Local News

GoFundMe scam cashes in on real life tragedy for family hurt in State Fair accident

Posted January 19

— Three years ago, when the Gorham family was involved in a tragic accident on the Vortex ride at the North Carolina State Fair, community members stepped up to the plate and offered monetary donations to help keep the family afloat.

"We were very fortunate to have a lot of donors contribute financially and spiritually to my family's well-being, and we were very appreciative of it," said Kisha Gorham.

Gorham's husband was severely injured in the accident.

"It was a medical emergency and a financial emergency," she said.

The Gorhams said they have long taken down their online fundraising page, but recently discovered someone using the family's photos and information online in an attempt to raise money.

"After all my family has been through, and it is not only insulting to me, it is insulting to the donors, the people who did donate money to my family," said Keisha Gorham. "And it is insulting to the good mission of GoFundMe."

Vernessa Hoffman, a compliance director for WRAL-TV's parent company Capitol Broadcasting, investigates fake social media accounts and gets them taken down.

"You'll see a lot more fraud than in the past, and people make millions off of it," Hoffman said. "GoFundMe is a great website and it is a great way to get attention to different cases, but there are a lot of bad people that are using it incorrectly."

GoFundMe recently removed the fake account that used Gorham's picture, but on Thursday, she discovered a similar account on Facebook.

According to Facebook, "misrepresenting yourself on Facebook is against our policies, and we have a dedicated team that's tasked with helping to detect and block these kinds of scams."

"Go to the source. Get a direct link from the source, and do your research," Hoffman said.

Gorham said when she reached out to Facebook they refused to take down the fake account.

"In this case, we reviewed the profile you reported and found that it doesn't go against our Community Standards," Facebook said in a statement to Gorham.

2 Comments

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  • Mary Meadows Jan 20, 2017
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    I am personally both surprised and appalled at the number of people who instantly go to gofundme whenever tragedy strikes. In some cases it appears to be indeed warranted. However, time and time again I wonder to myself "Why don't these people have life insurance, fire insurance, renters insurance, etc". It depends upon the situation of course. I have seen people who live in homes that are of a far greater value than the one I own, and yet I manage to squeeze out my insurance premiums so that at the very least, should the absolute worst occur, I won't have to rely on others to bury my loved ones, replace my home, etc. When disaster did strike my family 3 years ago thank god we had taken out long term disability insurance to see us through. Had we not I imagine we would have lost our home. We lost our savings but that can be replaced.

  • Linda Levine Jan 20, 2017
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    Strange that Facebook would not take care of it. They were very quick to remove a fake account someone did with a family member's photo. Within hours of the report, they had it down.