Darren Keys: Scammers try to cash in on NI road racer’s death as genuine funding page smashes target

Darren Keys in action this year
Darren Keys in action this year

As relatives of Ballyclare father-of-three Darren Keys set up a genuine appeal to raise money to support his family, heartless scammers tried to cash in on the racer’s death.

A fake appeal using a Donor Box web page entitled ‘Darren Keys Funeral Fund’ is known to have received some online donations before it was shut down and a police investigation begun.

Meanwhile, the genuine crowd funding site set up by relatives of Mr Keys through GoFundMe has helped to raise more than 10 times its intended target in less than 24 hours to support the family of Mr Keys who died while road racing on Sunday.

Both pages were set up following Mr Keys’ tragic death in a high-speed accident at the Walderstown Road Races in Co Westmeath.

Glenn Irwin, a road racer from Ballyclare, said he was aware of the fake site: “I nearly donated to it myself but I thought there was something suspicious about it.

“A few hours later I saw a lot of people were sharing on Facebook not to donate to the Donor Box site.”

He added: “Nowadays people will do anything for a few quid.

“It’s not your usual scam, whoever set it up has to be aware of what’s happening in the news.

“I can’t see this being anyone within the racing community. They’re scumbags whoever they are.”

Police said they are investigating after it was reported that a fraudulent fundraising page was set up in the wake of Mr Keys’ tragic death.

Sergeant Whiteside said: “Police received a report of a fraudulent donation page online on July 15 at 1.30pm. Our inquires are ongoing at this time.”

It is understood the page had been created on DonorBox.org.

The genuine GoFundMe page was set up to support Mr Keys’ wife Justine and his children following his tragic death.

A target of £500 was set, though in less than 24 hours £5,000 had been pledged.

On the GoFundMe page, set up in the name of Victoria Gibson, it reads: “Darren was a wonderful son, a kind and caring husband, a doting daddy with the spirit of a racer in his blood.

“Darren touched everyone’s lives in ways that were one of a kind. He is so sorely missed and his presence was so unique that it will be felt by many for eternity.

“Darren passed away doing what he loved most in the world ... racing.

“His bold determination to always give of his best and win was a type of adrenaline like no other.

“He excelled in competition and had just started to make a name for himself on the racing circuit before his career was ended so untimely and before he had had a chance to peak.”

The page said that Darren was a person “filled with banter” and “the epitome of a gentleman”.

His strong bonds to his mother and father Hilda and Clinton and his big brother Richard were spoken of as were the strong relationships with his in-laws.

The GoFundMe page stated that Mr Keys’ greatest achievements were his children – Charlie, 13, Molly, eight, and Harry, five: “He absolutely adored them and made them his top priority.

“Watching Charlie play football, going to watch Molly at her Irish dancing competitions and playing motorbikes with his baby boy.

“Darren was their idol, their protector and their most cherished daddy.”

Mr Keys had been married to Justine for the past seven years, and they had been together for nine years.

The crowdfunding page said: “He adored her with all of his heart, she was his Queen. They shared so many happy memories together, holidays to Jamaica, Canada and Spain.

“Together they loved to just be present in each other’s company, content to share a drink and watch a movie together at home, rather than a big night out.

“Justine was Darren’s soulmate and him her’s.

“They created a beautiful family together and Darren’s legacy will continue to live on in the hearts and through the actions of his wife and children.

“To lose our family member is hard at any age, but to lose him at 34 years young, is simply devastating.

“We are completely heartbroken and his laugh, smile and meaningfulness to us all is irreplaceable.

“If you felt so inclined, we welcome donations in his memory to help support Justine and the children.”

The funeral of Mr Keys will take place on Friday at noon in Ballylinney Presbyterian Church.

The service will be followed by interment at Ballyclare Cemetery.

The family has asked that no black ties are worn, instead that casual clothes are preferred at the service.

They have said that donations in lieu of flowers would be gratefully accepted to Air Ambulance NI care of Fleming & Cuthbert Funeral Directors in Mill Road, Ballyclare.