WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- What started out as a fundraising event for the Trump Wall, about $20 million worth of donations will now be paid back to the donors because its organizer changed the money’s destination.
- Initially, organizer Brian Kolfage’s goal is to donate all money for the building of a border wall; otherwise, all will be refunded.
- However, Kolfage refuted those statements and blamed media for reporting fake news.
Over $20 million is expected to be reimbursed by GoFundMe to all who donated to a veteran’s fundraiser to help build a border wall. However, Brian Kolfage, its organizer, disputed the refund claims saying media is falsely reporting the news.
When his GoFundMe page started last month, Kolfage pledged that “100% of your donations will go to the Trump Wall.” He also added that “if for ANY reason we don’t reach our goal we will refund your donation.”
But those statements were promptly deleted from his page because the direction of the money abruptly changed course. Instead of sending it to the federal government, Kolfage decided to send it to a self-created nonprofit called “We Build the Wall, Inc.” According to Kolfage, the reason for the change was because the federal government is “not able to accept donations anytime soon.”
On his fundraising page, Kolfage, a triple-amputee Iraq War veteran wrote: “Our highly experienced team is highly confident that we can complete significant segments of the wall in less time, and for far less money while meeting all required regulatory, engineering, and environmental specifications.”
He has also reportedly advised those who donated to the campaign to choose whether to send their money to the nonprofit, otherwise, GoFundMe will reimburse their donations.
Outraged over the news of the refund, Kolfage wrote on his page, “The media is falsely reporting all money is being refunded and it’s over. They are WRONG.”
The refunds surfaced because Kolfage broke the rules by redirecting the direction of the money, said Bobby Whithorne, GoFundMe spokesman, as told to The Hill.
Noting the change in statements on the page, Whithorne pointed out if the goal is not reached, Kolfage vowed to return all money to the donors.
“However, that did not happen. This means all donors will receive a refund,” said Whithorne.
When the campaign started, Kolfage assured the donors that it was not a scam, but the vet previously ran into trouble online.
In December, GoFundMe initiated a move to eliminate their platform of fake accounts that mislead people into thinking they were venues for legitimate political debate. NBC News reported that Kolfage’s Facebook page, Right Wing News was among those taken down.
BuzzFeed News also said on Thursday that Kolfage has allegedly a history of making money by spreading fake news including another GoFundMe page that generated thousands of dollars for veterans’ mentorship in military hospitals. However, reports said there was no record of his work nor any donations were ever made to the facility.