The family of Kyle Doan says unverified fundraisers are claiming to be assisting with search efforts to find the missing five-year-old.
“You get a moment where you're dwelling on him and that and that makes it hard,” said Brian Doan, Kyle's father. “I can't go by the school and look at his classroom. It's hard.”
It has been nearly two months since Kyle was swept away by floodwaters near San Miguel while on his way to school with his mother, Lindsy.
“I can't look at his picture for more than a couple of seconds because he’s staring at me in the face, and he's so happy,” Brian said in tears.
As if this pain was not enough, now they have one more thing to worry about.
“We’re finding out about fundraisings that we weren't, we weren't aware of,” Brian said. “A lot of people's hearts are in the right place, but when we see things crop up and we have no idea what's going on, it really makes people leery and second guess.”
Lindsy Doan took to Facebook to establish some of the legitimate community fundraisers such as Sensorio’s, Shelby Hood’s Bring Kyle Home t-shirts, and JoLin Kimble’s meal train.
To keep things simple, these are the official avenues to support the Doan family:
“We just have our official GoFundMe, that's Bring Kyle Home, and then the Venmo account is through Melanie Doan's name,” Brian explained.
The link to the GoFundMe, can be found here.
The username for a verified Venmo is @Melanie-Doan-5
KSBY News checked in with San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow to see what kind of legal consequences someone can face for fake fundraisers or scams.
“It is absolutely a crime, and somebody can go to prison for defrauding someone, taking money as stealing from them by false pretenses,” Dow explained.
Even the federal government could prosecute. The DA’s Office says a charge for false impersonation could be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony with up to three years in county jail, a false pretense charge of $950 or more can be a felony, and if you fail to report those donations to the IRS, you can face tax evasion charges.
“I would recommend that you only donate money directly to a person that you know is in need or really, preferably, to a charitable organization,” Dow recommended. “You can check with the Secretary of State to see if a charitable organization is registered or with the IRS. ”
Money donated to the Doan family is used to support search missions, they said.
“The food, lodgings for the group of dogs and their handlers and possible veterinary needs that might occur in the field, so we don't want to leave anything to chance,” Brian said. “That's what these donations are going to; they're going to the diesel for the excavators that were used.”
On Tuesday, Tony Cipolla, a spokesperson for the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office, provided an update on sheriff-led searches, saying, “We have ongoing plans for future searches. Those searches continue to be dependent on several factors like weather conditions and river levels.”
If you come across a fundraiser that seems suspicious, you can report it to the FBI, click here.
You can also reach out to SLO County Crime Stoppers at (805) 549-7867.