Update – April 11, 2018:
GoFundMe says it is monitoring all campaigns following the crash and “we guarantee all money goes to victims and families.”
It says it has a dedicated team monitoring the campaigns, adding all verified campaigns can be found at a centralized location on its site.
VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Canadians have opened their wallets to help the victims and families of the Humboldt bus crash, but double checking where your donations are going is always a good idea.
A Vancouver area woman tells NEWS 1130 she was nearly scammed by a fake Humboldt GoFundMe.
Beware… the @NEWS1130 newsroom is hearing about FAKE @gofundme pages circulating online that claim to be for the #HumboldtBroncos — if you're donating, make sure it's the legit one. (via @AmandaWawryk)
— Dave White (@1130reporter) April 9, 2018
Heather Jones went to donate Sunday night and while the page looked very similar — she thought something was off when she saw only $1,300 had been donated.
“To try to take money from people that are trying to generously give to such a horrible incident that we’re all going through–it’s just devastating. Some of the comments on there were some people that were offering condolences and didn’t know that they had just given their money to somebody else,” says Jones.
“I was absolutely disgusted at it. I just think, if somebody in Canada would do that–it blows me away!”
NEWS 1130 went to check the fake GoFundMe campaign and it appears the page has been taken down. You can find the real GoFundMe page here.
This kind of scam doesn’t surprise the people who deal with fraudsters regularly. The Better Business Bureau says a loss of life creates a sense of urgency and scammers will try to make a quick buck.
“People are so eager to give and they just want to help those in need and people just assume that their donation is going to those who need it,” says the BBB’s Leah Brownridge. She explains people are rushing to give right away when tragedy strikes but it’s important to do the homework before hitting the donate button.
“Ask the GoFundMe administrators, you know, ‘Do you know about this page? Can you tell me exactly where the money is going to?’ Also take a look at the list of the other people who have donated to that page.”
She says if you notice something’s off, or even if you’ve already donated to a suspicious page, you shouldn’t hesitate to give the BBB a call or file a complaint.
Brownridge adds it’s also important to understand the difference between a charity and a donation site.
“Online donation pages are regulated, so you may not get a tax receipt. So if that’s something you are really wanting to do or have, that’s when you need to make sure you’re [donating] to an actual charity. Just making sure you’re doing that homework ahead of time.”
If you are specifically looking for charities, the Canadian Revenue Agency has a complete list of all registered charities available online.