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GoFundMe verifies fundraising pages for families of fatal crash victims in Billings

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Posted at 8:40 AM, Dec 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-19 10:40:18-05

GoFundMe pages have become more prevalent as the site is dedicated to empowering people to help others.

But unfortunately, that also means scammers may look to cash in on your kind heart.

The company vets its pages and has advice on making sure donations get to the right place.

In the wake of a crash as terrifying as this past weekend, many share a common reaction, empathy for the families and the need to want to do something to help.

"We have four verified GoFundMes that have been created for each of these families who are impacted by that horrific crash," said Melanie Standage, GoFundMe communications manager.

GoFundMe has become a way for people to support one another in times of tragedy, all of it done with a click of a mouse.

But unfortunately, scammers have tried to use this platform.

"Our trust and safety team is working directly with each of those fundraiser organizers and will continue working with those family members to make sure that all the funds are delivered to the right place," said Standage.

Standage, based in San Diego, says friends and family can trust the pages set up for the families of 18-year-old Storm Lee Skaggs, 17-year-old Weston Lyon, and 14-year-old Zoey.

A different fundraising page that family states is the correct page has been established for 14-year-old Makaylee Reiter.

Standage has some advice on what to check on a GoFundMe page.

"Does the fundraiser have a clear title and image?" Standage said. "Is the story clear? What's the purpose of that fundraiser in the fundraiser description? How is the person who's starting this GoFundMe somehow related to the beneficiary? And then another tip is to look at the comments on the donations. Are friends and family donating to that GoFundMe as well?"

She said you can hit "Contact" to communicate with the organizer and if you still have concerns and questions, click "Report Fundraiser" to report possible fraudulent activity.

Still, she says the processing department will hold the funds until it's verified and she says fraudulent pages are rare.

"We have zero tolerance for any misuse of GoFundMe," standage said.