Beware of Fraudulent Charitable Relief Donations

In light the recent destructive and tragic events associated with Hurricane Irene, Chief Plack and The Crescent City Police Department want to remind the public to beware of fraudulent e-mails and websites purporting to be conducting charitable relief efforts.

In the wake of all the recent natural disasters, including the tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes, that have devastated lives and property and have certainly caused emotional distress and great monetary loss to numerous victims, our community and individuals across the nation often feel a desire to help these victims, frequently through monetary donations.

Unfortunately, these disasters prompt individuals with criminal intent to solicit contributions purportedly for a charitable organization or a good cause. Therefore, the public is urged that to adhere to certain guidelines, to include the following, before making a donation of any kind:

  • Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mail.
  • Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting via e-mail for donations.
  • Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
  • Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
  • To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
  • Validate the legitimacy of the organization by directly accessing the recognized charity or aid organization’s website rather than following an alleged link to the site.
  • Attempt to verify the legitimacy of the non-profit status of the organization by using various Internet-based resources, which also may assist in confirming the actual existence of the organization.
  • Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.

If you believe you have been a victim of a charity related scheme, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud by telephone at (866) 720-5721, or by fax at (225) 334-4707, or by e-mail at disaster@leo.gov. or the Crescent City Police Department at (707) 464-2133.

-from press release

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