Prosecutors gear up as GoFundMe ‘redirects’ convoy donations
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Ohio AG Dave Yost have urged citizens who donated to the anti-vaccine mandate ‘Freedom Convoy’ in Canada to come forward, after crowdfunding site GoFundMe seized nearly $8 million in donations. Morrisey says the platform engaged in “deceptive” practices.
“In [West Virginia], organizations must not deceive donors and engage in deceptive advertising practices,” Morrisey, a Republican, tweeted on Friday night. “If you’ve been victimized by a deceptive act or practice, let us know!”
#GoFundMe now won’t honor #FreedomConvoy donations and will instead redirect to other charities? In WV, organizations must not deceive donors and engage in deceptive advertising practices. If you’ve been victimized by a deceptive act or practice, let us know!— Patrick Morrisey (@MorriseyWV) February 5, 2022
Ohio’s Dave Yost, also a Republican, issued a similar statement on Saturday morning, instructing duped donors to file a complaint on his website.
It is still unclear what kind of legal action, if any, the AGs are preparing to take.
The ‘Freedom Convoy’, a group of truckers who have clogged up roads in the Canadian capital, Ottawa for a week now, had raised $7,964,141, before GoFundMe shut down their fundraiser on Friday. The decision was seemingly made at the behest of Ottawa’s police department, which thanked the company for “listening to our concerns as a City and a police service.”
GoFundMe announced that unless donors request refunds, the site will distribute the seven-figure sum to “credible and established charities.” Even though the truckers confirmed that “funds would be used only for participants who traveled to Ottawa to participate in a peaceful protest,” the crowdfunding platform justified its decision by saying that the protest has become an “occupation” of the Canadian capital.
Conservatives on both sides of the US/Canada border were outraged. Shortly after Morrisey’s tweet, Donald Trump Jr. called on Republican attorneys general across the US to “get people their $$$ back so it can be redirected to the truckers.”
Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, a vocal supporter of the truckers, called GoFundMe “professional thieves,” and blasted the platform for allowing ‘Black Lives Matter’ protesters, including the organizers of an anarchist squat in Seattle where several people were killed, to use the platform freely.
Within hours of GoFundMe’s decision, another fundraising campaign for the truckers was opened on Christian crowdfunding platform GiveSendGo. Amid heavy web traffic bringing the site down on several occasions since Friday evening, the campaign has raised more than $800,000 by the time of this article’s publication.