GoFundMe for funeral comes up short, and family wants answers

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — GoFundMe is supposed to be an easy way to raise money to help others in need, but one local family's donations for a funeral turned up short.

When 50-year-old Lolita Vales died Aug. 5 of a heart attack, her 14-year-old daughter Mei-Joi set up a GoFundMe account — since as a minor and her mom's sole beneficiary, she could not get access to insurance money to pay for the $4,700 funeral cost.

"I thought it would be a good route to try and raise money so people out of town can give money and help out," Mei Joi said.

More than $1,200 was raised in the GoFundMe account in 17 days.

Mei-Joi turned to a friend of her deceased mom to collect the money and pay the funeral home.

"She was supposed to help collect the money and find people to donate money and get all the funds together so we can pay for it," Mei-Joi said.

That's where she said things turned bad.

"The funeral home said she only gave them $700 of the $1200 that we had raised," Mei-Joi said.

Mei-Joi said there were also missing cash donations from friends and family that were supposed to cover things like food.

"I personally gave her $410 that people had given me," Mei-Joi said. "One of my mother's friends had given her $300 and another of my mother's friend gave $300. The money we gave her wasn't included in the bill. It was just gone."

We contacted the woman Mei-Joi accuses of taking the cash.

She told us the allegations are false.

She says she paid the funeral home and had to take out $300 to pay her church, where the funeral was held.

She also says some of Vales' family members picked up money from her.

Lolita Vales' family wants answers.

And a 14-year-old who just had to bury her mother is left wondering why this happened?

"I didn't think I would have to deal with it. It just all came as a surprise to me," Mei Joi said.

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