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Ferguson businesses wary of GoFundMe fraud while rebuilding

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FERGUSON, MO (KTVI) - The social media site GoFundMe  has proven to be a  boost for a variety of fundraising efforts.  It has certainly helped some Ferguson business owners hit by protestors.

One woman  however  recently discovered someone is collecting money in her name.  Kaye Mershon owns  Clip Appeal Barber Shop on West Florissant Ave.   Business slowed down dramatically following the Michael Brown Jr. shooting and the announcement of the Grand Jury decision according to owner Mershon. "We were shut down in August as well as in November.  We had a lot of challenges with access to the street."

The night it was announced former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted in the killing of Michael Brown Jr., Mershon was helpless as fires burned next door to her business.   Looters busted glass to enter her shop and stole supplies and equipment.

A few days later Mershon decided she would begin rebuilding with a GoFundMe account.   Mershon says her request was rejected when she tried to do it online.   "There was a campaign opened on my behalf which I was very surprised, because I didn't know the person who started the campaign."

After reporting the issue to the site`s fraud department  Mershon learned a woman in Georgia set up the account the day after the businesses burned. That bogus account was quickly shut down.

Mershon says donations are appreciated but she has a message for consumers. "I wanted people to know that you have to beware, you never know and to get out there and research yourself."

The account only generated $100 before it was shut down. Kaye Mershon never got any of that.  But she did start her own GoFundMe account and it is available for those who want to help.  She says the kindness of strangers has a healing effect.