Whakaari / White Island: Scam artists set up GoFundMe pages

3:46 pm on 27 December 2019

Police are urging anyone concerned about suspicious fundraising activity to get in touch following reports of dodgy GoFundMe pages for victims of the Whakaari / White Island disaster.

A view of Whakaari/White Island from the air as a helicopter approaches.

A view of Whakaari/White Island from the air as a helicopter approaches. Photo: Supplied/Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust

Dozens of fundraisers have been created for victims of the 9 December, which has so far claimed at least 17 lives. There were 47 people on the island at the time of the eruption.

The New Zealand Herald reported that a GoFundMe page for two dead Australians was taken down after the newspaper put questions to police and website administrators.

Another page by someone who said his wife died in his arms and his child was badly burned was similarly taken down.

A statement from GofundMe offered the assurance that all funds remained under the control of the organisation until it was confident they would reach the right place.

"In the rare case they don't, we have the world's only crowdfunding guarantee and will refund donors," the statement said.

"During a crisis moment where we witness a high volume of funds, like White Island, we set up dedicated systems and assign safety teams to monitor these crises as they unfold.

"They're responsible for tracking, monitoring and verifying the pages linked to the specific incidents closely. Sometimes pages will be suspended while we await the necessary information we need to verify."

A police spokesperson said anyone with concerns about potentially suspicious fundraising should contact them straight away.

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