Home New York Press Releases 2010 The FBI New York Office Warns Against Haitian Earthquake Fraud

The FBI New York Office Warns Against Haitian Earthquake Fraud

FBI New York January 19, 2010

The FBI New York Office reminds the public to apply a critical eye before giving contributions to anyone soliciting donations on behalf of Haitian victims. In the past, tragedies and natural disasters have inspired individuals with criminal intent to solicit contribution while falsely representing a charitable organization and/or good cause.

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

  • Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links contained within those messages.
  • Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.
  • Beware of organizations with copy-cat names similar to but not exactly the same as those of reputable charities.
  • Rather than following a purported link to a website, verify the legitimacy of non-profit organizations by utilizing various Internet-based resources that may assist in confirming the group’s existence and its non-profit status.
  • Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files, because the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
  • To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
  • Do not be pressured into making contributions, as reputable charities do not use such tactics.
  • Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions. Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
  • 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

Special Agent Richard Kolko, spokesman for the FBI in New York said, “Every time there is a major tragedy, such as the recent earthquake in Haiti, those that intend to take advantage of people’s generosity come out of the woodwork with all types of scams to steal your money and deny it from those that need it most. The New York area has a large Haitian population and this event has hit close to home. We encourage people to donate, but make sure you know who you are donating to and where the money is going. It is vital for everyone to do their due diligence in researching the charitable organization they are contributing to, so that you can be sure your donations are reaching the hands of those who are truly in need of assistance.”

If you believe you have been a victim of fraud from a person or an organization soliciting relief funds on behalf of Haitian earthquake victims, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud at (866) 720-5721. You can also fax information to (225) 334-4707 or e-mail it to disaster@leo.gov.

You can also report suspicious e-mail solicitations or fraudulent websites to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at http://www.ic3.gov.

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