Haiti Relief Scams

Despite an economic downturn, Americans gave over $300 billion in 2008. According to the Giving USA Foundation™, charitable giving was still more than 2 percent of 2008’s GDP. We’re a nation of givers. We see a need, and we want to help. In fact, Americans gave, per capita, three and a half times as much to causes and charities as the next most generous European nation, France. Sometimes our desire to help is taken advantage of by unscrupulous predators.

Just one day after the January 12, 2020 earthquakes that struck the island republic of Haiti, the FBI issued a warning to the public to beware of scammers. In the wake of the disaster, which reportedly killed and injured numbers in the hundreds of thousands, fraudsters set to work to con people into giving to fake charities.

On its web site (fbi.gov), the FBI reports that the fraudulent activity is being conducted by telephone, door-to-door, on the street and on the Internet. Even social networking sites such as Twitter and facebook are being used as tools to steal money from well-meaning donors.

What can you do to safely help Haitian earthquake victims or those of other disasters? Don’t ever agree on the spot to anything a stranger is asking you to do. Make sure you check out any charities you’re being asked to consider for a donation. You worked hard for your money, so don’t give it away to scammers. You can research charities online by using sites such as Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org). No legitimate representative of a charitable organization will take issue with your wanting to take some time to learn more about his or her cause. Don’t be afraid to simply say no.

Bob Temme, Community Services Coordinator for the Southern Pines, NC Police Department, says that North Carolina residents should report suspected scams to the office of the North Carolina Attorney General. You can call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or (919) 716-6000 or visit http://www.ncdoj.gov/ for help. Your local law enforcement agencies are also there to assist you if you’re not sure what action you can take.

If you believe you have been a victim of fraud from a person or an organization soliciting relief funds on behalf of Haitian earthquake victims, the FBI requests that you contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud at (866) 720-5721. You can also fax information to (225) 334-4707 or e-mail it to disaster@leo.gov.

You can also report suspicious e-mail solicitations or fraudulent websites to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at http://www.ic3.gov.

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