underway. The outpouring of support for the man friends say made “How can I better serve you?” his motto has been tremendous.
You already know where we’re going with this, so we’re just going to get to it.
A group called Amarillo Backs the Badge is warning of fake GoFundMe pages purporting to benefit the Scherlen family, because of course they are.
They wrote the following on their Facebook page:
“Do not, I repeat DO NOT use any GoFundMe pages you see set up for the Scherlens. So far we have found one fake one that someone is trying to scam money off of. There is an account set up at ANB [ed. note: Amarillo National Bank] that you can give money to that is safe and secure and you don’t have to worry about who the recipient is! If you have question, please let us know.”
We didn’t find any fake campaigns collecting funds in the wake of his death, however we did find this one which we have archived here. The campaign states it was set up to assist with medical bills after Scherlen’s September 2015 collision.
Jodi Weatherwax Hooten writes on the GoFundMe page:
Police Officer Justin Scherlen was seriously injured in an on duty accident about 10 months ago. He just had another surgery and is looking at least 2 more after 6 weeks of rehab. He has had LOTS of surgeries and is not done. Please help his He deal with the constant financial strain from medical bills by donating to this fund. He put his life on the line every day for us now it is our turn to not forget.
That campaign raised $100 of a $3000 goal.
A second campaign started by a Jeff Hooten (not Facebook verified) for Officer Scherlen’s medical bills related to the Sept 2015 incident raised $3345 of a $5000 goal. Amarillo Backs the Badge said they looked into these fundraisers and that both Hootens are, in fact, police officers, however they can’t verify the legitimacy of those campaigns. That said, they did not say the campaigns are suspicious either. So, let’s just shelve those.
Now, back to Officer Scherlen’s tragic death. Folks on the above Facebook page say that someone named Shawnee Copple did start a campaign shortly after his death, however as far as we know that campaign has been removed and we couldn’t find any evidence of it ever existing. Amarillo Backs the Badge said they were unable to verify that she knows the family, nor her intentions.
Officer Scherlen was laid to rest yesterday, and over 1700 people attended the memorial service.
As previously stated, donations for his family may be made directly at Amarillo National Bank. Given the nature of this situation and the large outpouring of support from the community, it’s wise to be extra skeptical of any GoFundMe pages that may pop up in the next few days. Add to that, it’s wise not to donate to them for sure and If you happen to come across one, please let us know.