Fire victims say a friend set up a GoFundMe to help, later stole donations

DURHAM, North Carolina -- A family from Durham, North Carolina is in disbelief after a friend of theirs, who started up a GoFundMe to get them back on their feet after their house was badly burned in December, allegedly stole funds from the GoFundMe.

When their house was burned, the McLean family lost everything.

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The home they owned on Spring Creek Drive went up in flames on Christmas Eve of 2018.

After paying off the house, the family let their insurance lapse.

Lynette McLean said they were depending on the community's donations, but she said one of the people raising money for them stole it.

"Whatever she gets she deserves," McLean said about the woman she claims betrayed her. "I'm hurt only because I trusted you."

The mother of three said that friend offered to set up a GoFundMe page to help the family recover.

Firefighters ruled the fire an accident, stating the cause was an electrical issue near the home's deck.

McLean and her family eventually moved into an apartment. She said after weeks went by without hearing from her friend about the donations, she became suspicious.

"I was like gosh it's been a while for the money to not go through. Because my sister had started a page and we had received that money already," McLean said.

She then contacted GoFundMe.

"They said the money had been dispersed already and there was no more money in the account. But she told me it hadn't been," McLean said.

McLean said an estimated $575 was raised and then transferred out of the account.

"It would have helped me a lot. I have kids," she said

McLean alerted Durham police, who say they are actively working the case.

Right now McLean claims the woman is no where to be found. Overall, the incident has proved to be a hard lesson on friendship and trust.

"Just because they say they are going to help you doesn't mean they are really going to help you," she said.

The family said GoFundMe is also investigating this for possible fraud.

McLean added that she has 30 days to come up with $10,000 to demolish her charred home.

The family has since set up a GoFundMe page in their name and are asking the community for support.

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