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Office of the Vermont Attorney General

Attorney General Warns of Scam Using Gofundme

June 18, 2018

Contact: Christopher Curtis, Chief Public Protection Division, (802) 828-5586

A new scam is targeting Vermont attorneys. The Attorney General’s Office warns that a fake “GoFundMe” campaign purports to raise money for a child with a rare disease using GoFundMe.com.  According to the Vermont Bar Association, the phony campaign referenced its organization and requested that VBA members make contributions. GoFundMe.com is a popular online fundraising platform.

The VBA issued the following alert on its website:

“Recently, a Go Fund Me request entitled ‘Support Josh’ was sent with reference to the Vermont Bar Association, requesting that our membership support a member’s child with a rare disease, using our info@ email address. The link goes directly to PayPal. The Vermont Bar Association did not send this email. Please note that the VBA will never send a Go Fund Me request to its members. Our IT firm is looking into this matter. Please contact the office with any questions.”

The Vermont Bar Association may be reached at 802-223-2020.

In light of the scam, the Attorney General reminds Vermonters of GoFundMe’s guidance for spotting fake GoFundMe campaigns. The guidance lists four questions that the recipient of the GoFundMe request should be able to answer:

1. How is the campaign organizer related to the intended recipient of the donations?
2. What is the purpose of the campaign and how will the funds be used?
3. Are direct family and friends making donations and leaving supportive comments?
4. Is the intended recipient in control of the withdrawals? If not, is there a clear path for the
funds to reach them?

The guidance explains that if the campaign does include the above points, but the recipient is still
unclear, the recipient should ask:

1. Does the GoFundMe include intentionally misleading or factually incorrect information?
2. Are the funds not being used for the stated purpose within a reasonable amount of time (including withholding funds from the beneficiary)?
3. Is the GoFundMe impersonating someone else and/or copying their story?
4. Is the GoFundMe violating any of the website’s terms and conditions?

You can report suspected scams to the Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program by phone at 800-649-2424, or by e-mail at AGO.CAP@vermont.gov. You can also file a complaint online at consumer.vermont.gov. These types of GoFundMe scams can also be reported to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and GoFundMe.

Last modified: June 18, 2018