A Georgia man is accused of exploiting the death of a teenage football player for his own financial gain.
Police announced the arrest of Justus Hughley, 22, on Friday, whom they arrested on computer theft charges after someone tipped off police to a fraudulent GoFundMe account that was accepting money on behalf of the family of Dylan Thomas.
Thomas was a 16-year-old Pike County High School linebacker who collapsed on a football field in September. His death was attributed to cardiac arrest resulting from a brain injury he sustained in a prior game, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Hughley tried to use Thomas' death to make money, police say.
“A bank account in Iowa was used by the suspect to attempt to transfer the money from [GoFundMe] to his personal account,” police wrote in a press release. “Fortunately the transaction was reported as fraudulent and no money was received by Hughley. Computer IP addresses and banking information provided by the suspect to [GoFundMe] and a bank were used to locate the suspect in Upson County.”
It’s unclear how much money was raised on the GoFundMe before it was shut down. Police said the investigation into the fraudulent scheme was lengthy because several subpoenas had to be served throughout the country in order to identify the perpetrator.
Hughley is awaiting a bond hearing. It’s unclear if he has a lawyer who can speak on his behalf at this time.
"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 refunded. Campaigns with misuse are very rare, making up less than one tenth of one percent of all GoFundMe campaigns," GoFundMe explained in a statement, provided to Oxygen.com. "In this case, the campaign received one donation, and the donor has been fully refunded. GoFundMe has banned the campaign organizer and we are cooperating with Law Enforcement."
[Photo: Pike County Sheriff’s Office]
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