PADUCAH — We have a scam alert for you. Somebody is posing as the city of Paducah on Facebook.
This isn't the first time a page like this has been created. It's supposed to be funny, but over the weekend a page shared an edited photo claiming a local landmark was vandalized.
They even set up a GoFundMe account claiming to raise money to fix it. The page is a scam. Do not donate.
Local musician Reggie Lafaye gives back to the community with his music, but when he saw the post online, he gave back with his credit card — thinking the fundraiser was real.
"I thought 'Oh my gosh, that's terrible,' I just pulled out my credit card and said 'I'm helping them. That's what I'm going to do,' There wasn't a second thought. When I saw Paducah was leading it, I thought, yeah, I'm in," Lafaye said.
He donated $50.
The post looks like it is written by the city of Paducah, offering money for information on whoever vandalized what the page calls the Chief Paduke statue. It's actually the Wacinton statue. That's one of the first signs of a scam: incorrect information.
The statue sits on the side of one of Paducah's busiest roads. Drivers can see the statue is intact. The photo online is a bad case of digital editing.
Lafaye's friend told him it was a scam, but it was too late. He reported the GoFundMe page as a fraud and canceled his credit card.
Paducah Police detectives investigate scams throughout the year. Detective Jason Hicks said there are signs to look for. "A lot of times the email will have bad grammar. There will be several misspellings, commas out of place, run-on sentences and sentences that just don't make sense," Hicks said.
The GoFundMe page description had several of those signs.
"Even if they are having fun with it, it is not the right thing to do. They need to know that," Lafaye said. He is now waiting to get his money back.
GoFundMe has several ways to report fraudulent pages, and the site has systems in place to make sure people who fall for scams can get a refund. As of when this story aired, the fake GoFundMe page is still up. You can report it by going to the page, scrolling to the bottom, and clicking "report fundraiser."
As for the Facebook page that originally posted about the "fundraiser," it seems to have been deleted from Facebook.
There is another "City of Paducah Official" parody page that is still up, but that page is not involved in this. The person who runs that page actually posted about the scam happening on the other Facebook page and warned people not to fall for it.
If you see scams online like this, you can call your local law enforcement agency and report it. It is a chargeable offense.