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News Every Day |

What’s really going on with the GoFundMes for missing teen Jay Slater?

Missing UK teen Jay Slater and his mum Debbie smile together before he disappeared
Jay Slater’s friends and family, including his mum Debbie, flew out to the island earlier this week (Picture: Facebook)

The disappearance of Jay Slater is the latest in a series of high profile missing person’s cases to attract wild conspiracy theories – and scammers looking to profit from a family’s misery.

Jay, 19, had attended a music festival in Tenerife before vanishing on Monday having told friends he was lost in the mountains, needed a drink of water and only had 1% battery on his phone.

Friends and family, including his mum Debbie, flew out to the island earlier this week to help with the mammoth search efforts.

Follow Metro.co.uk’s live blog for latest updates on Jay Slater

She has described the hunt for her missing son as a ‘living nightmare’.

A GoFundMe crowdfunding page set up to help ‘get Jay Slater home’ has raised more than £26,500 – but only after nearly a dozen other similar pages were swiftly closed down as suspected scams.

GoFundMe suspends fundraising for Jay Slater

Early on in the search a Facebook group created by Jay’s family insisted his mum did not want any GoFundMe pages created and urged followers not to donate to any.

Several quickly pointed out that there were already ‘nine fake go fund me pages out there so far’.

The crowdfunding platform removed a number of fundraisers, saying efforts were ongoing to verify the identity of the organisers and confirm donations would go to Jay’s family.

What has GoFundMe said about the fake fundraisers?

In a statement, a spokesperson said: ‘Our hearts go out to Jay Slater, his family and everyone else concerned about his disappearance. All campaigns are under review and no money will be transferred unless we can verify it goes straight to his family.

‘At moments like this, we often see people set up campaigns to benefit strangers when they are moved to help. That is why we work with organisers to ensure any money donated goes to the right place.

Missing Teen Jay Slater smiles in a Facebook photo
The search for Jay Slater has entered its sixth day (Picture: Facebook)

‘GoFundMe has a dedicated Trust & Safety team reviewing all relevant fundraisers. In addition to the team of experts, we deploy proprietary technical tools and have multiple processes in place to verify the identity of organizers and the recipient of the fundraiser.

‘Before money is transferred, an individual or organization’s information, including their banking information, must be verified.’

Trolls target Jay’s family

The sixth day of searches began today after the administrator of an official Facebook page set up to help find Jay said somebody had logged into his Instagram account who was not him.

Rachel Louise Harg said people who had been ‘hacking’ the social media accounts of his family were ‘sick in the head’.

Shortly after landing in Tenerife, Debbie revealed she had already received vile calls from pranksters claiming to have kidnapped her son.

Debbie, mother of missing teen Jay Slater, 19, cries as she issues a plea for people to find her son
Jay’s mum Debbie issues a tearful plea for people to help find her son (Picture: ITN)

She said: ‘Some of the phone calls I’ve been getting have been horrible. I just don’t know why people would want to do things like this.’

Even the genuine fundraiser has not escaped the trolling, with social media users joking about donations from ‘Madeleine McCann’, ‘Ian Huntley’, ‘Pablo Escobar’, ‘Anne Frank’ and ‘Jay Slater’.

Conspiracy theorists and armchair detectives

Like previous high profile cases, speculation about what could have happened to Jay has been rife online.

Some have suggested the teenager may have been kidnapped. Others have said he might simply be in hiding.

Pleading for an end to the ‘cruel’ commentary, Ms Harg posted in the Facebook group: ‘Jay is five days missing and we don’t know if he’s alone or dead.

‘Honestly, if anyone thinks we are all in on it then I will remove you myself.’

Where will the GoFundMe money go?

Ms Harg said the £26,570 raised and counting will go towards family and friends staying in Tenerife while the hunt continues.

‘The GoFundMe is set up for Jay’s mum’s bank. It’s to be used to fund us staying and food,’ she said.

‘Please stop now, it’s torturing his mum.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, check our news page.

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