After a homicide in Maryland, a woman opened up a GoFundMe campaign that was intended to help the family of the victim. However, she is now facing first-degree fraud charges after allegations that she kept some of the money for herself.
Technically, the report claims that police said she "intentionally withheld collected proceeds from the account." They do not indicate if she kept all of the money that was raised or if she only kept a portion, while passing the rest on to the family.
The woman who started the campaign is 30 years old. The homicide victim was a worker at a church in Washington, D.C. She was shot by an ex-boyfriend and passed away from her injuries. That happened in June of 2016. The woman started the GoFundMe account on June 30, and it ran until close to the end of March in 2017.
Due to the fraud allegations, the D.C. Superior Court put out a warrant for her arrest, and police picked her up.
It does appear that GoFundMe is working with the authorities. A spokesperson claimed they were attempting to recover the funds and pass them along to the family. They also claimed that this type of fraud is very uncommon on GoFundMe, showing up in under 1 percent of cases.
The rise of crowdfunding in recent years has changed the way that money is raised and made the internet a powerful vehicle for acquiring funds from all over the country. This can also make for very complex cases when fraud is alleged, and it's important for those who have been accused to know what legal rights and defense options they have.
Source: WTOP, "Md. woman charged with keeping money from GoFundMe account for murder victim’s family," Jennifer Ortiz, Dec. 30, 2017