Oklahoma officials are warning people to beware of fraudulent charities that are cropping up to take advantage of the tragedy. At least 24 people, including nine children, were killed in what officials say was the strongest tornado to ever touch down in the United States.
As residents return to their flattened communities, legitimate charities are on the scene, helping with disaster recovery efforts.
Scammers are also out in force, seeking to profit from the tragedy by creating fake online relief funds via websites and social media platforms to divert aid from the victims.
James Lee, executive director of the Consumer Fraud Center, says we must do our homework before donating to charities.
- When in doubt about where to send a donation, consider supporting a reputable first-responder organization such as the American Red Cross.
- Want to make a donation online? Go to a reputable charity’s website rather than respond to an email solicitation.
- AARP Foundation has set up the AARP Foundation Oklahoma Tornado Relief Fund to support victims.
On Wednesday, it will be two years since a deadly tornado touched down in Joplin, Mo. More than 160 people were killed, and at least 1,000 were injured. Sadly, an outpouring of volunteers and donations was accompanied by an outpouring of scam artists. According to a local news report, Missouri fielded more than 250 complaints about fraudulent charities and other crimes.
Scammers were also out in numbers, attempting to profit from the deadly Boston marathon bombing in April and the horrific shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last December.