Man sets up fake GoFundMe page to profit off high school player’s death, cops say
Credit: Pike County Sheriff's Office
Justus Hughley (left) is accused of using a fraudulent GoFundMe account to scam donors out of money that was supposed to go to the family of Dylan Thomas (right), who died during a high school football game in September.
A Middle Georgia man is accused of setting up a fraudulent GoFundMe account to accept money on behalf of the family of Dylan Thomas, a Pike County High School football player who died after collapsing on the field in September.
Justus Hughley, 22, of Upson County, was arrested and charged with computer theft for allegedly trying to steal monetary donations from people who believed they were sending money to the grieving Thomas family, the Pike County Sheriff's Office said in a Facebook post.
Thomas, a 17-year-old linebacker, died Sept. 30 of cardiac arrest from a traumatic brain injury during a game against Peach County two days prior, AJC.com previously reported.
Hughley allegedly used a bank account in Iowa to attempt to transfer the money from the GoFundMe account to his personal account, the post said.
GoFundMe spokesman Bart Jackson told AJC.com that Hughley’s campaign received one donation, which was reported as fraudulent, and the money was refunded to the donor. The amount of the donation was not provided.
"It’s important to remember that our platform is backed by the GoFundMe guarantee, which means that in the rare case that GoFundMe, law enforcement or a user finds campaigns are misused, donors are fully protected and will get refunded,” Jackson said in a statement. “Campaigns with misuse are very rare, making up less than one tenth of one percent of all GoFundMe campaigns.”
Authorities used computer IP addresses and banking information provided by Hughley to GoFundMe and a bank to track his location to Upson County, the sheriff’s office said.
He remains in the Pike County Jail without bond, the post said.
Zachary Hansen, a Georgia native, covers economic development and commercial real estate for the AJC. He's been with the newspaper since 2018 and enjoys diving into complex stories that affect people's lives.