- State Chief Financial Officer publicly endorsed House Bil 1185 on Monday, which seeks to make it harder for crowdfunding platforms to harbor fraudulent campaigns
- The bill mandates that a crowdfunding organizer provides financial records to the hosting platform showing all donations received and expended by the campaign.
- The hosting platform would also be required to publish all received accountings on its website.
- Crowdfunding scams are common following large-scale disasters, like the Surfside condo collapse or Hurricane Ian.
State Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis publicly endorsed House Bill 1185 on Monday. If adopted, the legislation would add transparency measures in Florida law to combat crowdfunding charity scams.
The bill, filed on Monday by Sen. Nick DiCeglie and Rep. Mike Giallombardo, mandates that a crowdfunding organizer must provide accounting records to the hosting platform that shows all donations received and expended by the campaign. Moreover, the hosting platform would be required to publish all received accountings on its website.
“As we saw first-hand following tragedies like the Surfside condo collapse and Hurricane Ian, crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe allow fraudulent accounts to run rampant across the internet, tugging at the heart-strings of those that want to help victims of a terrible disaster,” said Patronis. “Often these accounts are outright scams, and you have no idea where your money is going or if it will be used to aid the victims of these tragedies.”
Crowdfunding scams have long been a target of Patronis, who sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission in 2021 seeking assistance in managing fraudulent GoFundMe campaigns following the Surfside condo collapse in Miami.
In the wake of the condo’s collapse, Attorney General Ashley Moody issued a consumer alert warning of potential fundraising scams, leading the state to procure a list of verified charity organizations. Following the alert, Patronis stated that scammers were found to have created fake GoFundMe sites to trick people into donating money to them, rather than to actual benefit groups.
“Enough is enough,” said Patronis. “This year, I’m calling on the Florida Legislature to help pass meaningful consumer protections to crack down on crowdsourced fraud by adding much-needed transparency. Unfortunately, tragedy will strike Florida again, and we must step up and stop these scams from using disasters to defraud well-meaning Floridians to line their own pockets.”
A similar warning was issued by the state following the landfall of Hurricane Ian after reports of door-to-door solicitors and fraudulent charity organizations surfaced. Patronis warned of requests seeking payment in gift cards or cash, directing individuals looking to contribute to the Florida Disaster Fund.