Crowdsourcing has become an increasingly popular way for people or organizations to fund their financial goals online. Unfortunately, sites like GoFundMe and Kickstarter are also the perfect platform for scammers to prey upon the generosity of others.
In 2017, a Nevada woman created a GoFundMe to raise money for her terminally ill son - even posting photos of a fake memorial after his supposed death. She plead guilty to soliciting money under false pretenses and was sentenced to 12.5 years in prison. In the same year, a couple in New Jersey raised money for a homeless man who they claimed helped the woman when she ran out of gas. The campaign raised $400k and was spent within a few months, in which the homeless man never saw a cent.
When considering donating to a cause, be sure to investigate the credibility of the charity or promoter. Research the organizer of the campaign by checking the legitimacy of their linked Facebook page. Review policies or tools on the crowdsourcing platform that protect you from fraud. Visit sites like GoFraudMe or Kickscammed that highlight scams you should avoid. If you do come across a scam, make sure to report it to the site and file a complaint with the FTC.