Friday, November 2, 2012

DISASTER FRAUD





Boardwalk Roller Coaster Out to Sea
The Department of Justice (DOJ), the FBI, and the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) want the public to be aware that during major disasters like Hurricane Sandy, the potential for disaster fraud peeks to it's highest levels. 

What is disaster fraud?  Disaster fraud is any fraudulent activity associated with relief efforts for such natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy for example.

Any suspected fraudulent activity pertaining to the relief efforts of Hurricane Sandy should be reported to the toll-free NCDF hotline at 866-720-5721.  You can reach the hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the specific purpose of reporting scams in the aftermath of Sandy or any other natural disaster. 

So many of us want to help our fellow Americans on the east coast that are suffering so badly after the tragedy of Sandy and for most of us, that means donating money to organizations like the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and others.  Unfortunately, tragedies like this also bring out the scam artists looking to make easy money from unsuspecting good citizens like yourself.

The DOJ and the FBI want to remind us all to stay alert and make sure that we scrutinize anyone soliciting donations on behalf of hurricane victims.  Solicitations can come in the form of emails, websites, door-to-door collections, mailings, telephone calls, etc.  For those families that have elderly parents, be sure to speak with them about disaster fraud, particularly during these times and remember, the elderly are the most susceptible members of our society when it comes to fraud.

Before making any kind of donation, be sure to adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming emails, including clicking links contained within those messages because they may contain a computer virus.
  • Be cautious of individuals representing themselves as victims or officials asking for donations via email or social networking sites.
  • Beware of organizations with copycat names similar to but not exactly the same as those of reputable charities.
  • Rather than following a purported link to a website, verify the existence and legitimacy of non-profit organizations by using Internet-based resources.
  • Be cautious of emails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files; these files may contain viruses.  Only open attachments from known senders.
  • To ensure that contributions are received and used for the purpose intended, make donations directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make those donations for you on your behalf.
  • Do not be pressured into making contributions, reputable charities do not use coercive tactics.
  • Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions.  Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identify theft.
  • Avoid cash donations if possible.  Use Paypal or a credit card to make donations.  If you write a check, make sure it is directly to the charity and not to individuals.
  • Legitimate charities do not normally solicit donations via money transfer services.
  • Most legitimate charities maintain websites ending in .org rather than .com.

In addition to raising public awareness, the NCDF wants you to know that they are the intake center for all disaster relief fraud.  Therefore, if you do observe that someone has submitted a fraudulent claim for disaster relief, or observe any other suspected fraudulent activities pertaining to the receipt of government funds as part of disaster relief clean-up, please contact the NCDF.

Crosshair Fire Investigations would like to make a plea to everyone who can donate, please do so ASAP.  Americans are in true need, probably more than ever before post Sandy.  In addition, everyone who can give blood should also do so immediately.  Disasters like this can quickly drain Red Cross blood supplies.  If possible, host a blood drive.  See the Red Cross website for more information.

 
"REMEMBER,  AMERICANS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN ABLE TO DO WHAT THE GOVERNMENT CAN'T DO."

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