Disaster in Texas brings fake charities out of the woodwork

Disasters like Hurricane Harvey bring out the best of people. We’ve seen that dozens of times this week as people rescue and help victims of the storm. They also brings out the worst in people, as scammers see disasters as an opportunity to take money from people who want to help.

As with recent tragedies, get ready to see scams across social media and in emails. In the past, some scammers have taken to the crowdfunding site GoFundMe to try and trick people into sending them money. Earlier this year, following the bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, a scammer built a GoFundMe campaign posing as the father of a victim. The scammer asked people to help him pay for funeral expenses for his daughter who was killed.

She later saw the campaign, and she let people know she was not only alive and well, but she didn’t even attend the concert.

This website, GoFraudMe, compiles reports of fake GoFundMe campaigns and searches for them as well. They’ve found cases where scammers will find a verified campaign and copy it, hoping people will send money to the fake one.

I reached out to GoFundMe for a response, but have not received one yet. But, according to GoFraudMe, the site did respond to a newspaper story following the Manchester bombing to say they have emergency procedures in incidents like those where moderators examine every single GoFundMe campaign to verify that it is real.

I searched GoFundMe Tuesday and found over 13,000 campaigns with “hurricane” in the title. I browsed through hundreds of those campaigns raising money for victims, as well as for people who are trying to help.

GoFundMe, according to its website guarantees money donated to campaigns are safe and that if “anything is not right” donors will receive a full refund.

To verify if a GoFundMe campaign is legitimate, go to the GoFundMe website. A link to a list of verified campaigns is at the top of the home page, and you can also search for the name of the campaign you’d like to support.

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