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GoFundMe investigated for blocking donations to Canadian truckers

Four states are investigating GoFundMe after the fundraising service banned donations to an organization of truckers protesting COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in Canada.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said on Wednesday that his office will investigate GoFundMe for blocking and withholding donations already made to the platform through its website. Removing the campaign from its site could violate the state's Deceptive Trade Practices Act, he said.

"GoFundMe's response to an anti-mandate, pro-liberty movement should ring alarm bells to anyone using the donation platform and, more broadly, any American wanting to protect their constitutional rights," Attorney General Paxton said in a statement. "Many Texans donated to this worthy cause. I am acting to protect Texas consumers so that they know where their hard-earned money is going, rather than allowing GoFundMe to divert money to another cause without the consent of Texas citizens." 

Why GoFundMe says it blocked donations

GoFundMe announced last week that it would halt any fundraisers that violated its terms of service, including campaigns that condone violence. GoFundMe on February 4 said it was taking down Canadian truckers' "Freedom Convoy" campaign protesting vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions after determining that the demonstrations had become what the company termed an "occupation," citing "police reports of violence and other unlawful activity."

GoFundMe initially said it would give supporters of the now-defunct campaign, which raised nearly $8 million, until February 19 to request refunds. It also said it would direct any remaining donations to "credible and established charities chosen by the Freedom Convoy 2022 organizers and verified by GoFundMe."

But the company later reversed course, saying it would automatically refund campaign supporters in order to simplify the process. Donors can expect refunds within 10 business days, according to GoFundMe.

Homeland Security warns that American truck drivers are planning a COVID-19 protest similar to Canada convoy 04:56

Florida, Missouri and West Virginia are also probing GoFundMe's handling of the "Freedom Convoy" campaign. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt alleged that GoFundMe is trying to silence the group, while Florida Governor Ron DeSantis accused the company of fraud when it said it would funnel funds to other charities. 

"It is a fraud for @gofundme to commandeer $9M in donations sent to support truckers and give it to causes of their own choosing," the governor wrote on Twitter. "I will work with @AGAshleyMoody to investigate these deceptive practices — these donors should be given a refund." 

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey also said GoFundMe's initial plan to redirect money violated state law and asked residents to report any deceptive acts or practices by GoFundMe.

"#GoFundMe now won't honor #FreedomConvoy donations and will instead redirect to other charities? In WV, organizations must not deceive donors and engage in deceptive advertising practices. If you've been victimized by a deceptive act or practice, let us know!" Morrisey wrote on Twitter before the company vowed to automatically refund contributors. 

GoFundMe did not immediately reply to CBS MoneyWatch's request for comment on the investigations. 

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