Police arrested a mom who tried to swindle kindhearted donors out of thousands of dollars to pay for her son's fake funeral.
Over recent years, crowdfunding sites have become a lifeline for folks in need. These services help connect families and individuals who need financial support to deal with unexpected circumstances such as illnesses, injuries, and a loved one's death. As anyone who has buried a loved one will tell you, funeral expenses can be quite costly, which is why crowdfunding sites such as GoFundMe are so important. However, unfortunately, some chose to misuse these well-intentioned services for their personal greed. One such person is a mother from Ocean County, New Jersey, who attempted to defraud the public out of thousands of dollars after she opened campaigns claiming that she was using the money to pay for her four-year-old son's funeral.
Police say that Holly Garcia made multiple fake accounts on GoFundMe to fool people into donating money. The Burlington County Prosecutor's Office later posted a news release on the county's Facebook page explaining how Garcia allegedly used a picture of her son on "a GoFundMe campaign seeking $5,000 for funeral expenses for a child who had reportedly died from cancer." The truth is that her son is still alive and was living with his adoptive parents.
Despite surrendering her parental rights, police say Garica still tried to use his image in several fraudulent campaigns telling folks she needed money for expenses such as having her son's body cremated to raising him after he went blind in one eye. The news release read:
"Further investigation determined that Garcia had created multiple fictitious GoFundMe campaigns seeking money for the following: an urn for her dead son’s ashes; assistance for her 4-year-old son who is going blind in one eye (and whose father had died); assistance for her unborn child; a stroller for her two-month-old son, who was born premature; and assistance raising rent money for an apartment, because she claimed she was four-months pregnant and homeless."
However, her plans came crashing down around her after her son's adoptive parents discovered the website's photo. The Daily Mail reports, they immediately contacted authorities, which sparked an investigation by the Pemberton Twp. Police Department, who, with assistance from the BCPO Financial Crimes Unit, managed to uncover how Garcia had tried to scam people out of over $11,000 via multiple campaigns. The post said:
"The total amount requested by Garcia through all of the campaigns was $11,350. The campaigns were ended by the company after being notified by law enforcement that they were not legitimate. Garcia did not receive any contributions before they were taken down."
On September 24, police arrested Garcia and charged her with Attempted Theft by Deception in the third-degree and Computer Criminal Activity in the second-degree. She is also being "prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Remy, supervisor of the BCPO Financial Crimes Unit."
The release further explains that the woman was "released last week following an initial appearance in Superior Court in Mount Holly," and evidence in the case will now go before a grand jury who will ultimately decide if Garcia will be indicted and stand trial.