NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A family already grieving the loss of their young daughter was dealt another blow after her name was used in a scheme to steal money just days following her death.
As CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported Wednesday, 9-year-old Rebecca Ramnarine of St. Albans, Queens was killed in a car accident on Sunday while on her way home from church.
“Why would you take my pain and suffering and try to get some monetary gain out of it?” said Rebecca’s father Richard Ramnarine.
It’s only been three days since Richard and his wife Abiola lost Rebecca in a devastating car crash in Canarsie, Brooklyn.
The family said they felt victimized again Wednesday morning when they found out someone set up a fraudulent website, collecting money in their name.
“I literally went crazy. I started bawling,” said Rebecca’s mother, Abiola. “How can you be this crazy that you’re going to exploit my pain and turn it into money gained for you?!”
The fake fundraiser was set up on the fundraising website Gofundme.com, Sanchez reported.
People claiming to be Rebecca’s grieving aunt and uncle said they had a goal to raise $10,000 for the funeral.
“I think that scammers look at the news, look for opportunities where they know where American generosity is going to come to play,” said Ken Berger, of Charity Navigator.
Bergen said phony fundraisers often pop up after tragedies and natural disasters. He also said there is an easy way for people to protect themselves.
“Unless you know the people personally that are putting up these kinds of sites, don’t do it,” he said.
The Ramnarines met with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, whose fraud division shut down the fake fundraising site after tracking down the California bank account it was linked to.
The Ramnarines said they are grateful the fund was frozen before anyone could cash in.
“That outpouring of love has been unbelievable and it will help us get through this time now and beyond,” Richard said.
Those who donated to the fundraiser will get their money back, Sanchez reported.
A Long Island man was arrested and charged in connection with the crash that killed Rebecca and injured five others.
Kenneth Palache, 62, of Huntington, was charged with criminally negligent homicide, leaving the scene of an accident and operating a motor vehicle without a license.
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