How to Avoid Losing Money to Fake Charity Scams - WBAY

Target 2 Consumer Alert

How to Avoid Losing Money to Fake Charity Scams


In the wake of Hurricane Sandy and the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, relief organizations are collecting money to help people.

However, whenever there is a time of giving -- there is a time of scheming.

One such charitable fraud scheme involved 450,000 victims across the U.S. for $10 million.

"These people were greedy, but on top of being greedy, quite frankly, they were stupid, too," said Rich White, Former Eau Claire District Attorney.

The scammers would call up potential victims and try to solicit money by making false claims.  One example: the con artists would tell potential victims that police officers have to buy their own bullet proof vests, and if they can't afford them, the officers are out of luck. 

"And convince them that the little they had, the little they had to give, was going to do something good and unfortunately the opposite was true," said White.

Postal inspectors say just pennies on the dollar actually went to any charity.  The rest of the money went in the pockets of the telemarketers.

"The owners of the company were living large. They had large homes, recreational vehicles, boats, water skis, and jet skis--things like that," said Dean Kowalefski, U.S. Postal Inspector.

Some advice: do not donate money over the phone unless you are sure you know the charity.  

Instead, ask them to send you something in the mail.

"In this case and in many of the cases the unreputable telemarketers, if you ask for something in writing, you're not going to get anything," said Kowalefski

"They can't tolerate that practice," said White.  "For them to be successful, they need to get the pressure sales they sell someone right then--or they are on to the next one."

Investigators say you should never donate cash.

If you are writing a check, be sure to write it out for the name of the organization -- never an individual.

We want to know about any problems that might put you, your family or neighbors at risk.
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