Authorities combat fake fundraising in name of fallen OPD officer

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist, Nadeen Yanes - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - More than $17,500 has been donated to help the family of the Orlando police officer who was killed by a wanted murder suspect Monday, according to police.

Tragedies bring out people who want to help but also people looking to make money from a community’s grief.

“Unfortunately after tragic events there are evil people out there who are looking to take advantage of our community,” Orlando police Chief John Mina said.

At least two fraudulent GoFundMe accounts sprang up Monday, claiming to be for the families of Clayton and Orange County Deputy Norman Lewis, who died Monday in a crash while responding to the search for the wanted murder suspect. Both were taken down.

The information from the fake accounts was sent to the economic crimes unit, Mina said.

Mina said there is only one OPD-affiliated GoFundMe page for Clayton’s family.

Orange County Sheriff's Office set up a GoFundMe page for Lewis too.

All funds donated to the GoFundMe page set up by Orlando police Deputy Chief Orlando Rolon will go to Master Sgt. Debra Clayton’s husband her family’s expenses.

News 6 reached out to Attorney General Pam Bondi about the fake fundraising pages.

“We are reaching out to GoFundMe now to ensure that these sites are properly vetted,” Bondi said in an email. “It is horrible that anyone would possibly seek to exploit such a tragedy.”  

The attorney general’s office recommends only giving to campaigns created by people you know and trust.

Any suspicious accounts should be reported to GoFundMe.

Consumers who believe they have been a victim of a scam or other fraudulent activity may file a complaint with the Florida Attorney General’s Office by calling 1(866) 9-NO-SCAM or by visiting MyFloridaLegal.com.

GoFundMe raises more than $1 million a day, according to the site.

Read more tips to avoid trouble when it comes to donating here.

 

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