Fundraising made through the GoFundMe website have proven the charity campaigns to be very vulnerable to waste, oversight, and questionable intentions.
There are more than four fundraisers for each of the persons killed and wounded in the shooting. The campaigns include a personal safety instructor selling loaders for assault rifles, convicted impostors, and random travelers.
The crowdfunding sites operate outside governmental regulation, and anyone can create an appeal in a matter of minutes.
Equality Florida campaign raised $7 million, and other $1.3 million went to other smaller appeals. The total 30 small campaigns managed to get $265,000 in just one month after the attack.
Most campaigns were legitimate, being initiated by friends or families of the victims. However, a large number of appeals had little or no information on the purpose of the money. When asked, they also refused to offer any details.
Other appeals came from small businesses that needed support after their partners had been killed in the shooting. Another campaign came from a person that wanted to buy security wands for nightclubs.
By ignoring the risks and the legitimacy of the requests, crowdfunding can help raise money without the bureaucracy involved in regular funding options. The tax perceived by GoFundMe and that includes credit card fees is only 8%.
The donations made through a crowdfunding campaign are not tax-deductible.
The organizers verify each campaign before allowing it to go online. They say that only a small percent proved to be a fraud. They also help with refunding people when the campaigners find other financing sources.
As an example, GoFundMe stopped the campaign when the initial goal was surpassed by almost $4,000. The appeal got duplicated, and the beneficiaries chose to keep the money to replace the salary they had lost. The rest of the sum was shared with other people in the same situation.
Another appeal was the one made in the name of one of the victims, saying that the money will be spent for funeral and counseling. The amount was set to $25,000, and only six people donated. The family of the victim said that she was not aware of the money raising.
After analyzing the situation, it was discovered that the individual who initiated the campaign was, in fact, a person that was already convicted in the past for impersonating a person to take advantage of their money accounts. He also previously gave a false name to the police and drove with a suspended license.
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