|Provided by C. Adam Clegg (September 1, 2011)
In light of Hurricane Irene, the public
is reminded to beware of fraudulent emails and websites purporting to
conduct charitable relief efforts. To learn more about avoiding online
fraud, please see “Tips on Avoiding Fraudulent Charitable Contribution
Recently several natural disasters,
including tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes, have devastated lives
and property. In the wake of these events that have caused emotional
distress and great monetary loss to numerous victims, individuals
across the nation often feel a desire to help these victims,
frequently through monetary donations.
These disasters prompt individuals with
criminal intent to solicit contributions purportedly for a charitable
organization or a good cause. Therefore, before making a donation of
any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines, to include
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
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.
To obtain more information on
charitable contribution schemes and other types of online schemes,
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, by fax at (225) 334-4707, or by
e-mail at email@example.com
You can also report suspicious e-mail
solicitations or fraudulent websites to the Internet Crime Complaint
1. National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) was originally
established by the Department of Justice to investigate, prosecute,
and deter fraud in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Its mission has
expanded to include suspected fraud from any natural or man-made
disaster. More than 20 federal agencies, including the FBI,
participate in the NCDF, allowing it to act as a centralized
clearinghouse of information related to relief fraud.
Adam Clegg is Computer Systems Administrator &
Coordinator at the Vienna (WV) Police Department