Eye on Scams: Avoid charitable giving schemes after a natural disaster

Louisiana News

LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)- After a natural disaster or public tragedy, such as the recent hurricanes Laura and Delta, many people feel called to give. Sadly, scammers often take advantage of these moments to deceive donors.

People want to help in any way possible when it comes to the aftermath of Hurricanes Laura and Delta. That often means contributing to fundraisers to help the survivors and the families of the victims, but scammers can take advantage of that.

“Acadiana is such a hospitable area, people want to help each other out,” Chris Babin, with the Better Business Bureau of Acadiana, said. “Of course, scammers and unethical people take advantage of that as well, and it’s not hard to create a Facebook post or even a crowdfunding site or a GoFundMe account to where you can take pictures of people’s damaged goods or homes online that aren’t really yours, and then tell everybody that you need help fixing your house, and then, in the end, people are donating money to you, and you’re just making away with the funds, and not actually fixing anything and repairing it.”

Experts warn that some crowdfunding sites do very little vetting of individuals who decide to post for assistance after a tragedy or natural disaster. As a result, it can be difficult for donors to verify the trustworthiness of crowdfunding requests for support.

“That’s the reason why it’s so easy for scammers to take advantage of it because there is no vetting process,” explained Babin. “You can create it and start a fundraiser for anything you want to fundraise for and right now, it’s easy for people to prey on people’s vulnerabilities, and say, ‘look, I really need some help would you donate to me’ and just take away and steal their funds.”

In addition, there are often campaigns set up by well-meaning individuals who may not be able to deliver on promised relief activities.
“We would of course recommend that you donate funds or goods whichever one works best for you just make sure you’re donating to a reputable organization and a reputable source that you know is going to do something with those that is actually meaningful to those that are in need,” added Babin.
Here are some tips from the Better Business Bureau on charitable giving:

  • Thoughtful giving— Visit https://give.org/ to verify if a charity meets the Better Business Bureau standards for charitable accountability.
  • Crowdfunding: Keep in mind that some crowdfunding sites do very little vetting of individuals who decide to post for assistance after a tragedy or a disaster.
  • How will donations be used? For example, ask how will the donations help victims’ families?
  • Use online caution.
  • Check for government registration… about 40 of the 50 states in the U.S. require charities to register with a state government agency.

If you have a scam you’d like me to investigate, feel free to send me an email at smasters@klfy.com.

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