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. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, July 29 2014 12:39 PM EDT2014-07-29 16:39:51 GMT
European Union ambassadors are meeting to discuss a dramatic toughening of the trade bloc's sanctions against Russia.More >>
Frustrated by the apparent ineffectiveness of previous sanctions and outraged by the deaths of 298 people aboard the Malaysia Airlines plane downed over eastern Ukraine, the European Union adopted tough new economic...More >>
Tuesday, July 29 2014 11:57 AM EDT2014-07-29 15:57:31 GMT
Rep. Jeff Miller's background as a real estate broker will come in handy as the Florida Republican tries to a sell a $17 billion veterans health care bill to a GOP caucus that includes tea party members dead...More >>
House and Senate negotiators have approved a $17 billion compromise bill to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs and reform a program scandalized by veterans' long waits for health care and VA workers falsifying...More >>
Tuesday, July 29 2014 11:21 AM EDT2014-07-29 15:21:44 GMT
The NCAA has agreed to settle a class-action head injury lawsuit by creating a $70 million fund to diagnose thousands of current and former college athletes to determine if they suffered brain trauma playing...More >>
The NCAA agreed Tuesday to settle a class-action head-injury lawsuit by creating a $70 million fund to diagnose thousands of current and former college athletes to determine if they suffered brain trauma playing football,...More >>
Tuesday, July 29 2014 11:14 AM EDT2014-07-29 15:14:56 GMT
Israeli aircraft, tanks and navy gunboats pounded symbols of Hamas control in Gaza City in the heaviest night of bombardment in three weeks of Israel-Hamas fighting.More >>
Israel escalated its military campaign against Hamas on Tuesday, striking symbols of the militant group's control in Gaza and firing tank shells that Palestinian officials said shut down the strip's only power...More >>
Tuesday, July 29 2014 10:27 AM EDT2014-07-29 14:27:25 GMT
The West African airline that transported a passenger sick with Ebola last week says it's now suspending flights to the two cities hardest hit by the disease.More >>
Police officers deployed to Liberia's international airport to ensure passengers are screened for Ebola symptoms as a major regional airline announced Tuesday it was suspending flights to the cities hardest hit by an...More >>
Updated look and more features, including weather videos and Report the Weather More >>
StormCenter 2 On the Go is updated with MORE features, including weather videos, meteorologists' tweets, and Report the Weather, plus your hour-by-hour forecast, Pinpoint Digital Doppler, and weather alerts for up to 4 locations! More >>