The online fundraising site GoFundMe is refunding all of the more than $21 million raised by a triple-amputee Air Force veteran for building a wall along the U.S/Mexico border, a company spokesman confirmed on Friday.
Brian Kolfage – who reportedly has a history of using deceptive techniques to spread conspiracy theories on Facebook for money – started the online campaign in December with the goal of raising $1 billion, which he said would be donated to the U.S. government to build the border wall.
But earlier on Friday, Kolfage posted on the campaign's page that the roughly $20,188,000 raised by more than 325,000 donors would instead go towards creating a non-profit organization that would build the wall itself.
“Our highly experienced team is highly confident that we can complete significant segments of the wall in less time, and for far less money, than the federal government, while meeting or exceeding all required regulatory, engineering, and environmental specifications,” Kolfage wrote.
Shortly after Kolfage changed how the funds would be used, GoFundMe spokesman Bobby Whithorne announced that all of the donors would be getting their money back.
“When the campaign was created, the campaign organizer specifically stated on the campaign page, 'If we don't reach our goal or come significantly close we will refund every single penny,'” Whithorne said in a statement to Task & Purpose. “He also stated on the campaign page, '100% of your donations will go to the Trump Wall. If for ANY reason we don't reach our goal we will refund your donation.'”
“However, that did not happen. This means all donors will receive a refund. If a donor does not want a refund, and they want their donation to go to the new organization, they must proactively elect to redirect their donation to that organization. If they do not take that step, they will automatically receive a full refund.
“All donors will be contacted by GoFundMe via email and they can also find the donor form directly on the campaign page.”
BuzzFeed reporter Brianna Sacks first tweeted on Friday that the border wall donations would be returned.
Kolfage could not be reached for comment on Friday. Task & Purpose's attempt to email him received an automated response saying he was so overwhelmed with messages that “it's literally impossible to respond to each.”
“We are moving ahead with a very strong game plan that has major backing that will literally shock the world,” the response continues. “We'll be announcing this massive plan in just days as we await our legal team to finish everything ensuring nothing is left unnoticed.
“We are so excited that we made it all happen, and we will be keeping our promise to so many people.”