Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall says the Shelby County woman claimed she had terminal cancer and solicited at least $38,000 in donations from GoFundMe accounts for medical care.
37-year-old Jennifer Flynn Cataldo is from Sterrett, Alabama, just outside Birmingham. Marshall says his office worked with the FBI to investigate Cataldo after she solicited donations on two GoFundMe accounts. One for medical expenses and another for a trip to Disney World.
Investigators found out Cataldo did not have cancer. She was arrested Thursday by Shelby County deputies on warrants from the Attorney General’s office. Cataldo is charged with two counts of first-degree theft by deception. There’s a $50,000 bond on each charge.
GoFundMe issued the following statement to News Five about donor protection:
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 and 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.”
The Attorney General’s office is asking anyone who may have been a victim of the donation scam to contact their office at 334-353-1875.