How to avoid getting cheated in crowdfunding, online fundraising campaigns


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — While the giving season is a joyous occasion, it can also bring out the evil in people who are looking to play on the public’s emotions.

A recent story from New Jersey outraged many when it was revealed a couple had conspired with a man, creating a GoFundMe campaign under the guise that they were supporting a homeless veteran.

“Crowdfunding” and other online fundraising campaigns are not only easy to share on social media, they’re also a quick and effective way to raise money easily for those in need.

That wish to help grows after a tragedy or natural disaster. But donors need to do due diligence and look closely at a campaign before they enter their credit or debit card number, the Better Business Bureau’s Paula Fleming said.

GoFundMe is very popular for fundraising. The website is BBB accredited and says it monitors campaigns to make sure funds go to the right place.

In the case of the New Jersey incident, GoFundMe refunded everyone who donated to the bogus campaign.

Better Business Bureau website |

But Fleming advises you to also do some research before donating.

“It’s very difficult to know, which are the legitimate ones, versus the scams,” she said. “When sharing starts, it’s six degrees of separation. We always encourage people, read the fine print — Whether it’s through GoFundMe or Facebook, there’s an onus on you as the giver to know the information.”

One difference about raising money on social media is the campaign usually has a spot for donors to comment.

“Sometimes the comments will give you more information to make a decision of whether you want to give to that person or not,” Fleming said.

If you suspect the campaign’s intentions are not what they seem, or that donations are being misused, Fleming recommends you contact the site where the campaign is hosted and report it directly.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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