Dasha Kelly was looking for help. She owed two grand in rent for her North Las Vegas home, and she and her three children were facing eviction. She was out of ideas and luck when she launched a GoFundMe donation page, which she titled “Help My Girls & I avoid eviction.”
“We were maintaining just fine before this pandemic hit. Now we are suffering,” Kelly, 32, wrote on her GoFundMe donation page. “As you all know it is entirely still to hot to be homeless. My daughter’s are aged 5, 6, and 8. Please help with anything you can.”
According to the Washington Post, the page raised no money at first, and then CNN ran a story on Aug. 2 and the page started popping. Kelly even sat for an interview with her three daughters and by the time the story aired kind-hearted souls began pouring out money. Kelly’s GoFundMe page raised some $100,000 despite her only asking for $2,000.
The Post notes that as of Monday the page had raised some $234,000.
Then the other shoe fell and the plan, if it can even be called that, fell apart. The real mother of the three girls came forward, and Kelly admitted that the three girls she sat with on the couch are not her biological daughters.
Kelly then added this update to her GoFundMe page:
I’ve been contacted with some concerns around my relationship to the girls mentioned on my fundraiser, and I’d like to clarify a couple things. The girls recognize me as a mother figure in their lives, but I am not their biological mother. My partner is the children’s father whom I do not live with, and I take care of these girls in my home for periods of time, and have for the last couple years. I’ve loved these girls unconditionally, and have been out of the kindness of my heart. I treat them as my daughters, and care for them in this way.
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. As mentioned in my last update, I will also be putting money aside for the girls in a savings account.
If you would prefer to receive a refund for your donation, please fill out the below form by August 23rd. For the next 14 days, GoFundMe will issue a full refund for any donor upon request.
As of Friday, the donation amount stands at $189,739.
The Post notes that GoFundMe has frozen the account and is giving people a few weeks to get refunds before they send the remaining funds to Kelly.
CNN did update its story to note that Kelly is not the girls’ biological mother but reporter Nick Watt noted that when he interviewed Kelly, everything that he saw led him to believe that she was their parent.
“The girls all called her mom, appeared to be very much at home and there was nothing we could see to raise any suspicion,” he said, the Post reports. Watt added that he learned that the kids belonged to someone else when “Shadia Hilo reached out to the news organization and, armed with birth certificates, proved she was their mother.”
“Shadia Hilo is understandably upset that someone else claimed to be the mother of three of her children, children she also cares for,” Watt said.
When CNN followed up with Kelly, she told the news station that she had described the children as her daughters because “she considers herself to be like a mother to those girls.”
From the Post:
Watt conceded that Kelly spends significant time caring for the girls in her apartment. Hilo told CNN, for example, that she had recently dropped the girls off with Kelly for a week, which is when they appeared on the TV segment from the woman’s couch.
“She clearly does look after those girls part of the time,” Watt said in his video update. “But in that GoFundMe post … she described the girls as her daughters, and that’s just not true.”