Franklin mother, son warn of crowdfunding dangers after scam

(Photo: WKRN)

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WKRN) – Thousands of dollars raised through crowdfunding lost, as a family seeks possible legal action against one of their own. Now a Franklin mother warns others of the dangers of crowdfunding.

Online donations can be both a blessing, and a curse. For teenager Raymond Cruz, it was the latter. Despite $22,000 raised for cancer treatment relief, his family would only see a fraction.

Raymond Cruz has filled out a bit since April. From a stage four Ewings like Sarcoma diagnosis, to a hospital bedside ‘promposal’.

“Oh yeah I was really skinny, really boney,” he added. “Honestly I didn’t think I would be here today.”

Prom came and went, and so too did cancer.

“A month ago I got my tumor removed,” said Cruz. “Getting that tumor removed, I think it really hit me that I am cancer free, and I can move on with my life.”

But he and his mother Blandina can’t move on just yet.

They’re now in a fight with family, over missing GoFundMe funds.

“The GoFundMe was started back in January for my son Raymond, by a family member,” said Blandina Vergara-Cruz.

Donors from far and wide raised more than $22,000.

Raymond and his family though, say they only received $4,000.

When Blandina asked her family member about the remaining amount, she said she received story after story.

“I just thought the best thing was to contact GoFundMe,” said Vergara-Cruz. “Let them know what was going on.”

Blandina says GoFundMe, after an extensive back and forth email exchange, was unable to help.

She has since hired an attorney, and filed police reports in both Franklin, and in Las Vegas, Nevada, where the family member lives.

Blandina also wishes to send a message to those who donated.

“What was important to us was you guys took time to show our family that you cared,” said Vergara Cruz. “I think that’s one of the reasons why it was important for us to tell the donors that we appreciate you, but the money didn’t go to us. Hopefully something good comes out of this.”

For Raymond and Blandina, the show must go on. Raymond has since sang the national anthem in front of thousands at a Predators game.

He’s also sporting a new haircut.

“Yes more hair,” said Raymond. “All my family’s like Raymond you need to shave your face, I’m like I haven’t had hair for over a year.”

Blandina though is not backing down, hoping that others learn from their story.

“We hope that people that are watching, with all these hundreds of crowdfunding [ventures],” she noted. “That you’re just a little smarter, have a third person look at it, and make sure that you’re secure.”

News 2 reached out to both GoFundMe for comment, and the Las Vegas Police Department for an update in the case, but neither returned our requests. Authorities in Middle Tennessee deemed that the case was more civil in nature, not criminal.

News 2 also attempted to reach the family member, but did not hear back.