SWFL woman says supporter stole money from GoFundMe meant for her family

Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
(Right) WINK News Michelle Mackonochie speaks to (Left) Jessica Riner, who said an individual has been stealing money after they set up a GoFundMe account for Riner as a way to support her family after her husband and children’s father was killed in a crash by a drunk driver in Collier County in 2015. WINK News spoketo Riner Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. Credit: WINK News.

Still struggling to recover after losing her husband, a Southwest Florida woman now says she’s been victimized again.

We first told you about this tragic story in 2015, when Jessica Riner’s husband, Cecil Riner,  was killed because of a drunk driver in Collier County.

An acquaintance set up a GoFundMe account to help Jessica and her family stay afloat and cover expenses. But, now, she claims that person stole some of that money.

Jessica told us she is down $29,000 Thursday.

“Had an email from him saying that he’d seen the story and he felt really bad and he wanted to help,” Jessica said.

Jessica told me us wasn’t sure the GoFundMe me was legitimate, but her best friend vouched for it. So Jessica started receiving money. The first check in 2015 totaled $19,999. And she continued to receive money and support.

“The next two checks I got were March and April for $7,500. They both bounced,” Jessica said.

That’s when she contacted the man who set up the GoFundMe account.

“That’s when excuses started,” Jessica said. “And I had to start filling out different forms. It was supposedly complicated because of the type of account it was.”

“You’re really just focused on your day to day,” Jessica said. “You know, your kids are busy; your kids are playing sports; you’re not in the right mindset; your life changed drastically; you’re just trying to figure out what’s going on; and you’re not really worried about things like that.”

But, a year and a half ago, Jessica decided she had enough. She told us she was going to take legal action. So she started to see more money. She warns, if you are donating or receiving money, be careful.

Jessica told us the person who set up the account sent her $500 Thursday. But she’s not sure if or when she’ll get the rest of the money owed to her.

“People get themselves into bad situations,” Jessica said. “And I’m a forgiving person. I’m not trying to cause any issues. And, like I said, they do have a family, so I would never want to take anything from their family.”

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