In the wake of a disaster, crowdfunding websites such as GoFundMe have made it easier and faster for charities to collect and distribute financial donations to help victims. These donations are typically built on trust – you trust that the person or charity accepting your money will use it as promised. This is not always the case, however. Be cautious of crowdfunding requests surrounding disastrous events because they could contain fraud.
How crowdfunding charity scams work
After a disaster, scammers will create campaigns on crowdfunding websites. For example, after the Orlando nightclub shootings, scammers created campaigns to raise money for a specific victim, promising to help with funeral costs or family support. Many of these scammers do not even know the victim or the victim’s family. Sometimes scammers will steal photos from the victim’s social media sites to trick you into thinking their campaign is legitimate.
It’s good practice to only donate money to people or charities you know and trust. If you don’t know the person or have never heard of the charity and they somehow found you through social media, it’s a good chance they are fraudsters.
If you want to help out and donate to the cause, we recommend you reach out to a national charity that is established and trustworthy such as The Red Cross or Salvation Army. These organizations can also put you in touch with local charities that have experience in the region where the disaster or event occurred.
Additionally, you should never provide account numbers, Social Security numbers or any personal information to strangers. If you are not sure who is contacting you, don’t give out your information.