Homeless Student’s GoFundMe Account Investigated
Earlier this month, JET reported the story of a 19-year-old homeless Georgia teen who claimed he biked for six hours to get to college.
As a result, support from people of all walks of life was extended to Fred Barley, who said it was safer for him to stay on campus in a tent than on the streets of his hometown of Conyers.
A GoFundMe account was created, but now it has been placed on hold pending an investigation into the teen’s story.
The inquiry marks a stark turn in a narrative that provided inspiration for many who recognized the teen as a symbol of defying the odds. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that GoFundMe officials suspended the $184,000 account until further notice.
Barnesville resident Casey Blaney started the page for Barley. Her lawyer, Wright Gammon, said the fundraiser was shut down because of the “sheer size of the amount of giving.”
“She felt that continuing to accept funds would be taking advantage of the public,” Gammon said. As a result, Blaney has been accused of keeping the money for herself, her lawyer said.
“Unfortunately, multiple questions have been raised about Fred’s story,” Blaney wrote on the Success for Fred Facebook group Wednesday. “We’ve received conflicting information about his initial story, and we just want to make sure the donors and the public have all of the information available to them before the funds are transferred to a trust to pay for his education.”
Barley was discovered by campus police two weeks ago. He says he traveled six hours by bike from Conyers to Barnesville to register for his second semester at Gordon State College. The officers found him living in a tent, and spent their own money to put him up in a hotel for two days.
Days ago, the bond between Blaney and Barley became strained after Blaney announced she was placing proceeds from the 5,700 donations in a trust. The 19-year-old took to Facebook to express his disapproval of Blaney’s decision, indicating that he would only place the money in a trust if he could choose the attorney and the trustee.
GoFundMe spokesman Bobby Whithorne said that the funds will not be available for withdrawal until all questions have been answered.
All donors will receive a refund if any shady business is detected. Check back for updates.