POTSDAM – A family whose teenage son died by suicide after being extorted online now faces a second predator who tries to take advantage of their late loved one by setting up what appears to be a scam GoFundMe account in his name.
Darren E. Basford speaks with state police this week about another online exploitation against his son. 15-year-old Riley K. Basford committed suicide on Tuesday March 30 at his father’s home in Potsdam. Riley died after being extorted by a Facebook user posing as a woman. The user asked for $ 3,500 or they would share intimate photos Riley sent them. Her family said the threats surfaced just hours before her death, highlighting the sudden panic and helplessness their beloved child must have felt.
Almost a month after Riley’s death, a GoFundMe account was fraudulently created in the child’s name. It was called “Riley Basford’s Memorial”. There was a picture of Riley, and the creator was supposed to be David Basford. The description of the fund reads: “Please help us raise funds for my son’s memorial, we need this money to cover the expenses.”
The fund is false. Mr. Basford’s first name, of course, is not David, he has no relatives of that name, and there had previously been a real GoFundMe account in Riley’s name, which raised over $ 42,300. This GoFundMe was taken down shortly after Riley’s life celebration earlier this month. The family still plans to use this money to form a scholarship in Riley’s name, to help young people in the Potsdam area.
Mr Basford said GoFundMe was made aware of the fake account. The fundraising platform responded by email saying there was an investigation into this but could not share the results. GoFundMe told Mr Basford he should contact local police if he suspected fraudulent activity, which he did.
“I was like, ‘Come on, really? Mr. Basford said Wednesday. “Do you want to take advantage of my child?” I was furious.
The fake GoFundMe didn’t raise a dime, but that is not Mr Basford’s goal. Her son has already been extorted by a fake Facebook user. It’s bad enough trying to take advantage of a 15-year-old who has passed away, but now the family has to deal with a second fraudulent account trying to make money with their son. All Mr. Basford and Riley’s mother, Mary C. Rodee, and the rest of the family want to do is raise awareness of their child’s death.
“I can’t believe the people over there,” Riley’s father said. “I’ve seen a lot of harm, being a correctional sergeant now for 27 years, but you never know how bad people can be until you see some of this stuff, and it just came in.
Riley’s death came just three weeks after Shylynn M. Dixon, 18, died by suicide from a gunshot wound at her home in Lisbon. She too had been targeted for manipulation by someone to whom she had sent personal photos on Facebook.