Donations to the New Jersey waitress who claimed she received an anti-gay note instead of a tip at the restaurant where she worked are being refunded after her story was questioned, NBC 4 New York has learned.
Dayna Morales, a server at Gallop Asian Bistro in Bridgewater, posted a photo on Facebook last month showing the bill with a line through the tip area. The photo of the receipt showed someone had written, "I'm sorry but I cannot tip because I do not agree with your lifestyle."
But days later, a New Jersey couple came forward to NBC 4 New York, claiming the receipt was theirs and that they had left a tip and did not write a note, suggesting it was used for a hoax. The handwriting, they said, was not theirs, and they also supplied what they said was a credit card statement showing they were charged for the total plus the $18 tip.
After Morales' initial Facebook post, her story got national attention and she began receiving money from all over the world. She said at the time that she planned to donate some of it to the Wounded Warriors Project.
This week, three people who sent money to a PayPal account set up in her name say their electronic donations were refunded.
Brittney Stilgenbauer of Tuscon, Ariz. was one of hundreds of supporters across the country who immediately rallied around Morales after reading her story on Facebook. She told NBC 4 New York over Skype Friday, "I felt awful for her, and I thought it would be great if people could come together and donate a dollar each and make up for her tip that she lost."
Stilgenbauer said she and others on Facebook encouraged Morales to set up a PayPal account to accept donations.
On the same day, Nov. 13, a PayPal account in Morales' name was set up and publicized on Facebook, and Stilgenbauer donated $1 to the account, according to time stamps on the Facebook photo and the receipt emailed to Stilgenbauer after she made the donation.
Over three weeks later, on Friday, Stilgenbauer received another email from PayPal informing her that her $1 donation to Morales' account was refunded.
Two other people told NBC 4 New York in phone interviews they also saw their electronic donations refunded. However, one man who mailed cash to Morales at the restaurant said he has not gotten the money back.
Morales did not respond to requests for comment Friday but in her last interview with NBC 4 New York, maintained she had been telling the truth: "All I know is what I've been saying."
Gallop Asian Bistro, meanwhile, suspended Morales from her job last week and says its internal investigation is still ongoing.
Stilgenbauer said she would like Morales to "return all the funds."
"Hopefully her heart was in the right place and she's sorry," she said.