GoFundMe, Kickstarter, and other crowdfunding sites can be great tools to help others out, whether it's to pay for medical bills, a funeral, or to fund an entrepreneur's dream.

However, like anything else on the internet, it can be subject to scams, despite the best efforts of these sites to keep scams off of their platforms.

Some major crowdfunding scams have been perpetuated in Texas. They range from extreme exaggeration to truly awful.


The Brick Lady

Roda Osman was charged with felony theft by deception in January 2024. Osman claimed that a man assaulted her with a brick outside a Houston club when she refused to give him her number.  She raised $42,000 but didn't see a penny of it.

Upon reviewing security footage, police discovered that a very drunk Osman allegedly hit a man, who retaliated by hitting her in the face with a water bottle, not a brick. Osman had a previous and equally dubious GoFundMe set up in 2020 for yet another attack, but there is no police report of that incident.

Stealing From The Dead

Fallon Mouton accepted a plea deal after she took off with $4000 from GoFundMe that she set up to "help" the family of a woman who died in childbirth.

Instead, she helped herself- for a brief time until she was caught. Mouton was forced to pay back the donations made to avoid probation, but not a permanent theft charge on her record.

The Son That Wasn't Missing

Janie Santana collected thousands in donations by claiming her son, Rudy Farias, had been missing after he went for a walk in Houston, TX in 2015. He was then "found" in 2023, but soon it was discovered that Rudy only ever went missing for one day, and had been living with his mother the entire time.

This Is Just Awful

In November 2023, Angel Varner of Amarillo, TX, set up a GoFundMe for her infant son who died. However, Varner was arrested the day after she set up the account for the alleged murder of her baby, who died of blunt-force trauma.

Varner may or may not have seen this as a money-making opportunity, so it might not be a scam per se. But this woman is certainly unworthy of receiving any profit from this horrible crime.

What to avoid being scammed by a crowdfunding campaign? Here are some tips to pick up on the phonies. Or you can do like I do- only donate to people I know or 501(c)3 charities.

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