CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS) — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey urged the West Virginians to be careful when it comes to Maui-related donation scams.
As of Wednesday morning, the death toll was at least 106, and more than 1,000 remain missing. This gives scammers the opportunity to prey on vulnerable victims affected by this tragedy.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by this catastrophic event. Many are expected to respond with generosity and kindness but unfortunately, there will be those who would take advantage of people’s willingness to give. I encourage those who wish to give to the relief effort to do so, but give wisely so that your generosity helps those in need,” Attorney General Morrisey said.
According to the FBI, charity/disaster fraud schemes seek donations that do little or no work at all, but instead goes directly to a scammer. Real charities should always be confirmed and be registered with the proper state government agency.
Other tips to keep in mind when giving to disaster relief organizations:
- Only give to established charities or groups whose work you know and trust.
- Never feel pressured to donate immediately.
- Be suspicious of charities that ask for donations in cash, gift cards or via wire transfer.
- Consider paying by credit card.
- Ask how much of an individual donation directly supports the relief effort.
- Never rely on a group’s sympathetic sounding name or its similarity to a well-known, reputable entity.
- Be wary of unsolicited calls that thank you for donations that you do not recall making.
- Verify any local chapter that is authorized to solicit funds on behalf of its parent organization.
- Go directly to a charity or organization’s website instead of clicking on a link to the desired group.
- Any online contribution website should start with https://. The “s” verifies a secure connection, making it less likely for personal information to be stolen.
- Be wary of any charity refusing to detail its mission.
- Keep records, including a letter confirming the charitable status of the organization, for contributions in excess of $250.
If you think you have been scammed, you can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-368-8808, or file a complaint online at www.ago.wv.gov.