Watch out for fake tornado relief fundraising campaigns
Tuesday, September 25, 2018, 2:02 PM - Natural disasters can be golden opportunities for online scammers, and the tornadoes that struck the National Capital Region last week are no exception.
As residents try to get back up on their feet, dozens of fundraising campaigns have sprung up, some scant information about who's getting the money.
Adrienne Gonzalez, who tracks and investigates charity scams for a website called GoFraudMe, said fraudulent campaigns after major events "pop up pretty regularly."
"Any kind of chaotic situation, the scammers kind of come out of the woodwork and try to take advantage," she told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning.
MORE OTTAWA-AREA TORNADO COVERAGE
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'THEY CAN SAY THEY'RE ANYBODY'
Gonzalez had a quick look through some of the campaigns that have sprung up since the tornadoes in Ottawa, Gatineau and Calabogie, and found a suspicious one trying to raise $50,000, set up by someone claiming to be from Ottawa.
"He just said, ' Let's rebuild,' and that was about it. So I would avoid anything that doesn't have any kind of real plan for where the money is going," she said.
"It's important to keep in mind that when somebody opens up a campaign, they can say they're anybody, they can claim any kind of story, and GoFundMe says in their terms and conditions that they do not verify campaigns."
SEE ALSO: How to help tornado victims
TIPS FOR ONLINE DONATING
- Any individual or family who's the subject of a GoFundMe campaign should be named, Gonzalez said.
- Ideally, the person or family should also be listed as the beneficiary of the campaign, which you can find on the right-hand side of the campaign page. When the feature is enabled, it ensures that only the beneficiaries can touch the money — not the person who started the campaign.
- If a campaign looks suspicious, report it to GoFundMe.