HUNTINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — There was outrage Monday from the family of a victim in the deadly Valentine’s Day school shooting in Florida, who say scammers were trying to trick people into donating money to fake fundraising pages.
The impersonators have been posing as Scott Beigel’s mother.
The outpouring of love that followed the loss of the Long Island native has meant the world to his parents. But now, there’s an outpouring of anger as they’ve learned of the scams in their beloved son’s name.
“I thought it was absolutely despicable,” Scott’s father, Michael Schulman, exclusively told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff. “Our son gave his life to save his students and then you have people who are trying to scam outer people to try to take advantage of that tragedy.”
Shulman says someone set up an unauthorized GoFundMe page, soliciting donations for funeral costs and to help the family.
“The GoFundMe page that we set up for our son is just the opposite,” Schulman said. “It’s not for us. We don’t want money for us. We want to keep his legacy alive.”
The family says the real website and fundraiser honors the 35-year-old teacher with a camp scholarship for underprivileged children. His mother, Linda Schulman, was in Parkland pushing for school safety on Monday.
She spoke with CBS2 by phone after seeing a fake Facebook profile with her name.
“I think it’s disgusting,” she said. “It’s the lowest of the low out there. I mean, how do you do that? It’s really despicable.”
Donors were outraged as well. One friend of Linda’s says she was drawn in by the fake profile.
“It seemed like it could have been my friend,” she said, claiming the fake profile thanked her for being there for her in her time of need. Then came the ask for money.
Donors have contacted police. Since then, Facebook and GoFundMe have removed the phony pages. Experts say the best way to spot a fake Facebook profile is to check if the profile picture is something easily lifted from the internet. No friends or posts are also a red flag.
Beigel’s parents say the kindness of so many won’t be overshadowed by the few. They just want generous donors to beware.
Experts say if you’re unsure of a GoFundMe page’s legitimacy, it’s best to contact the organizer directly.