Cyber criminals try to scam people donating to Gabby Petito Foundation
Those looking to help out in the wake of Gabby Petito’s death are being warned about cyber criminals trying to take advantage of their generosity.
The Gabby Petito Foundation was formed to keep the Blue Point native’s name alive and to use her story to help others, but scammers are creating fake social media accounts pretending to be from the foundation or one of Gabby’s relatives to steal money from donors.
Gabby’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, wrote on Twitter that “Our Gabby Petito Foundation page has been restricted. This is most likely due to all the fake pages that have been made already. Please be aware of that and we will get this resolved.”
One person says they were messaged by a fake Instagram account claiming to be Gabby’s father, Joe Petito.
The alleged scammer wrote, “This account was created to appreciate you for all your efforts on my daughter.”
The donor was then given an email address and asked for a donation via Zelle, saying “Support the foundation.”
Jennifer McNamara, a family friend of the Petitos, has also been raising money in Gabby’s name and calls the alleged scam “reprehensible.”
“People are at the hardest time of their lives right now, and on top of everything else that they’re dealing with, they have to deal with people scamming,” McNamara says. “It’s horrifying.”
Suffolk County Undersheriff Steven Kuehhas, a former prosecutor, says many of the scammers are probably overseas.
He says red flags could be in the form of misspellings, improper English and accounts with little to no followers.
Anyone still unsure can go straight to the foundation’s website.
“If you have that feeling that there’s something amiss, then do not go with it,” Kuehhas says. “It’s a fraud.”
Zelle says the person alleged to be using Joe Petito’s name will be blocked if they are found to be scamming others.
A Twitter page for the Gabby Petito Foundation appears to be up but has not yet been verified.