Crowdfunding is the name for the process by which people raise funds on websites such as GoFundMe for various projects from movies and books to the development of new businesses and, most notably, to help people in need of charity Unfortunately, as I have been warning you about since 2012, the potential for crowdfunding scams is tremendous. Recently there was a devastating fire on the the Navy’s USS Bonhomme Richard aircraft carrier that destroyed many of the possessions of sailors on board. Distresingly, in response to the fire, scammers have set up a number of phony crowdfunding pages to steal money intended to be given to the needy sailors by charitable people.
Never assume that all crowdfunding solicitations are legitimate. Despite the best efforts of GoFundMe and other legitimate crowdfunding sites, phony crowdfunding pages are not uncommon. Remember my motto, “trust me, you can’t trust anyone.” Even if a crowdfunding site has been recommended to you by trusted friends does not mean that it is legitimate. Your friends could easily have been tricked. In other instances, recommendations for crowdfunding pages may appear to come from your trusted friends, but actually are being sent by scammers to you who have hacked your friends’ social media or email accounts and pose as your friends in an effort to induce you into making a contribution to them.
One of the good aspects of GoFundMe is its guarantee that if scams like this are discovered, GoFundMe will refund all donations made to the scammers. Here is a link to GoFundMe’s guarantee. https://support.gofundme.com/hc/en-us/articles/203604704-The-GoFundMe-Guarantee
In addition, GoFundMe also provides tips for people trying to distinguish scams from legitimate requests for donation, which describe things you should consider before making a donation such as whether or not the intended beneficiary of the donations is in control of the withdrawals and if not, if there is a clear path for the funds to reach him or her. For a full list of the things you should consider before making a GoFundMe donation, click on this link. https://support.gofundme.com/hc/en-us/articles/115015913668-How-to-Determine-if-a-GoFundMe-is-Safe-to-Donate-To
GoFundMe does a good job of trying to keep its site free of scams, but of course, they will never be perfect. Fortunately, due to their guarantee policy, no one making a donation should feel there is a danger of losing their money to a discovered scam.
The Navy is suggesting that people wishing to donate to the USS Bonhomme Richard sailors do so through this link to the San Diego USO https://sandiego.uso.org/stories/30
In regard to investigating phony charities, the website http://www.charitynavigators.org is a free website that will provide you with important information about charities and non-profit organizations to which you may be considering making a donation. First and foremost the website will tell you whether or not the particular website or non-profit is a scam. However, also importantly, http://www.charitynavigator.org will also tell you how much of your donation to particular charities and non-profits goes toward their charitable purposes and how much goes toward their own salaries and administrative expenses.
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