Crowdsourcing websites like Go Fund Me are used to raise money for charitable causes, but scammers are also using them to dupe donors out of money.
“We see this quite often and it really is sad,” Better Business Bureau Regional Director Kelly Trevino said.
Scammers will create a fundraising web page claiming to have some kind of need. Often they’ll pose as a victim of a disaster or tragedy, collect money, but give none of it to the actual victim.
“This is the problem with crowdfunding,” Trevino said. “It’s really not vetted, so you really don’t know who you’re giving that money to.”
In some cases, real disaster or tragedy victims find out that scammers are crowdsourcing in their name.
“It’s always horrible, because what happens is, you have victims that are victimized again, because money that could go to help them and help their families is going into a scammer’s pocket,” Trevino said.
The Better Business Bureau does have some tips for people who want to donate to crowdsourced causes but don’t want to become victims of a scam.
“What we recommend at BBB is you look up the charity,” Trevino said. “Make sure you’re giving to someone who you do know about, that we know about. Go to BBB.org. You can go to Wise Giving, and you can find out some information there.”