A Florida woman has been arrested and charged with setting up a fraudulent GoFundMe account to raise $12,000. The account was purportedly set up to assist the families of three men who were killed in July as part of a triple homicide.
Amanda Brown, 32, was arrested last week in connection to the account, WFLA reported, and “is facing charges related to fraud, grand theft and using the identities of deceased persons.”
In July, best friends Brandon Rollins, 27, Keven Springfield, 30, and Damion Tillman, 23, were set for some night fishing at Lake Streety in Frostproof, Florida. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office would tell the media that it appears Rollins and Springfield arrived after Tillman and witnessed their friend getting beaten. One or more attackers shot Rollins and Springfield. Rollins was reportedly still alive after the attackers left, and he called his father for help.
Rollins’ father, Cyril, rushed to help his son but forgot his cellphone.
“When I got there, I was looking for my son. It was a mess,” Cyril told WFLA. “I found my son. I was holding him. He was telling me what happened, but I was too shocked to know what was going on.”
Cyril said he drove to the nearest convenience store to call 911 but by the time authorities arrived, all three men had died.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said called the murder scene “horrific,” saying he had “been to a lot of murder scenes in my life, and this ranks among the worst.”
As the New York Post reported at the time, Judd wouldn’t directly say the attackers knew the victims but suggested the crime wasn’t random.
“You don’t just stumble upon somebody out here,” Judd said. “This is a dirt road, a clay dirt road, way out in the middle of what we call God’s country, on the way to a nice little fishing lake. It’s not like there’s a lot of people around here.”
Following news reports of the crime, the victims’ families received an outpouring of support from the community, including donations to Polk Sheriff’s Charities, which covered all the funeral expenses for the three men.
But a now-defunct GoFundMe page, titled “Polk County Triple Homicide, Family Expenses,” caught the attention of the victims’ families. Dottie Payton, mother of Rollins, was one of the family members who found the GoFundMe page created by Brown.
“She used my name, used my son’s picture to gather money that these people thought they were giving to my family,” Payton told WFLA.
The family members notified the Sheriff’s Office, which investigated and determined that Brown deposited nearly $12,000 raised into her own accounts for personal use.
“Amanda Brown stated she intended to give the funds to the families listed on the account, however, once she began receiving the funds, she began spending it for personal use,” said an affidavit from the Sheriff’s office.
“I have no use for her. She can rot,” Payton told WFLA of Brown’s arrest. “She got caught and now she’s going to have to pay for what she did.”
Tony “TJ” Wiggins, 26, has been arrested and charged in connection to the murders, WFLA reported. Police believe the crime took place after a dispute over a truck engine.