(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost wants to hear from Ohioans impacted by GoFundMe’s initial decision to refund or redirect donations given to demonstrators protesting COVID-19 restrictions in Canada.
“It is deeply troubling that a professional fundraiser holding donations in trust would think they have the right to unilaterally redistribute donations,” Yost said.
“If you’re an Ohioan that donated to the #FreedomConvoy through GoFundMe, I want to hear from you.”
On Friday, the crowdfunding site GoFundMe announced it would redirect donations raised for demonstrators protesting COVID-19 measures in Canada, after the organization determined that the efforts had violated the site’s terms of service due to unlawful activity.
The fund had grown to around $10 million Canadian dollars or $7.8 million U.S. dollars.
“GoFundMe is bowing to public outrage by not directly distributing funds as they were intended,” Yost said. “I want to verify that GoFundMe isn’t playing God with other people’s money.”
GoFundMe has now reversed its earlier course and announced it will refund every dime of this fundraising drive automatically, without demand, thereby eliminating the possibility of “redirecting” donations with the consent of the donor.
“While that is a welcomed move, I am still interested in collecting information to make sure such things do not happen in the future,” Yost said. “Ohioans rely on their platform to do good, and their intentions and hopes should be honored.”
The Attorney General directed the agency’s Consumer Protection team to review GoFundMe’s terms of service to assess compliance with Ohio law.
Consumers who donated to the cause should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office by filing a consumer complaint online or by calling 800-282-0515.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section protects Ohioans from predatory and illegal business practices.
The section enforces laws that prohibit unfair and deceptive practices including but not limited to: false advertising, shoddy workmanship, and failure to perform services or to deliver goods.