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Updated: B.C. family devastated by house fire yet to see raised GoFundMe money

After losing his wife in a house fire, Michael Van Gool said he still hasn’t received the money

Update: 4:30 p.m.

Bill Henthorn responded to interview requests from the Capital News by sending a Facebook statement.

In it, he said the GoFundMe raised $12,400 and ended June 29, and the account was set up to transfer to an account attached to his profile. Henthorn said TD Bank transfered the money from that account to cover a transaction in his personal account.

Henthorn said the CRA then seized the money from his account to pay a tax debt and had to take out a loan to secure the money for Van Gool. He said he is also dealing with a personal health issue.

He said the money has been deposited to Van Gool’s friend’s account, but the account was placed on hold, and it will most likely be available to Van Gool mid week.

Emails have been sent to the Canadian Revenue Agency.

Original:

After losing their loved one in a house fire in March, a Kelowna family still hasn’t seen a cent of the money raised from a GoFundMe for them, created by a local man.

Michael Van Gool’s wife Loree Dubuque died in the fire. At the time, a GoFundMe was set up to raise money for the family.

READ MORE: Money being raised for family of Kelowna fire victim

But Van Gool said he has yet to receive the $10,000 that was raised and is considering his legal options.

“It’s getting to the point that nothing surprises me anymore,” Van Gool said.

He said Bill Henthorn, who started the GoFundMe page, promised to send the money to Van Gool’s friend, but the transfer was frozen. The GoFundMe ended in June, he said.

“I feel sorry for the 129 people that helped me out, I kind of feel guilty,” he said.

The fire destroyed his home, but he managed to find a rental with his two sons in Rutland while it’s being rebuilt. It has the bare necessities and furniture, and BBQs have been held for him as fundraisers and a bike and helmet were donated to his son, he said. Compared to the one individual, “thousands of people have helped out,” he said.

READ MORE: Bottle drive held for Kelowna fire victim’s family

He wants the GoFundMe creator to be held accountable for his actions, and he would like GoFundMe to have tougher verification policies, he said.

“I find it to be too much of a loose cannon,” he said, adding he doesn’t think it’s the website’s fault. If there was a GoFundMe set up to support someone who lost their family, he would donate to it, but would take precautions to verify the family, he said.

“The accounts have to be registered to the person the moment it’s opened up or something,” Van Gool said.

The GoFundMe’s creator Bill Henthorn spoke to the Capital News in a previous interview in March, saying he started the GoFundMe because he wanted to help.

Kelowna resident Angela Weber originally sent letters to the media last week about her concerns with the GoFundMe and Weber and a group of other mothers were part of a Springvalley Elementary school bottle drive that supported Van Gool, she said. Weber’s children also go to the school with Van Gool’s.

“(Bill Henthorn)’s always had an excuse on why he couldn’t get the money to Mike. He fell ill, his niece was missing. It was always something to why he couldn’t go to the bank,” she said. “Bill Heathorn has deposited the money into one (our accounts) and we can’t access the money as it’s been flagged for fraud.”

Weber watched the GoFundMe raise more than $10,000 in June and began asking about it in July, she said.

“I can confirm that we are looking into this and have reached out to the campaign organizer for more information. We will make sure the Van Gool family receives the funds raised on their behalf. All GoFundMe campaigns are backed by the GoFundMe Guarantee, which ensures that all funds go to the right places,” said an email from Rachel Hollis at GoFundMe.

The GoFundMe’s page said if funds aren’t delievered to the right person, the website will donate the amount.

Messages sent to Henthorn’s Facebook page Thursday and Saturday requesting an interview were unanswered as of Saturday, Aug. 25.

Emails have been sent to the RCMP for comment.

@carliberry_
carli.berry@kelownacapnews.com

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