Fraudulent Austin and Perry fundraisers preying on the public's generosity

Story by Lynda Figueredo/CBS12

JUPITER (CBS12) -- It was a heart-breaking decision for the families to end the search for missing Jupiter teens, Austin and Perry.

As the volunteers with DEEMI search and rescue continue to search for Austin and Perry, the families are warning fraudulent fundraisers and accounts are preying on the public's generosity.{}

In the wake of calling off the search for missing Tequesta teens Austin and Perry, Rob Thomas, a family friend who has managed the find Austin and Perry page sent out a notice to the thousands of followers, "there have been multiple cases of fake family member Facebook profiles, fundraisers and fraudulent Go Fund Me accounts."

DEEMI search and rescue executive Director Richard Bowie says there are certain things you can look for to avoid being scammed.{}

€They will have a place for you send checks or a specific person to contact,€ said Bowie.

Consumer Law Attorney Seth Koltin says it's important for the public to do their due diligence before donating to crowd funding platforms like go fund me.

"GoFundMe does not require their users to provide an update or any information for where the money goes, so to some extent you are throwing money into the dark," said Koltin.

GoFundMe admits they're well aware of that deception on their site but it says it can't investigate each account.

Their advice -- "Only donate to people you personally know and trust. If you doubt it, don't donate."

There have been instances where people have created go fund me accounts to fund their planes or boats to aid in the search for the missing teens. Koltin says when it comes to fundraising , transparency is key.

"Let people know so it doesn't look like you are doing something official,€ said Koltin. €If{} you are doing it on your own, be forthright about it. I've taken it upon myself to fly up and down the beaches and I need money for fuel, donate if you think I have a good cause."

GoFundMe says beware of pages that ask for direct payment and report those accounts because those could be scams.

Koltin suggests reporting any possible fraudulent activity to your local police authority or attorney general's office.

Official Facebook | FIND AUSTIN & PERRY

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