I have a GoFundMe campaign, and I received what looked like donations taking me to my target level, and then were rescinded by GoFundMe on a message saying something like the funds not being obtained. I contacted the ?donor?, who said that GoFundMe had difficulties or was not set up to process donations from Ukraine. I offered a PayPal donation URL and my number for Western Union. I have not been contacted since.

Did I just meet a scammer with a low amount of determination or looking for an easy kill? I'm not sure what to make of this but this was an awfully incomplete execution for what I would expect from a con artist.

Comments are welcome. I expect, if this is a scam, it would hinge on people doing more to not lose money than to gain money, and having GoFundMe say "You've received donations to match your target" and then "No, wait, we were wrong about the money we said would be deposited" would put a victim in a more vulnerable psychological state than someone who just offered money out of the blue and didn't yet make it perceivedly yours.

  • If this is a scam, I'm very interested in how it works.
    – RonJohn
    Aug 3 '19 at 22:39
  • 1
    DIsrupting a prospective victim's state of mind is a mainstream tactic in at least face-to-face con artistry. I could see a scam manipulating GoFundMe to say "You've received a huge donation—no you didn't!", as a step to exploring bank details or other apparent cooperation that would get sensitive information. That explanation is consistent with dropping a case if someone says "You can donate to me via PayPal or Western Union." Aug 3 '19 at 22:44
  • The odd jolt of GoFundMe saying "You've received a good sized donation" and then something I hadn't heard of, GoFundMe saying, "We are unable to give you any of the donation" has a disruptive effect, like: Aug 3 '19 at 22:52
  • ...a solicitor standing by our "NO SOLICITORS INVITED" sign and disruptively saying that our neighbors across the screet said we were throwing a party for AT&T employees, then saying, "Just messing with you," and launching into, in this case, a TMI survey about our computer and electronic consumption. I wised up at the third question or so when he asked how many TV's we were using. The approach wouldn't have worked as well, I don't think, if he were just saying, "I'm here to take a survey," and launched into the survey without the ostensible humor to disrupt the victim at first. Aug 3 '19 at 22:53

I think you have the right idea: This could be a way of "softening you up" and attempting to gain some trust before executing a standard scam.

With the usual "ask for bank password" or "send a too-large (bad) check, then ask for refund of the excess", in addition to whatever other scam indicators are present, you merely have to ask yourself "Why would a stranger want to give me money?" to realize something is fishy.

Here, by piggybacking on GoFundMe, the scammer may be short-circuiting that, by working in a context where it's somewhat normal for a stranger to want to give you money. Thus, your guard is down and you're more likely to think there is real money to be gained.

In your case, the scammer may have been put off by your response and didn't find you as naive a victim as they would prefer -- but with someone else, they might have proceeded to the rest of the scam.

  • Yeah, it seems to me like they were just using this as a way to work into an "overpayment" scam. This is just another excuse to be paying someone. As soon as OP offered WU and Paypal as methods of paying him, the scammer probably decided it wasn't worth the time; because they were probably going to do some sort of reversible transfer (and then get you to send them money via WU).
    – JMac
    Aug 6 '19 at 16:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.