Gofundme.com pages proliferated almost as soon as cops took Nikolas Cruz into custody after Wednesday’s 17-death massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Donors must parse the funding pages from the fraudulent.
Start with the official gofundme page created by Broward County Public Schools’ official fund-raising cousin, Broward Education Foundation, gofundme.com/StonemanDouglasFund. "Donations raised here will be used to provide relief and financial support to the victims and families of the horrific shooting," the page declares.
In an e-mail to The Herald, a gofundme.com spokesperson Bobby Whitmore wrote, "if another campaign is created to provide general relief to all of the families, we’ll either direct them to the Broward Education Foundation or transfer their funds raised to the Broward Education Foundation. Either way, the funds are going to the victims and families."
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The State of Florida will cover funeral costs for the deceased victims. Common sense says, then, pages declaring they’re raising money for the funerals fail the fraud test or match having good intentions with being uninformed.
Also, avoid vague pages that use general cliches about raising money without really telling you who they are. Also, this page purports to be from North Bay Village-based WSVN-Channel 7 but says it’s based out of Boca Raton. Another stop sign: the page misspells the school name. Don’t trust bad spelling. A typo here or there, OK, but truly bad spelling tends to be the sign of someone rushing to cash in on a situation. Take this page, which says, "We are raising the money for the family’s of this tradegy."
As far as individual family pages, "We are reviewing every campaign created related to the shooting in Florida and we are monitoring the platform for all campaigns set up to support individuals and families impacted," Whitmore wrote. "We guarantee the money raised by those campaigns will be transferred to the right person. It’s important to remember that when a campaign is created for an individual, funds are collected, held, and then only transferred directly to the ultimate beneficiary of the campaign. Those will also be verified and we will be sure to pass along those pages. We have a whole host of measures to verify a page, including verifying the identity and banking information of the beneficiary before funds are transferred."
GoFundMe’s centralized place for verified campaigns for individual survivors and family members is at GoFundMe.com/stonemandouglas.
David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal