US Warns on Ebola Charity Scams
28 October 2014 at 9:10 am
Fake charities have started to emerge in the USA in the wake of the Ebola virus scare, forcing watchdog organisations to warn people to be wary of scams.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) have issued alerts claiming that there could be more than 100 fake fundraising campaigns.
The Ebola virus has killed almost 5,000 people in West Africa and isolated cases of infection have been detected in some western countries.
“Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about a variety of Ebola-related scams and problematic fundraisers that have emerged recently,” a statement from the BBB said.
“A fundraising page on GoFundMe was created on Wednesday to raise donations for Amber Joy Vinson, the nurse who traveled from Dallas to Cleveland and is currently being treated in Atlanta for Ebola.
“The site may have been the work of a well-intentioned individual, but members of Vinson’s family tell BBB they did not authorize the effort. Although that page has since been shut down, there are more than 100 GoFundMe pages raising money for various Ebola campaigns.
“Several BBBs have also reported on phone solicitation from an organization supposedly raising money to help with Ebola. When pressed, the caller says he is from a famous charity’s chapter in the Bronx, New York.
“BBB Metro New York confirmed that no such branch exists and that the solicitation is likely a scam.”
The FTC said fake charities and fundraising campaigns were potentially damaging legitimate ones.
“Urgent appeals for aid that you get by phone or mail, by e-mail, on websites, or even in person, may not be on the up-and-up,” a statement said.
“Unfortunately, legitimate charities face competition from fraudsters who either solicit for bogus charities or aren’t honest about how a so-called charity will use your contribution.”
The FTC recommended that people only donate to charities you know and trust, be alert for charities that seem to have sprung up overnight in connection with current events, ask if a caller is a paid fundraiser, who they work for, and what percentage of their donation goes to the charity and to the fundraiser.
In Australia the Australian Charity and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) regulates the charity status of organisations.
The ACNC has a charity register where people can enter the name of a charity to find out if it is legitimate.