The organizer of a GoFundMe campaign for a local philanthropic couple, the Bukers, has been charged with fraud.
Amy Tomassetti, the organizer of the GoFundMe campaign and online auction for Theresa and Barry Buker, was charged on Feb. 13.
“We can confirm that Amy Tomassetti, 32, of Gravenhurst has been charged with one count of Fraud under $5,000. She will appear in court on March 13, 2018. This charge is in relation to an investigation involving a GoFundMe page.” stated the Bracebridge OPP.
In September 2017, Barry Bukers’ unexpected health complications led to a community online auction, raffles and a GoFundMe campaign. Tomassetti, a longtime acquaintance of the couple, opened the GoFundMe page for the Bukers. Months had passed, however, and the Bukers never received the funds.
Tomassetti reached out to police herself following what she claimed was harassment by the Bukers asking her about the missing funds. Theresa Buker points out that important fact.
“Barry and I did not involve the OPP. She did; she called the OPP on Nov. 27 to have them come and tell us to stop asking her for money. Just to clarify, we were not the ones who started the OPP investigation in the beginning,” said Theresa.
Theresa Buker said that they have not received the outstanding donations from GoFundMe. She is waiting for documents from the police to submit to the site. She will then await instructions on how to retrieve their money.
“We are saddened at this turn of events. By her using our personal and ministry names to raise funds falsely, it has hurt. It has hurt more than just Barry and I. It has hurt hundreds of people, businesses, and even other humanitarian organizations throughout the region. Even other local GoFundMe campaigns have been affected with lower-than-expected fundraising results. This has hurt everyone,” said Theresa.
This publication reached out to GoFundMe to confirm whether the Bukers will be receiving the funds, which the company has confirmed are guaranteed following the police investigation. As of the publishing of this article GoFundMe has not responded to our request for comment.
The Bukers founded their home-based humanitarian aid service, Free Stuff 4 Daily Needs, a non-profit program aimed at keeping people warm, dry and fed in 1999. The organization, according to its website, assists more than 2,000 people in need each year with their individual needs, including beds, appliances, clothes, kitchen items and more.
Items are donated by community members.
Barry Buker became ill in September, prompting the call for community support for the couple.
Tomassetti could not be reached for comment and has deleted her social media accounts.
Read the full story over at Muskoka Region.