ALABAMA (WIAT) — An Alabama woman was arrested Thursday on two charges of first-degree theft by deception, Alabama Attorney General Steven T. Marshall announced Friday.
37-year-old Jennifer Flynn Cataldo of Sterrett was arrested and taken to the Shelby County Jail with a bond set at $50,000 per charge.
Marshall says the joint investigation began April 13, 2017 with the FBI into Cataldo and her alleged use of two online GoFundMe campaigns, through which he says she received more than $38,000 from donors wishing to help with medical bills and a family trip to Disney. Both campaigns reportedly identified Cataldo as a terminal cancer patient, but Marshall says the investigation uncovered that claim was not true.
Investigators think Cataldo acted alone in the scheme. The case is expected to be prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Criminal Trials Division.
GoFundMe spokesperson Bobby Whithorne sent CBS 42 the following statement via email:
First, our platform is backed by the GoFundMe Guarantee, which means that in the rare case that GoFundMe, law enforcement or a user finds campaigns are misused, donors are fully protected will get their money back. Additionally, it’s important to remember that misuse is extremely rare on our platform. Campaigns with misuse make up less than one tenth of one percent of all campaigns. With that said, there are unfortunate and rare instances where people create campaigns with the intention to take advantage of others’ generosity. In the small handful of cases where misuse occurs, GoFundMe takes action to resolve the issue. The user has been banned, and we are working with law enforcement officials to make sure donors get their money back.”
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