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How to spot a fake GoFundMe account online

Posted at 4:39 PM, Aug 22, 2018

Fundraising or Fraud?

A local GoFundMe page out of Mesa is now shut down but not before it raised thousands of dollars. 

It started with a sympathetic post. A young man sporting his "Make America Great Again" hat brutally attacked with a brick. 

A picture of the injury accompanied the post. A close up of the young man's mouth, a large gash out of his cheek, his teeth seemingly shifted. 

But, ABC15 wondered why hadn't we heard about this. Messages to the GoFundMe account went unanswered. We couldn't verify the person's name or story anywhere.

The post said it happened at a bar in Tucson last Saturday, so we called Tucson police. They didn't have any records. 

The campaign said the alleged victim already had surgery to wire his mouth shut as his jaw healed. The money was to be used for medical bills. 

After being shared thousands of times on Facebook, the page had already raised more than $5,300. 

By mid-day Wednesday, everything was gone. suddenly shut down by GoFundMe. 

"I think it's more prevalent then they like to admit to," said Adrienne Gonzalez. 

Gonzalez is part of a watchdog group that launched three years ago. 

"You look at a bunch of the cancer fakers, those cases are really sad, there's one lady who pretended her kid had leukemia and held a fake funeral for him," said Gonzalez. 

Since they began digging into thousands of pages worldwide, they have uncovered hundreds of fraudulent fundraisers. 

Now, tracking them on their website with an interactive map. The dots of fraud spawning a web across the globe. 

"There was another woman in Canada who'd claimed to have a rare brain issue, she raised something like $145,000, that she was never being treated for, " said Gonzalez. 

She says along with using tragedy and headline-grabbing disasters to fraudulently raise money, these crooks also use politics to galvanize potential donors. 

"People have very strong opinions one way or another," said Gonzalez. 

Sometimes those opinions can cloud their judgment as it did in the of the dozens who forked over dollars to this campaign. 

Try to only donate to people you absolutely know or can verify their story to be true. 

"Know who you're donating to and it's totally ok to ask where the money is going," said Gonzalez. 

We've reached out to GoFundMe since the link was taken down for comment but have not heard back. 

The Arizona Attorney General's office has been notified of the account and say they are looking into it. 

For more tips on how to spot a fraud click here.