TALLAHASSEE, FLA. (WSVN) - A top Florida official has asked a federal government agency to look into what’s become a troubling trend revolving around the partial condominium collapse in Surfside.
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis on Tuesday sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission over concerns about one of the largest fundraising websites in the world.
“We’re going to have more disasters. This is going to happen again, and all I’m asking is for GoFundMe to be more transparent,” he said.
Patronis’ move was partly prompted by a surge of fake accounts set up after the June 24 collapse.
“We reached out to GoFundMe. GoFundMe admitted that they had already targeted 21 fraudulent accounts,” he said. “I want to ensure and see if this is any violation of the Unfair and Deceptive Practices Act.”
Patronis said that in a state prone to disasters like hurricanes, it’s important that generous dollars reach people who are truly in need.
“We will have more opportunities for the fraudsters to take advantage of the generosity of others that want to help, and I feel like GoFundMe needs to be held accountable, and their business model needs to do more than let me know they’ve found 21 fraudulent accounts,” he said. “They have done nothing to ensure the transparency of the dollars that are donated by good-hearted people actually get to those that truly need it.”
Patronis said his request for an investigation is part of his ongoing efforts to prevent scammers from targeting Floridians.
“It’s my role as the CFO of the state of Florida to be the watchdog over the people’s dollars. This is no different,” he said, “whether I’m watching your dollars here from Tallahassee or I’m watching your dollars as somebody who’s trying take advantage of you that may be a third party. This is part of my job, day in, day out.”
A spokesperson for GoFundMe released a statement that reads in part, “Immediately following the news of the Surfside condominium collapse, we mobilized a dedicated team to begin monitoring the platform for fundraisers that were created to help individuals and families. That is why once we identified suspicious activity with 23 fundraisers, we quickly investigated and removed the fundraisers from our platform before any funds could be raised. No fraud was detected, and as a result, $2.4 million dollars has been raised to support the Surfside families and affected communities.”
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