“A single mother of three is about to be evicted if the White House and Congress don’t act,” CNN mistakenly reported, leading to a surge in donations
A Las Vegas woman who raised more than $210,000 in donations on GoFundMe after claiming she “and her three daughters” were facing eviction has admitted the children are her boyfriend’s – and don’t live with her.
Dasha Kelly, 32, asked the public to “help my girls and I avoid eviction” on the fundraising site, which attracted thousands of donations after her story was featured on CNN.
“My daughter’s are aged 5, 6, and 8. Please help with anything you can,” Ms Kelly wrote on GoFundMe.
GoFundMe froze the fundraising account after it emerged the three girls were her boyfriend’s daughters from a previous relationship and only occasionally reside with Ms Kelly.
“The girls recognise me as a mother figure in their lives, but I am not their biological mother,” Ms Kelly wrote in an update to the GoFundMe page on Monday.
“This detail doesn’t change my original need for donations to avoid eviction, and I will be using the funds to get back on my feet and support my family.”
She said anyone who had donated could request a refund through GoFundMe.
The case attracted thousands of donors after being highlighted on three separate reports by CNN.
“A single mother of three is about to be evicted if the White House and Congress don’t act,” CNN correspondent Nick Watt told viewers on 2 August, as the federal government mulled an extension to the moratorium.
Mediaite reported anchor Kate Bolduan then asked Democratic Congresswoman Cori Bush: “You just heard the desperation from that mother. … What do you tell her?”
The next day, the network returned to the story about the “desperate mother” to highlight the $89,000 donated in the 24 hours since their story ran.
CNN host Erin Burnett returned to the story again on 4 August, again referring to Ms Kelly as a “mom of three girls” who had been forced to “sell her blood plasma”.
On Monday ,CNN issued an “update” to its online story.
“After CNN aired a story about her potential eviction, Dasha Kelly clarified to CNN that she is not the mother of the three children featured in the story. CNN has verified she takes care of the children in her home for periods of time. She says she originally described herself to CNN as a mother because she considers herself to be like one to them,” the correction read.
“GoFundMe tells CNN they are in close contact with Kelly and funds will stay on hold until they verify her information. GoFundMe says no funds have been withdrawn.”
CNN changed its original headline from “More than $170,000 raised in 24 hours for mother and three kids facing eviction,” to say, “More than $170,000 raised in 24 hours for Las Vegas woman facing eviction,” Mediaite reported.