Is it a Crime/Fraud to Create a Fake GoFundMe Account?
The Internet has allowed people from all over the world to reach out to each other and has created opportunities that once seemed impossible. One of these that has become incredibly popular today are crowdfunding websites, such as GoFundMe. Crowdfunding sites allow people to create a campaign and collect donations from anyone that wants to contribute.
Crowdfunding began as a way for people to raise money for an organization or a special project. These sites still allow for these types of opportunities, but they are also used by people that have fallen on hard times and need financial help. Due to the fact that these campaigns are so easy to create, it is sometimes tempting to create a fake campaign, hope it garners attention, and start receiving money. Individuals that want to attempt this scheme however, should beware. It is fraud, and has harsh consequences for anyone convicted.
The Law on Fraud in Florida
Creating a fake campaign on a crowdfunding website such as GoFundMe is considered organized fraud under the Florida Communications Fraud Act. The Act states that it is a crime to defraud another person in order to obtain property.
Under the Act, organized fraud is considered a felony when the value of the property obtained has a value of $50,000 or more. If the value of the property is between $20,000 and $50,000, the offense is considered a felony of the second degree. When the value of the property is less than $20,000, the offense is prosecuted as a felony of the third degree.
Depending on the nature of the offense, individuals sometimes face separate charges that are related to fraud, but will have them facing additional consequences. For example, someone that knowingly used another person’s name as part of their GoFundMe campaign may face charges of identity theft, along with fraud charges.
Terms and Services of Crowdfunding Websites
Facing Charges? Our Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers can Help
The definition of organized fraud under the Florida statutes is somewhat vague. A person may not intend to deceive someone but still face charges if they obtained property through a crowdfunding website as part of a misunderstanding. When that is the case, our Tampa criminal defense lawyers at All Family Law Group can help. We know that not everyone charged with a crime is guilty, and how to build a solid defense for those that are innocent, or that simply made a mistake. If you need help with your charges, call us today at (813) 672-1900 to schedule a free consultation.