WARNING: Haiti Quake is Attracting Scam Artists
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The disaster in Haiti is attracting scam artists. E-mails direction potential donors to phony web-sites are already popping up online.
Established charities are the safest bet for donations. You can give to The Red Cross, Salvation Army and other organizations by going online to their websites, and using a credit card. Or you can text message their donation lines. But be sure you are initiating the contact. Cyber Crimes Detective Dustin Dodd of the Clovis Police Department warns don't drawn to a website by an e-mail or phone call.
"The easiest way is, if you're receiving something, it's likely a scam. Reputable charitable organizations, Red Cross, Salvation Army, they are not sending out e-mails soliciting for donations," said Dodd.
Dodd said phony e-mails and websites seeking donations popped up after Hurricane Katrina. He said the earthquake in Haiti is likely to generate many more.
Most of these cyber scams originate overseas, like phony solicitations from the British Red Cross and the Haiti Disaster Response Agency that have already appeared. More than 64 web site names implying Haitian Earthquake relief have appeared in the past 24 hours. There's even been at least one local effort to collect money.
Someone claiming to represent the Visalia Police Department has been soliciting donations for earthquake relief over the phone. Visalia Police Sgt. Steve Williams said one caller who didn't fall for it called police.
"He was very smart he knew a little bit he asked for like badge numbers, names things like that and then he called us and warned us so luckily he was not taken advantage of and we hope no one else was." Williams said.
Obviously, local police departments are not going to be soliciting donations for earthquake relief and again, neither are legitimate charities.
Detective Dodd said, "If you're receiving something from e-mail, I'd delete it because it is likely a scam."
earthquake, haiti, local, gene haagenson
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