As repulsive as it might seem, crooks are waiting for tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombings to happen to make their move.
“We have no reason to think that anything has happened in this case, but because it’s happened in past cases, we want to warn people before the event,” said Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne. “Past experience has shown that scammers are not above cruelly taking advantage of a tragedy to rip off consumers.”
A memo released by the Department of Homeland Security, said:
“Individuals wasted no time registering domain names related to yesterday’s explosions at the Boston Marathon. Some of the domains are likely to take advantage of those interested in learning more details about the explosions. Others will likely target individuals looking to contribute to fundraising efforts. It is unclear what each registrants intent may be, but historically, scammers, spammers and other malicious actors capitalize on major news events by registering such domains.”
Malicious individuals might also take advantage of good-hearted people by creating fake social media accounts.
According to DHS:
“Twitter account @_BostonMarathon was created shortly after the explosions took place. The account stated it would donate $1.00 for each retweet, and was crafted to closely resemble the legitimate Boston Marathon Twitter account (@BostonMarathon). This account has since been suspended by Twitter; however, the likelihood that similar social media accounts will surface remains high.”
Horne’s office offered these tips for giving to charitable donations:
• Be skeptical of anyone asking for a donation by requesting your credit card number or bank account information over the phone unless you already donate to that charity.
• Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations.
• Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf to ensure contributions are received and used for the intended purpose.
• Don’t be shy about asking what percentage of your donation will go directly to the charity versus administrative costs.
• Call the Secretary of State’s Office at (602) 542-4285 or visit their website to make sure the charity is registered with the Secretary of State. A charity that operates without such registration is violating the law and should be seen as a red flag for consumers. Be aware, however, that registration with the Secretary of State does not guarantee that all of the charity’s activities are legitimate.
• Do not pay bills or invoices you have received from charities unless you know you have already made a commitment to support them.
• Remember to ask for a receipt and a statement that the contribution is tax deductible.