COLORADO SPRINGS- Here at home legal experts say that national Go Fund Me hoax should serve as a reminder of why we need to be careful when making donations online. Online fundraising through sites like Go Fund Me has been a good thing for many people here in Southern Colorado, but even those who have benefited from online donations say it all comes with a risk.
“I was diagnosed with MS in 2011 and within the last three or four years my diagnosis has gotten worse,” said Pueblo West mother Tania Gentry.
Having difficulty walking or standing, gentry asked for online donations to buy a new electric wheelchair.
She’s now regained some of her independence riding in the chair paid for with the more than $3,000 dollars she raised on the Go Fund Me website.
“In two days I was able to collect all of the funds that I needed. I was just in awe and I actually cried,” said Gentry.
Even with her success using Go Fund Me Gentry says she’s seen the national coverage about some online fundraising campaigns that aren’t honest.
“It’s sad. All it takes is one bad seed to ruin it for everybody,” said Gentry.
Legal expert David McDivitt says reporting online scams to law enforcement is important, but it’s rare to recover any money you lose to a phony fundraising account.
“It’s your money guard it wisely and just know that law enforcement can’t always swoop into the rescue because they have other things that are higher priorities for the community than just one individual. So, the best offense is a good defense in something like that,” said McDivitt.
While there may be some dishonest people lurking online. Gentry hopes people won’t stop giving to help others.
Some people do need it like myself. I guess if it is in your heart and you really trust it then go for it,” said Gentry.
in our community experts believe online money scams are under-reported. Investigators say it is important to report scams because it could help them uncover a large number of victims they didn’t know about. In that case state prosecutors will often step in to help.