A Richfield woman is accused of stealing more than $2,000 donated to a fundraiser she created to help out a bereaved family.
Criminal charges filed against Kimberly Ann Freese, 49, of Elliott Avenue South, says she initially set up the GoFundMe account to benefit a family she knew who had recently suffered a death.
GoFundMe allows fundraisers to either direct the money to their own bank accounts, or direct it to someone else's.
Freese chose herself to be the beneficiary, telling the family she would "turn the account over" to them when they were ready so it can help pay for the expenses incurred as a result of their relative's death.
Well-wishers and other family members, 34 individuals in total, donated a combined $2,645 that they believed was going to the victim's family.
However on Nov. 29, two weeks after the death of the family member, $2,245 of the money raised was transferred into Freese's account.
The family made several requests of Freese to have the money transferred, but she kept putting them off, only for them to learn in early December that she'd received the money directly.
GoFundMe recommended the family report her, which they did, with Freese telling police that she no longer had the money as it had paid for a "court thing."
Investigation of her bank records however found in the weeks after receiving the money she'd made 50 purchases from Amazon, i-Tunes and pizza deliveries.
GoFundMe gave the family the money
In the end, the affected family did end up seeing the benefit of the fundraising drive, as GoFundMe donated the money taken after being made aware of the site's misuse – something they say is "very rare on our platform."
"Campaigns with misuse make up less than one tenth of one percent of all campaigns," a spokesperson told BMTN.
"Additionally, it's important to remember that our platform is backed by the GoFundMe Guarantee, which means that in the rare case that GoFundMe, law enforcement or a user finds campaigns are misused, donors are fully protected and will get refunded.
"And if a campaign organizer does not deliver funds to the intended recipient, GoFundMe will donate the undelivered amount to the right person."