GoFundMe removes fake fundraiser for VTA shooting victim after being alerted by 7 On Your Side

Here's what you need to know before your next donation

ByMichael Finney and Randall Yip via KGO logo
Saturday, May 29, 2021
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The VTA mass shooting has touched many here in the Bay Area. Unfortunately, some out there may try to take advantage of you and your generosity. 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney has a timely warning.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The mass shooting at the San Jose VTA rail yard has touched many here in the Bay Area and across the country. Unfortunately, some out there may try to take advantage of you and your generosity.

7 On Your Side found a fundraiser for a Brad Carson, purportedly a victim of the shooting, on GoFundMe at least an hour before police confirmed the names of the victims.

Later, the names were released.

"Tonight, the county released the names of the eight people who were killed," ABC7's Ama Daetz reported Wednesday night on ABC7 News at 11p.m..

WATCH: How to help San Jose shooting victims and their families

A ninth fatality would later be added. Authorities say all those who were shot, died.

Nowhere did we see or hear the name "Brad Carson" -- the person the crowdsource campaign was said to benefit.

Alma Galvan of the Better Business Bureau says that's a red flag.

"We all know what's going on. We all understand the story. So we want to make sure that the people who are being mentioned, you're able to verify they are one of the victims," said Galvan.

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She also says be cautious of any photos you see.

"A lot of times the images you see on these GoFundMe pages, you can easily cut and paste into Google and easily see where these images are coming from," she said.

In this case, the image purportedly of Brad Carson was identified elsewhere as a Croatian hiker named Alen Kozic on a page posted earlier this year.

7 On Your Side notified GoFundMe of our findings and by this morning, the page had been taken down.

RELATED: Better Business Bureau reveals its top scam, how do you protect yourself?

It's now assigned its trust and safety team to verify all campaigns related to this tragedy.

It says anyone who has potentially been defrauded will be refunded their money.

The BBB says schemes to try to take people's money are common in times of tragedy.

"More so with tragedies like this," Galvan said. "The community does want to come together and help their neighbors. And we do have those scam artists and people that want to take advantage of the situation."

GoFundMe tells us before any funds are transferred, an individual's information, including their banking information, must be verified. GoFundMe has created a landing page for verified VTA shooting-related fundraisers here.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

Have a question for Michael and the 7 On Your Side team? Fill out the form HERE!

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