Scammers may already be out preying on people seeking to make donations to family members of the 10 people gunned down May 14 in Buffalo, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced, warning about what often happens after a tragedy.
“As New Yorkers from every corner of the state show their support and solidarity with the Buffalo community, I urge them to be careful of sham charities and make sure they give to trustworthy organizations and groups,” James said May 15 in a statement to BET.com. “I join the whole Buffalo community and the entire state of New York in mourning this senseless, hate-filled act of terror.”
According to the Buffalo Police Department, Payton Gendron, 18, entered the Tops Friendly Markets store with a military-style assault rifle and opened fire. Investigators believe it was a racially motivated attack, the Associated Press reports.
James recommended researching newly formed charities before making a donation. Her office says new organizations often emerge to meet community needs. Many of them are “well-intentioned and some may provide innovative forms of assistance” but lack the necessary infrastructure and experience. At the same time, others turn out to be fraudulent organizations.
Before giving, the attorney general’s office suggests reviewing the organization’s financial reports, which states required them to file. They recommend donating to familiar charities with a track record. Check the attorney general’s website, charitiesnys.com, for financial reports of charities, or ask the charity directly for its reports.
Caution is required when giving online where donors are vulnerable to email scams. Before sending money, find out who is behind email solicitations, the office says. People should also be careful when giving through social media or other fundraising sites.
Never give cash. It’s safer to donate by a check made payable to the organization or through the charity’s website. Also, check with the charity to confirm that it authorized contributions through text message before hitting the send button.
Donors in New York who suspect fraud should contact the Charities Bureau at firstname.lastname@example.org.