GoFundMe Site Shut Down

(WSVN) - When her mother passed away, a family member opened a GoFundMe page to pay for a funeral, but then another family member said the money given by donors didn’t go to pay the funeral home. It’s why the grieving daughter of the victim called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

May’s mother — Aurelia Lopez.

May Melendez, mother was killed: “Just her smile, her personality. She was a wonderful person.”

A wonderful person. A healthy person, and a mother May thought would be with her for a long time.

May Melendez: “Very fun to be around. Someone you can talk to and be with.”

May starts to cry as she remembers that day.

May Melendez: “She got hit by a car crossing the street in Florida City. We didn’t expect it.”

Of course, no one expected Aurelia’s death, but she had made plans for the day she passed away.

May Melendez: “And she told us, since we scattered my dad’s ashes in the ocean, that she wanted to be scattered there, too.”

Aurelia had left an insurance policy that May’s brother would handle to pay for her cremation, but the family also wanted a funeral service that would cost around $1,200.

May Melendez: “My brother said he didn’t know how he was going to pay for it, so he talked his daughter into opening a GoFundMe account for it, and people from the kindness of their heart are donating.”

Seven hundred and sixty dollars was donated to pay for the service, but…

May Melendez: “I do believe that they were misled.”

May says the GoFundMe donors were misled because her brother withdrew the money but did not pay the funeral home for the service.

May Melendez: “And I got upset with him. I yelled at him. This money is supposed to be for the funeral. Nothing else.”

The bill had to be paid. May stepped forward.

May Melendez: “I ended up getting a loan from my brother-in-law to pay for my mother’s funeral costs. I have the paperwork that proves that I paid for the funeral.”

May also asked her brother to shut down the GoFundMe page.

May Melendez: “He starts telling me, ‘Talk to my lawyer.'”

May is upset that the money didn’t go for her mother’s service and says she knows how her mother would feel as well.

May Melendez: “She would be angry.”

Well, Howard, are there any laws that regulate how the money from a GoFundMe page can be spent?

Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: “Yes. You cannot misled people in a fundraiser. It could be fraud. With a GoFundMe page, their rules require that the money be spent on exactly what they promised it would be spent on. If it is not, complain to the GoFundMe website, and the web page can be shut down, and the money has to be returned to the donors.”

We first spoke to May’s brother.

He told us he did use the GoFundMe money for the funeral.

When we told him May had the receipt that she paid it, he hung up on us.

We then got in touch with GoFundMe. They investigated and shut down the page.

They added, “If a campaign is misused, all donors will be fully protected,” meaning they can apply to GoFundMe to get their donations back.

May Melendez: “I was very thankful for everyone who helped.”

While the donors ask for their money back, May will now turn her attention to what she needs: getting over the loss of her mother.

May Melendez: “She is not here anymore, and it hurts.”

So sorry, May.

Now, the money raised in most GoFundMe pages goes for exactly what it was intended to go for, but things happen in life, and if you have given money to someone you feel didn’t spend it properly, the link to ask GoFundMe for your money is down below.

Need things to go your way? Can’t fund someone to solve it? Donate it to us. We are money in the bank for you because we help for free.

Link to ask GoFundMe for return of donated money

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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