The parents of a 10-year-old boy who allegedly created an online campaign to raise donations for expenses related to their son’s cancer have been accused of fraudulently accepting the funds after authorities discovered that the boy did not have the disease.
GoFundMe is an online platform designed to host fundraisers created by the general public who are seeking donations for personal needs. People have collected money for causes such as gaining assistance with finances when going through rough times, help with funding independent films, and a limitless number of other causes.
Martin and Jolene LaFrance are the parents of a 10-year-old little boy named CJ and they live in Port Byron, NY.
In the summer of 2017 after word spread that CJ, a football lover, was suffering from Hodgkin’s lymphoma the family was invited to the second practice of the season of the Syracuse University football team. CJ was given special treatment and awarded the opportunity to spend time with the players.
On August 31, following the visit to the football practice, the LaFrance’s allegedly started a GoFundMe account in order to ask for help with the expenses involved in CJ’s cancer treatment. They stated that the family was struggling financially because of their need to take time off from work to provide CJ the treatment he needed from the hospital on a regular basis and they set their donation goal at $8,000.
In January 2018 the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office was notified by someone reporting that they believed the LaFrance’s were scamming the donators on their GoFundMe page.
An investigation was opened regarding the claim and through their findings police believe that CJ LaFrance does not and never has had or been diagnosed with cancer.
During the time that it was active the GoFundMe raised over $3,300, and due to the accusations the page was not only removed but the LaFrance’s are also prohibited from further use of the site as they are considered to be in violation of the terms of service.
35-year-old Martin LaFrance, and Jolene LaFrance, also 35, were taken into custody on Friday and they are facing charges for scheme to defraud, and endangering the welfare of a child. They are scheduled to appear in court on May 16.
GoFundMe, who have lent their full cooperation during the police investigation, has stated that they will be giving refunds to the people who donated to the LaFrance’s.
If you or someone you love is suspected of fraud, contact Orange County criminal defense lawyer Staycie R. Sena at (949) 477-8088 for a consultation now.