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GoFundMe returning over $20 million to donors after vet cancels border wall fundraiser

That's a lot of money

HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP/Getty Images

GoFundMe will be returning more than $20 million in donations after veteran Brian Kolfage's crowdfunding page for the border wall did not reach its $1 billion goal.

All donors can expect to receive the funds by April 11.

What are the details?

Bobby Whithorne, director of North America Communications for GoFundMe, issued a statement about the refunds on Friday.

In an emailed statement to CBS News, Whithorne said that the popular crowdfunding platform will refund all money received for the border wall construction fundraiser because it did not reach its $1 billion goal.

Initially, Kolfage said that all money would be returned if the goal was not met.

"[T]hat did not happen," Whithorne said. "This means all donors will receive a refund."

Now, Kolfage plans to launch a nonprofit organization to receive donations instead.

In an update on his original GoFundMe page, Kolfage wrote, "Our highly experienced team is highly confident that we can complete significant segments of the wall in less time, and for far less money than the federal government, while meeting or exceeding all required regulatory, engineering, and environmental specifications."

A report in HuffPost noted that it was unable to verify the charity's status.

At the time of this writing, the GoFundMe page is still active, and another spokesperson for the site said that "it's up to the campaign organizer to turn donations off."

What about Kolfage?

Oh yes. Kolfage — who is a triple-amputee and Purple Heart recipient — stands accused of pocketing money that was meant for wounded veterans.

According to a BuzzFeed News investigation, Kolfage previously led other crowdfunding pages that were set to benefit wounded veterans. The pages reportedly raised thousands of dollars for a mentoring program at various military hospitals.

Several representatives from those military hospitals, however, told the outlet that they never received any such money.

Whithorne, of GoFundMe, told the outlet that Kolfage, indeed, launched a GoFundMe page in 2015 that raised more than $16,000 for the "veteran mentorship program." He added that the money — like the money for the aforementioned wall funding project — went directly to Kolfage.

In since-deleted Facebook posts, Kolfage reportedly said that he'd been working with hospitals like Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Brooke Army Medical Center, and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

"We do not have a record of Mr. Kolfage visiting Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in any official capacity after 2012," a spokesperson for the hospital told the outlet. "We have no record of a donation made in his name to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center."

Anything else?

Kolfage is also accused of running websites that promoted far-right conspiracies and racist sentiments.

One of Kolfage's former employees told the outlet that her former boss can be vicious.

"After I started challenging some of his business decisions that I felt were reckless for the company, and for my career, the real Brian emerged," the employee said. "Everything is only about his 'war hero' persona and money. If there's a perceived slight on his part, he viciously attacks people ... and, in my case, tries to destroy their life and livelihood."

The outlet reportedly obtained emails and text messages between Kolfage and his former employees that indicated the vet encouraged his content producers to create questionable content by telling his writers to "get creative."

"So get creative like using fake photoshopped images?" the employee wrote in a message to Kolfage.

Kolfage reportedly answered in the affirmative. When further questioned by the employee as to how such behaviors would impact a legitimate news organization, Kolfage reportedly responded, "That's not for u to worry about."

Another employee added, "He never wanted the truth. It was all just for clicks, and the more inflammatory, the better. I felt dirty writing the stuff."

One last thing…
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