Fake GoFundMe campaign following tornadoes

Investigates

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Disasters can bring out the best in people. They can also bring out the worst.

After the 2013 ice storm, Sioux Falls saw some fly-by-night contractors and tree removal services come into town to try to rip people off.

Now we’ve uncovered another kind of fraud going on that’s trying to take advantage of people’s willingness to help tornado victims.

KELOLAND Investigates was alerted about this GoFundMe campaign.

There are several things that appear to be wrong here, starting with the headline: “Tornado!! Deductible Money!!

The impression is if you donate to Raymond Woods’ GoFundMe is that money is tax deductible. It is not.

Donations to a campaign like this are considered personal gifts by the IRS. Only donations made to a GoFundMe Certified Charity campaign are guaranteed to tax-deductible.

But here’s the glaring issue:  

Woods writes: “A tornado came through my city, Sioux Falls, SD destroyed part of my house, I am trying to raise money to get the other part of my deductible for my insurance so I can get things fixed!! Anything helps!”

It looks like the photo on the page must be Woods’ house. But it’s not.
Look at it side by side with this photo of Matt and Gina Ditmanson’s home in southern Sioux Falls, which had some of the worst residential tornado damage in the City.

The Ditmansons confirm it’s their house, but they didn’t start this GoFundMePage.

“I can’t believe that someone would take advantage of a tragic situation for their own financial gains like this. To me it’s one of the cardinal sins that someone would do something like this; in a time like this,” Matt Ditmanson said.

Shortly after KELOLAND Investigates contacted GoFundMe, asking about the legitimacy of the page and sent a message to Raymond Woods, the campaign was taken down. Ditmanson tells us his attorney also contacted GoFundMe.

But it serves as a good warning, but use caution when donating to these crowd funding sites. Just make sure you know where the money is going.

GoFundMe Reporting a campaign for fraud

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