Spotting a Charity Scam This Holiday Season

9:22 AM, Nov 20, 2018


Gabriel Castaneda, Olivia Frain

It's the time of year when people want to help those in need. Whether it's volunteering or giving things to those in need, you have to be alert.

One particular feel-good story of 2017 has come back into the spotlight.

Spotting a Charity Scam This Holiday Season

The story starts when Kate McClure was driving into Philadelphia with her gas light on. Kate then ran out of gas and found herself at the nearest gas station. That’s when she says Johnny Bobbitt, a local homeless vet, approached her.

The homeless vet gave the young woman his last $20 so she could buy gas. Because of his generosity, Kate and her boyfriend started a GoFundMe page and helped raise the homeless vet more than $400,000. The money raised on GoFundMe was supposed to buy a new house, a new car, and a retirement account to help Bobbitt.

Turns out it was all a lie.

GoFundMe says they will refund the donors' money, but we’re still waiting to see how that all plays out.

So how can you spot a scam and keep your money safe?

The website has some tips that you can follow to avoid getting scammed:

Avoid fundraisers that come from people you don’t know. The website that reports fake GoFundMe accounts says to only donate to people you personally know & trust.

Another tip is to be cautious with viral campaigns, sometimes people will create copycats. So do a little due diligence, maybe a Google search or even read the comments.

When you come across a page that's raising money make sure to read the description. Sometimes if a story sounds hard to believe, it’s because it’s a fake.

So make sure you do your due diligence and save your dollars for those who really need it this season. Instead of giving money you can donate food or clothing instead.

If you're in Southwest Florida and are feeling charitable you can donate to local charities like Harry Chapin Food Bank, Lutheran Services Florida or the Lee County Homeless Coalition.


News StoriesSupport Local SWFLCrimes and Courts