As the world learns of the 22 innocent people killed in the Manchester terror attack, a fraudster has stolen a US student’s ID and created a fake GoFundMe account, claiming she was one of the victims.
Using the name Mike Collins, the scammer said his cousin “Poppy” had been killed at Ariana Grande’s Manchester Arena concert by suspected suicide bomber Salman Abedi.
The image supplied on the crowdfunding page was actually that of Arizona student Nisa Ayral, and not a Manchester victim, but that didn’t stop “Mike” from pleading for donations.
“With grief and heartache I share with you that my family lost our dear Poppy in the Manchester Arena Bombing at the Ariana Grande concert on Monday May 22,” he wrote.
“The photo I chose is a photo from Ariana's concert last year, which Poppy attended. She was a loyal fan who loved Ariana's music.
“Poppy was 17 and my closest cousin. She was beautiful, smart, funny and a kind person who did not deserve what she got.
“It is hard to think that just two days ago I was with her and now in the blink of an eye she's no longer in this world, but in a better place.”
The 19-year-old fraud victim said she felt sick her image had been used to exploit caring people at such an emotional time.
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“It's horrific to think that someone could feed off people's emotions like that and use a tragedy for personal benefit,” Miss Ayral said of the GoFundMe page.
“We should be helping people, not trying to scam others out of money during a time of need.”
The page has since been taken down and all funds frozen, with a spokesman for GoFundMe confirming they were closely “monitoring related campaigns around the clock”.
'In these situations GoFundMe engages our emergency procedure - vetting every single campaign to check that they're safe for donors to give to.
'We do this by contacting organisers, making sure they are who they say they are and that they have a clear way of getting the money to the intended recipient.
“This has happened just a handful of times this week, and were all caught before they had raised any money."