Helping Others In Need
When a natural disaster hits an or region most people want to do what they can to help those people out.
One of the most common ways to help those people is to donate to charities that use the funds to send aid.
However in times of crisis there rises a special group of scammers.
This group of scammers are special in that they target people who want to help others affected by disasters. These scammers take many forms. Some of them go door to door, some create fake online sites, some set up ‘1-800’ numbers and others create ‘green screen’ videos that show the ‘affected people’.
Worst Of The Worst
These people are the worst of the worst due to many reasons, but the biggest reason is the fact that they prey on people who just want to help others.
These people ride on the hysteria of the crisis or disaster and make a lot of money in short period of time.
These people come out of the wood work everytime a disaster hits and scam millions from people every year. This type of scam is the subject of this article. In this article I will tell you want the scam looks like, signs that it might be a scam, ways to confirm if it is legit or a scam & how to report a charity scam.
2 Types Of Charity Scams
There are 2 types of Charity Scams:
- Non-Specific Specific
Specific Charity Scams
Specific Charity Scams are scams targeting certain segments of the population. These scams ‘promise to donate’ all the ‘funds’ to the ‘organization’ and that the funds will benefits and those ‘in need’.
The funds donated always go the scammer and never the ‘charity’.
These scams blend in well with legitimate, Disaster, Veteran, Firefighter & Police charities. Sometimes the legit and the scam charities can’t be told apart from one another.
Non-Specific Scams target a wider portion of the population by asking for donations to help very well known or broad problems that don’t seem to go away such as
- Drug Addiction
- Student Loans
- ‘Save The Whales’
These scams occur year round and are not specifically made to ‘ride on the waves’ of the latest crisis or disaster. Non-Specific scams rely on the long term gains and are often around for years or decades before they are shut down by authorities.
How Charity Scams Work
A Charity Scam usually follows the following steps. These steps are not specific and may not occur in all of these scams. They are just a ‘skeleton’ foundation, but they always follow the following order.
Step 1: ‘Crisis’ or ‘Disaster’ Scam Site/Video Set Up
The first step usually happens within 1-4 hours of an ‘event breaking’ such as an earthquake or flood. The scammer sets up a scam site, complete with a few Youtube videos that are just ‘cut & pasted’ from ‘legit’ news sites. The site’s only focus is to funnel money to the scammer with no regard for any ‘real, quality’ content
Step 2: Charity Scam spread Through Social Media
When step 1 is complete they start to send out the ‘charity donation’ links to major social media outlets such as Twitter, Snapchat, & Facebook.
They often use large amounts of funds to advertise these ‘charities’ and to spread the word far, wide and fast.
Step 3: You Click On The Link
You come across the ‘story’ and ‘click’ the link. You are directed to the website and are asked to enter your information and ‘donate’ to whatever the charity of the week.
Step 4: More ‘Funds’ Taken & ‘I’ve Been Scammed.’
Once you enter your personal information the scammer always takes more ‘funds’ through ‘fees’ or ‘processing’. The amount is far more then you expect and you are left with having to call your financial institution. Once you get a hold of them you have to have them help you through the fact that you have been scammed.
Know Of More Steps
If you know about more steps involved in Charity Scams please let me know in the comments below adn I would be glad to update this article and credit you and your information.
Signs Of A Charity Scam
In 2017 separating legitimate charities from scam charities is getting harder then ever. However you can use the following signs to spot a fake charity. If any charity has any of the following signs it is best to report them to the proper authorities.
To see where & how to report a scam click HERE.
Sign 1: No Detailed Information Available On Charity.
The person, website, or link fails to provide you with detailed information on the following topics:
- Donation Disclosure
All legit charities are required to have and provide detailed information on the above topics and more. Fake sites don’t follow the law and if you can’t find or get detailed information don’t donate & report the charity to the authorities.
Sign 2: No Proof The Donation is Tax Deductible
The IRS allows a person to deduct a portion or all of charitable donation for tax purposes with the right paperwork. All legit charities will provide you with that paperwork upon request or in some cases you get regardless if you want it or not.
No proof of deduction means no donation from you the taxpayer.
Sign 3: Uses Identical Name To Well Known Charity
This is a big one and some people do not see the difference. For example some scammers have used the ‘Red Cross’ name and simply taken off one letter: ‘Red Cros’.
That is why it is important to research the charity that is asking for your donation.
Sign 4: ‘Donate Now’ Pressure Tactics
The person, site, or link wants you to ‘donate now’ and offers you all the reasons to ‘donate now’. Every other sentence or ‘clip’ is asking or telling you to donate. Real charities don’t need and NEVER will pressure you to donate.
Fake charities will always pressure you to donate because scammer love money and they want it as soon as possible.
Sign 5: ‘Cash’ Donations or ‘Wire Funds’
This is the most common sign of all. Scammers want easily convertible financial instruments. Cash and wire transfers are among the easiest to convert or use immediately upon receiving it.
Checks, Money Orders, or Credit Cards have the option to be cancelled by the person who donated and are not the main way to donate on scam sites.
Sign 6: Entered Into A Sweepstakes
Although not as common, it still makes it’s rounds. Some scammers will entice a victim by saying that when you donate you will be entered into a sweepstakes to win ‘prizes’.
The only problem here is that activity is illegal under federal and state law in the United States.
You never have to give a donation to be eligible to win a sweepstakes.
Sign 7: Offers To Send A Courier To Get The Donation
This is not only illegal, it is down right disturbing when you think about it. No real legit charity will offer to ‘send someone over’ to get the donation. Only thugs, criminals and ‘gangsters’ would offer that. If this is part of the deal with your charity have the authorities investigate it.
One Last Thing
If you have been targeted by this type of scam feel free to tell your story in the comments below. You can help others avoid it in the the future & I can direct you to resources to help you.
Along with using the above 7 signs, you can also use the following Charity Checklist to see if the charity you wish to donate to is legit or a scam. If at anytime you suspect a charity to be fake report it to the proper authorities.
1: Ask For Detailed Information
Ask for detailed information including the charity’s full name, address, phone number, website, & tax deduction paperwork for donation. Legit charities will have all this information available and would be glad to provide it to you.
2: Call The Charity
Call the number of the charity and ask them if they are aware of the solicitation and if the website or person has permission to do the solicitation. It is important to trust BUT VERIFY any information a ‘charity’ gives you. Make sure everything lines up.
3: Find Out If Charity Has To Be Registered
Some charities are required by state and federal statute to be registered. The requirements differ from state to state, jurisdiction to jurisdiction, however you can look up the charity in question any time. You can look it up at the National Association Of State Charity Officials.
4: Check Charity Using Trustworthy Sources
You can at anytime check out rather a certain charity is legit or not by visiting the following sites and entering in the charity’s information.
5: Ask If Donation Is Paid Fundraiser
If you get a call from a charity ask if the donation is part of a paid fundraiser. If the charity says it is part of a paid fundraiser you have the right to know the following.
- The name of the charity they represent.
- The % of your donation that will go to that ‘charity’.
- The % of your donation that will go ‘to the cause’.
- The % of your donation that will go to ‘the fundraiser’.
6: Visit The IRS Website For Tax Information
Visit the IRS website and put in the information that the charity gives you. You can find out easily rather or not the charity is legit or is a rotten scam.
7: Charity Just ‘Popped Up’
If the charity asking you donate just ‘popped up’ recently or right after a crisis or disaster be especially suspicious. Established charities are known and trusted, however during the confusion and crisis scammers like to just ‘pop up’ adn ask for money. If the charity just came around recently it is best to not donate.
8: Is Charity Helping The Locals
Some scammers will use local events or fundraisers to funnel money away from the locals and use it to enrich themselves.
If any charity claims to represent a local agency or group contact that local group and inquire about the charity.
It is your money, donate responsibly.
Report Charity Fraud
If you believe that you have scammed by a fake charity, or need to report a scam in general click on the link down below and begin the process of having your voice heard.
To find out where to report your scam or scams in general click HERE.
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Leave A Comment Below
If you have any questions or any experiences with Charity Scams leave your story or comment below. I would be happy to hear from you and direct you to any resources that may help you. Have a good day.
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