Attorney General warns of charity scams during Hurricane Matthew

How to avoid Hurricane Matthew charity scams
Posted at 5:33 PM, Oct 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-05 18:15:08-04

As news of Hurricane Matthew's aftermath spreads, the Florida Attorney General offers a warning to those looking to help out. 

This week, Atty Gen. Pam Bondi issued a warning about false websites and charities popping claiming to offer help with Hurricane Matthew recovery efforts. 

Her office will partner with the online crowd funding site, GoFundMe, vet new and existing accounts asking for donations. 

"A simple search through a search engine makes it really easy to find out if people have been scammed in the past," said Eric Olsen, Division Dir. for the Hillsborough Co. Consumer Protection division.

He says charity scams are typical after storms of Matthew's magnitude. 

"The Internet makes it really easy for people to commit crimes," he said. 

He also says if you plan to give, give to someone you've already worked with and trust. 

Claude Reginald Jean founded the Future of Haiti Organization, which has an orphanage on the island. 

Jean is now collecting donations to send to Haiti after the hurricane devastated the island. 

He says he and his volunteers try to post pictures online through social media to show their donors where their money and items end up. 

"You bring them toys and, like, some people never had Christmas," he said. 

His organization also offers a direct link on their website to their report on Guidestar, which provides financial information about non-profits. 

Olden says most scammers are looking to get one thing from you: money. 

"Rally it usually gets back to you having to pay something," he said. 

The Florida Attorney General recommends donors contact them to check if an organization has any complaints filed against it. 

They also tell donors to be weary of new organizations with names that sound similar to established charities. 

The Better Business Bureau also offers online tips on how to spot a potential charity scam.