The crowdsourced fundraising website GoFundMe removed a bogus campaign this week that it said was fraudulently trying to raise $1 million for actress Amber Heard after she lost a defamation lawsuit brought by her ex-husband, actor Johnny Depp.
The since-removed page set up by someone identifying herself as Kimberly Moore was trying to raise $1 million to help Heard pay the $8.35 million she owes Depp for defaming him in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed, the entertainment news outlet TMZ reported.
"I believe Amber, and social media protected the abuser," Moore reportedly said in the appeal. "The judgment exceeds her net worth. It's so sad that he was able to get away with the abuse. The judgment furthers that abuse. If you can please help her."
A spokesperson for the fundraising website told TMZ that it quickly flagged the scam fundraiser before "a substantial" amount of money was raised and after it determined that the campaign had no relation to Heard or her legal team.
Newsweek reported Saturday that some celebrities are coming out in support of Heard following the six-week trial in which Depp sued her for $50 million in punitive damages and in compensatory damages for lost acting work due to the abuse allegations she made against him.
The report said Heard co-authored the op-ed with the American Civil Liberties Union.
GoFundMe said it protects users from falling victims to such pages and encourages users to report campaigns they believe may be fraudulent.
"GoFundMe is dedicated to empowering people to help people," a page on the website states. "An overwhelming majority of fundraisers on the site are safe and legitimate, as fraudulent fundraisers make up less than one-tenth of 1% of all fundraisers on GoFundMe. In the rare instance that someone does create a misleading fundraiser with the intention of taking advantage of others' generosity, GoFundMe takes swift action to resolve the issue."
In January 2017, Money reported that the site has had its share of bogus fundraisers that have victimized well-meaning people trying to help others.
"It's unfortunate that people take advantage of people trying to do the right thing, but that's how criminals work," cybersecurity and fraud expert Joseph Steinberg told the publication at the time. "If there's money there, criminals are going to try to exploit that environment."
One of the more famous fraudulent campaigns involved a trio of New Jersey residents that tried to scam hundreds of thousands of dollars from donors with a story about a homeless man giving a woman his last $20 for gas after she was stranded without fuel on a highway off-ramp in Philadelphia.
As a return for that "kindness," the woman, Katelyn McClure, and her then-boyfriend, Mark D'Amico, started a GoFundMe campaign to help out the homeless man, Johnny Bobbitt, raising almost $400,000, according to the report.
The story ended up being bogus and a plot by the three to get money from people of goodwill.
D'Amico was sentenced to a 27-month jail term and fined $20,000 for his role in the conspiracy in April.
Both Bobbitt and McClure pleaded guilty to their charges in 2020 and are awaiting sentencing, the Courier Post reported in April.
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