Florida Woman Stole GoFundMe Donations Meant For Triple Homicide Victims’ Families, Police Say
“She got caught and now she’s going to have to pay for what she did,” says the mom of a man murdered on a July fishing trip with friends.
A Florida woman who raised thousands of dollars for the families of three murdered men is accused of stealing the money and going on a spending spree, police said.
According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Amanda Brown, 32, created a GoFundMe page in the names of Brandon Rollins, Damion Tillman and Keven Springfield, a group of friends who were slain in July while on a fishing trip in Frostproof, a small town about 70 miles southwest of Orlando.
Over 200 people donated a total of $11,915 to the now-defunct fundraiser, titled “Polk County Triple Homicide, Family Expenses.”
“Our detectives got contacted by some family and friends of the deceased [who] said, ‘Hey wait a minute. We didn’t open this GoFundMe account. We don’t know anything about it and we certainly haven’t gotten any money from it,’” Polk County Sheriff’s Office Chief Steve Lester said, according to Tampa’s WFLA-TV.
An investigation revealed Brown allegedly made seven withdraws from the fund between July 26 and Aug. 2.
“We have her all over the county spending money. She’s at a Walmart, she’s at various ATM machines. She even went and paid a $1,300 water bill in Frostproof,” Chief Lester said.
An arrest affidavit showed Brown was linked to the crime when law enforcement took her into custody on meth charges on Sept. 20 and detectives noticed a similarity between her booking photos and surveillance images gathered during the GoFundMe investigation.
According to the affidavit, Brown allegedly confessed to the fundraising scam and “stated she intended to give the funds to the families listed on the account, however, once she began receiving the funds, she began spending it for personal use.”
Brown faces charges related to grand theft, fraud, misrepresentation of proceeds and criminal use of personal ID. Her bail was set at $28,000.
“She used my name, used my son’s picture to gather money that these people thought they were giving to my family,” Dottie Payton, the mother of victim Brandon Rollins, told WFLA-TV about Brown, who she said “can rot.”
“She got caught and now she’s going to have to pay for what she did,” Payton added.
“This woman exploited family members of three young men who were brutally murdered … It doesn't get much lower than that,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said in a statement.
GoFundMe reportedly will reimburse the money of those who donated to the fraudulent fundraiser.