Beware Charity Scams Following Disaster
Photo: Video by kmir6.com
It's become an unfortunate by-product of a disaster these days: the charity scams.
They pose as charities, and rip off those wanting to help.
A healthy dose of skepticism and a little research can keep you from falling prey.
Since Hurricane Katrina, fraudsters have really refined their methods of ripping off well-intentioned people.
We learned how you can protect yourself.
The stories from Oklahoma are heartbreaking, and many people want to help.
"Want to help so desperately that we just donate to anyone and everyone," said Kathy Ashkins with the American Red Cross chapter in Palm Desert.
But sadly, following a disaster some charity scams prey on generous people.
"Sometimes they're trying to of course raise money for themselves, and they will call you on the phone, so beware of telemarketers asking for money to support the relief efforts in Oklahoma," said Ashkins.
Here is some advice from the FBI:
--Don't respond to any incoming e-mails.
--Beware of organizations with copycat names.
--Make contributions directly to known organizations.
--Charities normally don't ask for money transfer services
--Most charity websites end in .org, rather than .com.
"They can give you a little more information on the valid charities like the American Red Cross," said Ashkins.
Fraud was so prevalent following Katrina that the National Center for Disaster Fraud was created.
You can also report something suspicious to the FBI.
Meanwhile, valid charities are trying to help the devastated community of Moore by giving shelter and food.
So if you do want to help Ashkins says use, "Definitely a reliable source that you have been contributing to for a number of years such as the Red Cross, and others the Salvation Army and other non-profits that you are familiar with."