A Port Byron couple facing charges including fraud after they allegedly set up a GoFundMe page to help with fabricated medical expenses for a child they claimed had been diagnosed with cancer appeared in Town of Montezuma court Wednesday night.
Martin and Jolene LaFrance entered not guilty pleas to charges of first degree scheme to defraud and endangering the welfare of a child.
An investigation by the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office determined that the child had never been diagnosed with cancer – nevertheless, the pair collected “several thousand dollars in donations.”
A GoFundMe spokesperson has issued the following statement when they were arrested:
The LaFrance Family has violated GoFundMe’s terms of service, and all donors will receive a refund. Additionally, they have been banned from our platform. It’s important to remember that our platform is backed by the GoFundMe Guarantee, which means that in the rare case that GoFundMe, law enforcement or a user finds campaigns are misused, donors are fully protected and will get their money back. Additionally, we are working with law enforcement on their investigation.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that misuse is extremely rare on our platform. Campaigns with misuse make up less than one tenth of one percent of all campaigns. With that said, there are unfortunate and rare instances where people create campaigns with the intention to take advantage of others’ generosity. In the small handful of cases where misuse occurs, GoFundMe takes action to resolve the issue.
The LaFrances were arrested on May 4.
If convicted, they could spend one to four years in prison.
They were released on their own recgonizance.