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A Florida woman has been accused of creating a fraudulent GoFundMe account to solicit donations for the families of a horrific triple-homicide that rocked the small community where they slayings took place this summer, then stealing the nearly $12,000 for herself.
Amanda Brown, 32, is now facing five counts of criminal use of personal ID, one count of grand theft, one count of misrepresentation of proceeds and one count of fraud after investigators said she used the donations as her own personal piggy bank, according to a statement from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
“This woman exploited family members of three young men who were brutally murdered,” Sheriff Grady Judd said. “While they were grieving, she used their personal information to solicit complete strangers to donate money to a fake GoFundMe account. It doesn’t get much lower than that.”
Brown allegedly claimed to be collecting money for the families of Brandon Rollins, Keven Springfield and Damion Tillman. All three men were shot in a horrific massacre on July 17, 2020 after they had met to go night-fishing at a local lake.
Just days after the three were killed, authorities arrested Tony “TJ” Wiggins, his girlfriend Mary Whittemore and William “Robert" Wiggins on various charges connected to the crime.
According to a portion of the affidavit released by the sheriff’s office in Brown’s case, authorities became aware of the bogus GoFundMe account after being contacted by a family member of one of the victims who had seen the fundraising page.
The page, which was titled “Polk County Triple Homicide, Family Expenses,” listed the creator of the account as an “Amy Lynn.”
“The victim spoke with other members of the families affected by the incident and confirmed the account was created without authorization,” the sheriff’s office said.
After several people who had seen the page reported it as fraudulent, the organizer closed the account and changed the organizer and beneficiary named on the account.
According to the affidavit, the deactivated account appeared to have raised $11,915 while in operation. After subpoenaing GoFundMe, the investigators learned that the account had been created on July 19, at 8:22 a.m. and were eventually able to link the account through investigation to Brown.
Brown allegedly used the money for her own needs, making in-store purchases at locations in Frostproof, Lake Wales, Lakeland, Avon Park, Babson Park and Sebring, the sheriff’s office said.
“We have her all over the county spending money,” Polk County Sheriff’s Office Chief Steve Lester told local station WFLA. “She’s at a Walmart, she’s at various ATM machines. She even went and paid a $1,300 water bill in Frostproof.”
Dottie Payton, the mother of homicide victim Brandon Rollins, told the outlet that Brown had used her personal details in the fake account.
“She used my name, used my son’s picture to gather money that these people thought they were giving to my family,” Payton said.
She called Brown’s scheme to take advantage of the grieving families “sick.”
“I have no use for her. She can rot,” Payton said. “She got caught and now she’s going to have to pay for what she did.”
Authorities were able to link the fake GoFundMe account to Brown after she was arrested on meth charges and a detective recognized that her booking photo looked similar to surveillance images captured in the case. She allegedly confessed to the crime during questioning, the affidavit said.
Her bail has been set for $28,000.
Judd said GoFundMe plans send a refund to those who donated to the fake account.
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