Go Fund Me pages are an extremely popular way for anyone to raise money online. But a Polk County woman who is battling breast cancer says someone used that site to take advantage of her and cash in on more than $1,500.
Heather Specht remembers the heart-stopping moment when she thought her life was over. The 37-year-old mom of four was delivering baby number five as a surrogate for another couple.
"I got heart failure. My body kind of just shut down," Specht said.
That was just the beginning of her health battles.
"A few weeks after I was told my heart was healing, I found the lump," Specht said.
It was breast cancer, and three weeks ago, she underwent a double mastectomy.
On top of it all, she'd just started her dream job as a paramedic with Polk Fire Rescue and didn't have paid sick leave.
"People came out of nowhere, people I hadn't spoken to in years, asked what they could do," Specht said.
One friend made up some T-shirts and every dollar raised went straight to Heather. So when another former high school classmate offered to start a Go Fund Me page on her behalf, Heather was extremely grateful.
"I thought, 'How humbling. How wonderful,'" she said.
But after friends had trouble donating to the page just weeks after it launched, she got concerned and contacted the friend who created the page. She got the run-around, and ultimately decided to contact Go Fund Me. That's when Heather learned she was never made a beneficiary to the page, and the woman she thought was a friend cashed out all the donations.
"I had no idea that it was being taken out," Specht said.
The Go Fund Me page is now deleted. But Heather feels like she was taken advantage of and feels bad others were swindled.
"It didn't bother me at all it was taken from me. It bothered me it was taken from my friends and family and people who were just trying to do the right thing by helping," she said.
There are a couple lessons from Heather's story. First, if you should be getting money from a Go Fund Me page, make sure you are the designated beneficiary, that way money goes into your account.
And if you have questions, it never hurts to contact the page organizer and ask before giving away your hard earned dollars.