MAYFIELD, Ky. (WISH) — In the wake of the tornados that ripped through western Kentucky, scammers got to work right away trying to take money aimed at rebuilding efforts. I-Team 8 noticed a series of online fundraisers that appeared before the dust settled.
Scammers have created what are called “one-off” sites. These are websites that serve one purpose and are then taken down as quickly as they appear. The Better Business Bureau says if a website doesn’t have full contact information, such as an address, phone number and email address, caution should be exercised.
Heather Clary is with the BBB in Lexington, Kentucky, and says an event like the tornadoes brings out the best and the worst in people.
“The thing about social media is if you see a link on there you can go to it, but you want to make sure whatever site it is taking you too is the real deal, if you don’t see any contact information or address no go phone number then you might want to stay away from it,” said Clary
“We have been getting some scams being reported, certainly, related to the tragic events that occurred over the weekend,” Jennifer Adamany with the BBB in Indianapolis said. “This tends to happen anytime a tragic event occurs, where scammers are trying to prey on people’s generous hearts.”
Another site that is seeing a lot of tornado relief traffic is GoFundMe. So far, 300 fundraisers have raised $1.5 million from $15,000 donors. The company sent I-Team 8 a statement explaining how they guarantee the money collected on their site is going to the right people by holding the payments until the fundraiser beneficiary is identified.
“…the misuse of our platform very seriously, in the very rare case when something isn’t right with a fundraiser, donors may be eligible for a 100% refund of their donation”
Anyone who suspects something isn’t right with a charitable site, is asked to report it to the attorney general’s office.
Attorney General Todd Rokita provided the following statement to I-Team 8:
Unfortunately, scammers are often opportunists and look for things like natural disasters to take advantage of individuals who are simply trying to help. For those looking to help, they should;
– Seek out established, well known not-for-profits that have a proven track record in the area of the natural disaster.
– Those organizations will likely have an established network and systems in place to get the funds where needed as quickly as possible.
– Individuals should be on the lookout for unsolicited texts or calls asking for money or supplies to help victims. If a consumer suspects that someone is trying to scam them, they should file a consumer complaint with our office.