Police are urging the public to report any suspicious fundraising attempts linked to the White Island volcanic eruption.
The warning comes after two suspect crowd-funding pages for victims of the disaster were deactivated in the last week.
A GoFundMe fundraising page for two dead Australians was taken down today after the Herald put questions to police and the website’s officials.
The page was purportedly set up by a direct relative of the dead pair, saying he needed to raise money to cover his expenses, including car hire and international flights, during a difficult period for the family.
GoFundMe declined to answer direct questions about the page, but issued a general statement about its “trust and safety operations”.
“During a crisis moment where we witness a high volume of funds, like White Island, we set up dedicated systems and assign safety teams to monitor these crises as they unfold. They’re responsible for tracking, monitoring and verifying the pages linked to the specific incidents closely. Sometimes pages will be suspended while we await the necessary information we need to verify.
“We have a zero-tolerance policy for fraudulent behaviour and are committed to being the safest place to give. A third of our business is dedicated to keeping our platform safe.”
A police spokeswoman said for police to take any action the page would need to have been set up in New Zealand. However the man’s page appeared to be from Australia.
“Police urge anyone who has concerns about potentially suspicious fundraising to contact us straightway on 105.”
Any potential action would be determined on a case-by-case basis, the spokeswoman said.
Following the eruption on December 9, the Herald came across another page set up on GoFundMe from someone claiming he had “stupidly” sent his wife and young child on the White Island tour, but stayed back on the cruise line Ovation of the Seas.
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The person said his wife had been injured and died in his arms and his child badly burned.
The Herald put questions to authorities about the page, which was quickly taken down, but not before someone had donated $150.
A spokesperson for New Zealand’s Givealittle page said it had not come across any fake pages associated with the White Island tragedy.
“During moderation we establish the relationships and permission for pages and we carry out Identify Verification on the payee of a page before any funds are paid out.
“We also have the page reporting tool which is pretty effective if an non legitimate page
was set up.
“We would always refund donors in the event that a page is not legitimate or the page did not have permission,” the spokesperson said.