When tragedy strikes and you're left with nothing, many turn to friends and family for help. In the age of technology, a lot of that help can come in the form of online donations through sites like GoFundMe. The I-Team at Scripps News Milwaukee sits down with a family from Hartford, Wisconsin, who leaned on friends in a desperate time of need, only to find out help wasn't what they were getting.
An afternoon ritual for Mindi Multhauf's kids, snacks after school.
"We were in Orlando. We decided to take our very first sisters trip ever," Multhauf said.
This was in late February. While Multhauf was on that trip she got a frantic call from her son.
"I actually got a call saying 'Mom my arms are bubbling, but I got the fire out, but what should I do?' My heart immediately dropped," Multhauf explained.
A fire in their kitchen burned her son's arms and damaged a lot of their home.
"The ceiling was black," Multhauf described. "There was not one inch it didn't cover the house. Right now, the loss, I can't even put a total dollar number to."
One tragedy, after another.
"We were advised that we couldn't stay in the house anymore because it was hazardous to everyone's health," Multhauf said.
Since March the family's been staying in an Airbnb.
"We realized we would have to buy new clothing for the kids and everything. It got to be just too much and overwhelming. We were at our lowest and had no other place to turn," Multhauf added.
Two of Multhauf's friends eventually set up a GoFundMe for the family. In April, after nearly $3,000 was raised, Multhauf tried to get the money.
"We got an email back from GoFundMe letting us know that unfortunately the funds had already been withdrawn from the account," Multhauf said.
Multhauf said GoFundMe told her the money went to one of her friends who had set up the account. She then found out the friend had entered her own banking information to take the money.
"It's been really hard on top of everything that we've been going through to take that other hit. It's not the money that hurts as much that someone could do this to someone and take from kids that really, really need this," Multhauf said.
A representative for GoFundMe said no one was able to do an interview with the I-Team. Instead, we were sent the following statement:
"GoFundMe has a zero tolerance policy for misuse of our platform and we cooperate fully with law enforcement investigations of those accused of wrongdoing. Our Trust & Safety team has banned this account from using our platform for any future fundraisers and will help ensure the beneficiary receives the funds raised on her behalf through our giving guarantee."
Multhauf said in hindsight, she should've been the sole beneficiary on the account and recommends that to others who are using GoFundMe too.
We asked GoFundMe for more specifics on their vetting process for people who are posting fundraisers, but we didn't get an answer.
Multhauf did file a police report with Hartford Police. We're told the report is still being processed by the department.
The Multhauf family will be living in alternative housing until at least September. If you'd like to help them, a new fundraiser has been created by the family.
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