Police Say Georgia Man Made Fake GoFundMe Page for Teen Athlete Who Died

A Georgia man was arrested for allegedly making a fake GoFundMe page for a teen athlete who died.

Dylan Thomas, 16, was severely injured in a game on Sept. 28 and died two days later.

Justus Hughley, 22, is accused of creating a fraudulent account on the popular fundraising website GoFundMe and trying to get donors to donate money, which he would then withdraw and use for himself.

Hughley was charged with computer theft, the Pike County Sheriff’s Office said, and booked into the county jail ahead of a bond hearing.

“The investigation was lengthy as several subpoenas had to be served throughout the country to gather the needed information to identify the perpetrator,” the office said.

“A bank account in Iowa was used by the suspect to attempt to transfer the money from GoFundMe to his personal account. Fortunately, the transaction was reported as fraudulent and no money was received by Hughley. Computer IP addresses and banking information provided by the suspect to GoFundMe and a bank were used to locate the suspect in Upson County,” the sheriff’s office said.

GoFundMe said that fraudulent accounts are rare and when they do happen, the service refunds donors. It also noted that only one donation was sent to Hughley’s campaign.

“Campaigns with misuse are very rare, making up less than one-tenth of 1 percent of all GoFundMe campaigns,” a spokesman told WMAZ.

“In this case, the campaign received one donation, and the donor has been fully refunded. GoFundMe has banned the campaign organizer and we are cooperating with law enforcement.”

Teen’s Death

Dylan, a linebacker for Pike County High School, died from cardiac arrest due to a head injury, a county coroner said in early October.

“Medical staff at Grady described to Dylan’s parents the nature of the injury as an anomaly, requiring the perfect amount of pressure on the perfect spot at the perfect angle. It is my opinion no additional preventative measures nor subsequent treatments could have prevented Dylan’s death,” coroner Terrell Moody told WSB-TV.

An investigation by the Georgia High School Association said that Dylan reported an issue with his leg when he made a play at 9:20 p.m.

He was assisted off the field and within seven minutes, his condition began to rapidly deteriorate. About 10 minutes later he was being rushed to the hospital. After several days of surgeries and medical tests, he died.

“Dylan Thomas was a healthy 16-year-old boy in great physical shape. There were no pre-existing medical conditions found in his routine physicals nor during his extensive medical treatment at Grady that would indicate Dylan would be more or less susceptible to this injury than any other ballplayer,” Moody wrote in his report.

Coach Brad Webber told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in November that his team is trying to keep Dylan in mind.

“The first game back, we laid the jersey at his spot at linebacker and played an untimed down. Now we take it everywhere we go. The captains bring it out on the field for the coin toss,” he said.

“When you go to be a high school football coach, there’s no class you take to get you through this stuff. This is uncharted territory for me and my staff. We’re just going day by day. We try to support his family more than anything. Words can’t express what they’re going through, so we try to be there for them,” Webber said.