A man and woman in Port Byron, New York are facing charges including fraud after they allegedly set up a GoFundMe page to help with fabricated medical expenses for a child they claimed had been diagnosed with cancer.
An investigation by the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office determined that the child had never been diagnosed with cancer – nevertheless, the pair collected “several thousand dollars in donations.”
The Sheriff’s Office charged Martin and Jolene LaFrance – both 35 – with first-degree scheme to defraud, a felony, and endangering the welfare of a child.
A GoFundMe spokesperson has issued the following statement:
The LaFrance Family has violated GoFundMe’s terms of service, and all donors will receive a refund. Additionally, they have been banned from our platform. It’s important to remember that our platform is backed by the GoFundMe Guarantee, which means that in the rare case that GoFundMe, law enforcement or a user finds campaigns are misused, donors are fully protected and will get their money back. Additionally, we are working with law enforcement on their investigation.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that misuse is extremely rare on our platform. Campaigns with misuse make up less than one tenth of one percent of all campaigns. With that said, there are unfortunate and rare instances where people create campaigns with the intention to take advantage of others’ generosity. In the small handful of cases where misuse occurs, GoFundMe takes action to resolve the issue.
The LaFrances were arrested on May 4.
They are scheduled to appear in Town of Montezuma Court on May 16.
The Sheriff’s Office is still investigating the case.
If you have any information that might help in their investigation, call (315) 294-8093.
You can also leave tips at www.cayugasheriff.com.