GoFundMe issues refunds for donations to Fort Pierce murder suspect

Company announced refunds after WPTV investigated

FORT PIERCE, Fla. -

Sheila Hamner, 74, was killed on Dec.10 in her home in Fort Pierce, her son Kenny Hamner was badly injured. 

 

Coworkers did what many do these days and created a GoFundMe page for him. 

 

Support poured in from friends, family and strangers. Within 22 days the site had collected over $6,000.

 

Then came the twist on Tuesday when St. Lucie County sheriff’s deputies arrested Hamner for the murder of his mother. 

 

The intent of the page was to raise funds for Sheila’s funeral and Kenny’s medical bills for the injuries he sustained that night. 

 

“We now believe those wounds were self-inflicted to further deter our investigation,” said St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara on Tuesday. 

 

Shortly after the news broke, people posted on the Kenny Hamner’s Fund page, demanding their money back. 

 

In the evening the site had been taken down, but the money had already been paid out to the family. 

 

NewsChannel 5 tried to get a hold of the creator of the page to see what those funds were used for, but got no response. 

 

Internet security expert and CEO of Infostream, Alan Crowetz warns everyone to make sure the cause of a GoFundMe page is legitimate before donating. The best way is if you know the person or research if there are news stories on the cause. 

 

“In this case, even if you did your homework, it would have checked out,” Crowetz said. 

 

GoFundMe has a policy to protect you from scams. If there is any evidence of misuse or deception you can get up to $1000 back. 

 

“The big debate is whether go fund me considered this a scam or not,” Crowetz said.

 

Crowetz said there are plenty of GoFundMe scams out there were people make up fake causes to get your money. But in the case of the Kenny Hamner fund, the money went where page creators said it would: to Kenny and his family. 

 

NewsChannel 5 contacted GoFundMe directly. After reviewing the case a spokesperson responded in an email saying: “GoFundMe will grant refunds to all donors.”

 

In order to claim a refund you need to click here and fill out a form. 

 

The spokesperson also said the money had been distributed to the family last month but he did not know what that money was used for. 

 

Crowetz said the money will not come from the family since it has already been distributed. 

 

"It's going to come directly from GoFundMe," Crowetz said. 

 

Juan Dyer, creator of the GoFundMe page for Kenny Hamner, sent the following communication to all donors: 

 

Dear Donor,

As you may have seen from the news reports, Kenny was charged with first-degree murder of his mother's death yesterday. Because of this recent event, I feel the nature of this tragedy has reached a level of complexity outside of the intended goal of honoring Sheila’s death and therefore have chosen to close this campaign while due process of law continues its course.

Access to funds collected was given to Sheila's daughter Lisa on Saturday, December 17th and I trust they have been used to honor Sheila. However, I understand that some people may choose to do something different with the funds given the recent news. I have contacted GoFundMe for direction and they said that a refund can be requested at www.GoFundMe.com/Guarantee

I’m very sorry to hear about the turn this tragedy has taken and acknowledge that you, just as me, meant to simply help a family in need. I hope these events do not deter you from helping others in any other time of need.
 

 

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