Rutland Police are warning of potential Internet scams targeting those who want to make donations in the wake of the crash that killed high school student Carly Ferro.
No specific charitable efforts have been deemed fraudulent. But city police Lt. Kevin Geno said Monday that police have opened an investigation into at least one of several online donation campaigns proclaiming to raise funds for the 17-year-old’s family.
“We’ve had some complaints and we’re checking them out,” Geno said.
Rutland City Public Schools Superintendent Mary Moran said via email that the only charity that the school district had verified as legitimate was the Vermont Golf Association Scholarship Fund.
Five days after Ferro’s life was cut short in a Cleveland Avenue crash that police say was caused by a driver huffing aerosol cans to get high, a number of memorial sites have sprung up on Facebook.
Three pages have been dedicated to Ferro on the social network site — “Carly Ferro Purple Ribbon Project”, “In Loving Memory of Carly Ferro” and “Memories of Carly Ferro.” Only the last of those pages is a “group page” meaning that it does not have an administrator who controls content.
The identities of the page creators and administrators of the other two pages isn’t spelled out.
However, the Purple Ribbon Project site only asks people to make and hang purple ribbons — Ferro’s favorite color — to keep her memory alive and the administrator of that page on Sunday night posted “It is wonderful that people want to donate for this special young lady, but please be cautious about who you donate to. There is a page that is selling keychains and brackets that seems to be fraudulent. Just Beware!”
On the In Loving Memory of Carly Ferro site, the administrator posted a message Monday afternoon declaring that the site would be closed due to suspicions about the sale of bracelets and key chains on the page.
“i am sorry but i am shutting this page down ... this page is not about me it is for people to come together and talk about carly and pay their respects to her family and now everyone is saying this is a scam and they are threatening myself and making rude and inconsiderate comments...” the administrator wrote.
A number of comments posted in recent days questioned the identity of the administrator and the validity of the fundraising effort.
On the fundraising website FundRazr, a Castleton State College student has established “Funds for Carly Ferro,” which asks for donations to help Ferro’s family. That fundraising effort was purportedly started by a 23-year-old Castleton business owner whose name and Facebook profile picture is listed next to the Funds for Carly Ferro listing.
A visit to the 23-year-old’s Facebook page found a post for the fundraising effort created Saturday but no other mention of Ferro or the crash anywhere else on the site. Also on the site was a fundraiser the former Castleton State College student started Sept. 25 on FundRazr asking people to “raise money for kids in your local community to be able to get through college with out all the financial stress.”
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