On May 8th of this year, Lauren Newton-Robinson of Heanor Derbyshire England (forgive my lazy Yank formatting there) started a GoFundMe campaign to get her daughter Kimberley to Disneyland Paris. The little girl was diagnosed earlier this year with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, the most common form of childhood cancer.
Mom writes on the GoFundMe page:
Since her diagnosis she has only spent a short amount of time at home as she’s constantly in and out of the hospital, first of all with neutropenic sepsis, then a central line infection, and now shingles and influenza B! She hasn’t been able to continue her chemo for over 3 weeks. So we’ve decided to try and raise some money to take kimberley to disney land as something for her to look forward to! To try and encourage her to perk up a little bit and start getting back to her normal self. As it stands the trip is set to cost around £4000 so im waiting for the offers for next year to come on sale, we want to take her for her 7th birthday next April. Kimberley hasn’t been able to attend much school and has unfortunately missed out on trips they have organised. Kimberley has a hickman line fitted into her chest, which means she is restricted from normal activities like swimming and fun fairs so she’s missing out on quite a lot of things she used to love.
Kimberley is now on her last stage of intensive chemotherapy but this week (7/08/16) has got the chicken pox : ( so she’s on a big dose of antibiotics to keep it at bay! Still she’s a fighter, smiles on as usual!! Words can’t describe how immensely proud I am of my amazing little princess.
As of press time, the legitimate campaign has raised £3,435 of a £4,000 goal. As successful as her efforts were, she told the Mirror last week that unscrupulous — and, frankly, unsophisticated — scammers swiped photos and details from her campaign to start one of their own for a fictional little girl named Katie.
“There’s cruel and there’s cruel but this is beyond that. These people are the lowest of the low,” she said.
The fake campaign has since been removed, but she sent us the following screenshots. It appears as though a Facebook account for ‘Haylee Smith’ (also now removed) was distributing the fraudulent fundraiser as well as reaching out to strangers asking for money.
You’ll notice the fake campaign was basically copied word-for-word from the legitimate one. Real original there, scammers.
You’ll also notice if you do a reverse image search on the fake campaign’s stolen photo, you get a match to the legitimate campaign. So, when in doubt, definitely do that.
In regards to this particular incident, GoFundMe had this to say to the Mirror:
GoFundMe spokesperson Bobby Whithorne said: “Fraudulent campaigns are very rare, making up less than one tenth of one percent of all GoFundMe campaigns. With that said, there are rare occasions where individuals go to great lengths to take advantage of donors’ generosity. We have multiple layers of protection in place to prevent fraud including technical tools and a team of experts working around the clock. Additionally, we have a community of 25 million users – when they see something they think might not be right, they tell us, and our team looks into it. If a campaign is flagged as fraudulent by a user, the funds cannot be withdrawn until the issue is resolved — and that’s what happened in this case. The fraudulent campaign raised a total of £120 from seven donors before the funds were placed on hold. The funds were never withdrawn, the user has been banned, and we are currently in the process of refunding donors.”
There is more to this story than we’re able to share at the moment, but will be happy to update you as soon as we are able.
Meanwhile, it’s worth reminding everyone that if someone you don’t know reaches out to you out of the blue asking you to donate to their GoFundMe campaign, you can pretty safely assume they’re trying to pull one over on you. Report the campaign to GoFundMe and, if you’re willing, grab some screenshots of any communications from the scammer as well as the fundraiser so there’s evidence. And then, uh, send them to me.
Little Kimberley’s trip to Disney is still planned for April next year, just before her 7th birthday. And scammers are still giant buttholes.