FBI Pittsburgh
Public Affairs Officer Catherine Policicchio
(412) 432-4291
October 31, 2018

FBI Pittsburgh Warns Public About Fake Scams in Wake of Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting

In the aftermath of the Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting that occurred on October 27, 2018, FBI Pittsburgh has been made aware of potential scammers who are attempting to fraudulently solicit donations for the victims.

Members of the Pittsburgh community and concerned public from around the world feel moved to contribute to victim assistance programs and charitable organizations in the wake of this tragic shooting. The FBI reminds the public to be alert and conduct due diligence before giving to anyone soliciting donations on behalf of the shooting victims.

Solicitations can originate as emails, websites, door-to-door collections, mailings, telephone calls, or text messages. Some fraudsters may even claim they will provide direct compensation to the victims themselves after acquiring personal information. The FBI recommends that everyone take precautions to ensure their contributions or personal information does not end up in the hands of criminals.

Before making a donation of any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines, including the following:

  • Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming emails, including by clicking links contained within those messages, because they may contain computer viruses.
  • 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.
  • To ensure that contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make donations directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation 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.
  • Avoid cash donations if possible. Pay by debit or credit card or write a check directly to the charity. Do not make checks payable to individuals.

“FBI Pittsburgh wants criminals who plan to exploit people’s pockets and generosity to know it won’t be tolerated,” said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Robert Jones. “We remain vigilant to the numerous types of scams that divert resources from genuine organizations helping the victims, even during times of crisis.”

You can report suspicious email solicitations or fraudulent websites to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov