Tags: Sly | Karina | Scammers | Prey | Generous | Americans

Sly Karina Scammers Prey on Generous Americans

Thursday, 15 September 2005 12:00 AM

Americans from all walks of life have seen the heartbreaking devastation and endless suffering endured by the thousands of innocent victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Hurricane Katrina will likely be the worst natural disaster to wallop the United States in recorded history, and as such, generous Americans, as well as folks from around the world, have given hundreds of millions of dollars in much needed and appreciated donations.

Sadly, within days of Hurricane Katrina's landfall, cruel and callous con artists have come up with a multitude of devious swindles and scams to try to divert these big-hearted charitable donations to their own greedy pockets.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there are a few suggestions you should consider to help make sure your kind-hearted donations reach trustworthy and reliable charitable organizations.

The federal government advises that the best way to help immediately is to donate money directly to established national relief organizations. In a new Consumer Alert, "Helping Victims of Hurricane Katrina: Your Guide to Giving Wisely," the FTC offers tips to help consumers give wisely. They include:

· Donate to recognized charities to whom you have given before. Watch out for charities that have sprung up overnight. They may be well-meaning, but they lack the infrastructure to provide assistance. And be wary of charities with names that sound like familiar or nationally known organizations. Some phony charities use names that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations.

· Give directly to the charity, not the solicitors for the charity. Solicitors take a portion of the proceeds to cover their costs, which leaves less for victim assistance.

· Do not provide personal or financial information - including your Social Security number or credit card and bank account numbers - to anyone who solicits from you. Scam artists use this information to commit fraud against you.

· Check out any charities before you donate. Contact the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance at www.give.org.

· Do not give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card. Write the official name of the charity on your check. You can contribute safely online through national charities like www.redcross.org/donate.

· Ask for identification if you are approached in person. Many states require paid fundraisers to identify themselves as such and to name the charity for which they are soliciting.

For more information, go to www.ftc.gov.

In addition, The FBI's San Diego's office offers this essential warning:

Similar to the tsunami scams that surfaced last winter, there has been a rapid increase in Web sites and associated spam being deployed, purporting to be legitimate fundraising efforts for the victims of the recent hurricane and subsequent massive flooding in the Gulf Coast region. There have been more than 1000 sites advertising Hurricane Katrina relief services.

Those who desire to contribute to the Hurricane Katrina funds should carefully research the organizations soliciting funds to ensure the monies donated will be used as guaranteed.

For additional details, log on to www.fbi.gov.

A Quick Security Tip: The US Department of Justice (www.usdoj.gov) warns potential donors to be aware of e-mails that purport to solicit contributions for victims of Katrina. Some of these e-mails contain references to Web site names that sound as though they are affiliated with legitimate charitable causes, such as the American Red Cross.

Some of these e-mails may be sent by people with a sincere desire to help, and may contain accurate information. Others, however, bear strong indications that they are fraudulent and that the senders will not provide the donations to the victims, but will keep the money for themselves.

In addition, law enforcement authorities are concerned that, as with disaster scenarios of the past, criminals will operate bogus charities by telephone and will call members of the public, falsely promising to send donations to Katrina disaster recovery efforts.

Members of the public who want to donate money to help Hurricane Katrina victims should visit www.usafreedomcorps.gov for a list of legitimate charitable organizations.

To report any possible cases of Katrina-related fraud, e-mail your information immediately to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov). In addition, consumers can call the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Response Center, toll-free, at 1-877-FTC-HELP.

My Final Thoughts: Americans are the most generous people on earth, and it is vital to make sure whatever donation you see fit on giving to assist the victims of the deadly Hurricane Katrina makes it to the appropriate charitable organizations.

Take the time to do the research to check on the honesty and dependability of the numerous groups asking for your hard-earned money. That way, you can rest assured that any donations you provide will really reach the thousands of needy people and pets instead of greedy con artists.

(Note: If you manufacture or distribute any Security, Safety, Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Defense or Crime Prevention related products, please send information on your product line for possible future reference in this column to: CrimePrevention123@yahoo.com.)

(c) 2005 by Bruce Mandelblit


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Americans from all walks of life have seen the heartbreaking devastation and endless suffering endured by the thousands of innocent victims of Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Katrina will likely be the worst natural disaster to wallop the United States in recorded history,...
Thursday, 15 September 2005 12:00 AM
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