A scam using a spoof GoFundMe page is targeting members of a local community association.
On Nov. 3, Susan Haddon, president of the Quadra Cedar Hill Community Association, was made aware of the scam when a contractor reached out after receiving an email that appeared to be from the association. The email was calling for donations on a ‘GoFundMe page’ for a member’s son in need of medical care.
He forwarded the email to Haddon so she could see for herself. The message explained a member of the association was in dire need of help and that a GoFundMe campaign had been created to support the family. Attached below was what appeared to be a fundraising page with a summary about Fred, a little boy supposedly fighting a rare type of anemia.
But it was a scam, using the GoFundMe logo and format, Haddon explained. The “make a donation” button takes the user to a PayPal account to send money, not to any official GoFundMe page.
The scam was convincing, Haddon noted. She tried to find the page on the real GoFundMe site but was unsuccessful. As the fundraiser wasn’t actually posted to GoFundMe, she couldn’t report to the company, but she was able to start a file with the Saanich Police Department. By Tuesday afternoon, she’d received more reports from members who’d also been contacted by the scammer.
In an effort to prevent members from losing money, Haddon sent a mass email explaining the scam and emphasizing “no, it’s not legitimate.”
Most members replied saying they’d assumed it was a scam but two members did send money, she said. One was able to cancel the donation on their credit card but the other wasn’t able to stop their payment.
Haddon was disappointed by the scam, as many residents are looking for ways to be extra compassionate during the pandemic and this scam preys on that sentiment.
Saanich police are investigating the incident and are reminding residents to confirm who the recipient is of donations before sending funds online.
“Fraudsters are getting clever … be very careful” and when in doubt, trust your instincts and try to donate in-person to avoid scams, said Const. Markus Anastasiades, public information officer for the department.