GoFundMe Investigates Homeless Teen’s Story; Freezes $184k in Donations
The story of Fred Barley, a teen who biked for six hours to register for classes at Gordon State College, and later found about to sleep on the school grounds in a tent, pulled at the heart strings of a Georgia community, including one Casey Blaney.
To help the teen, Blaney set up a GoFundMe page on July 12 with the hope of providing financial assistance to the 19-year-old biology major.
In three days, more than $60,000 was raised by people across the world.
By July 22, as the total hit just over $184,000, donations were suspended.
The reason, Blaney’s lawyer said, was because the amount donated was substantial.
“She felt that continuing to accept funds would be taking advantage of the public,” Wright Gammon told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on July 22.
But, in a Facebook post on July 27, Blaney said the authenticity of Barley’s story had come into question and asked GoFundMe to review the campaign.
Bobby Whithorne, a GoFundMe spokesman said in a statement to AJC, “The funds raised are placed on hold and cannot be withdrawn until all the questions have been answered. … If they are not, we will refund the donors.”
On a Facebook page under his name, Barley denied any claims his story might not be completely true.
Some users on Facebook questioned the motives behind Blaney’s decision to discontinue the page, accusing her of pocketing the money. Blaney refuted those claims.
“All of the funds are going into an educational trust,” Blaney wrote on the “Success for Fred” Facebook page last week. “I am a wife and a mother and cannot continue to handle the multitude of calls, texts, social media requests and comments. The trust will be in place as soon as the attorney completes the paperwork. I will refer everyone to the trustee upon the completion of the trust.”
On Facebook, Barley said he hasn’t spoken to Blaney or her attorney.
“I DO NOT AND I REPEAT DO NOT CONSENT to the trustee committee they have established. I have not spoken to her lawyer. The only trust I would and will put my money into is one that I have chosen with a trustee and lawyer I have,” reads the Facebook post.
In another post, Barley wrote that he has yet to receive any of the raised money.