FBI Memphis
Public Affairs Officer Elizabeth Clement-Webb
December 12, 2023

FBI Warns Tennesseans of Charity and Disaster Fraud

MEMPHIS—The FBI Memphis Field Office is warning Tennesseans of charity and disaster fraud. During times of natural disasters, such as the recent tornadoes that impacted middle Tennessee, criminals try to exploit members of the public looking to support humanitarian efforts.

“Whether you are directly impacted or want to help, scammers will take advantage of a natural disaster to steal your money, your personal information, or both,” said Special Agent in Charge Douglas DePodesta of the FBI Memphis Field Office.

Protect Yourself

The following are tips on how to avoid falling victim to charity and disaster fraud:

  • Give to established charities or groups whose work you know and trust.
  • Be aware of organizations with copycat names or names similar to reputable organizations.
  • Be wary of new organizations that claim to aid victims of recent high-profile disasters.
  • Do your research. Use the Federal Trade Commission’s resources to examine the track record of a charity.
  • Give using a check or credit card. If a charity or organization asks you to donate through cash, gift card, wire transfer, or cryptocurrency, it’s probably a scam. Learn more about this trick from the FTC.
  • Practice good cyber hygiene:
    • Don't click links or open email attachments from someone you don't know.
    • Manually type out links instead of clicking on them.
    • Don't provide any personal information in response to an email, robocall, or robotext.
    • Check the website’s address—most legitimate charity organization websites use .org, not .com.
  • After a natural disaster or other emergency, carefully vet any contractors before hiring them to work on your home or business.

Report Fraud

If you think you are a victim of charity or disaster fraud, report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud at 1-866-720-5721 or online at the Department of Justice National Center for Disaster Fraud. You can also report suspicious email solicitations or fraudulent websites to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.