Hurricane Ida, end of Afghanistan War the latest current events to bring out scammers
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - It’s sad that whether it’s con artists posing as contractors to rip off people who have just been in a tornado or a widow whose money is taken by unscrupulous suitors, scammers seem to come out of the woodwork when people are at their most vulnerable.
So that’s why two of the latest high-profile current events are once again producing another chance for well-meaning people to get ripped off.
After all it’s only natural that we want to find a way to reach out and help when we see the trauma and suffering from Hurricane Ida along the Gulf Coast or the soldiers and refugees fleeing Afghanistan as the U.S. pulled out of that country after a 20 year occupation.
“Unfortunately scammers also see that heart and generosity we have here in the Ozarks and they want to take advantage of it and steal from people,” said Stephanie Garland, the Regional Director for the Better Business Bureau in Springfield.
In the case of Afghanistan where the war ended in chaotic fashion scammers are contacting people and claiming they need money to get out of the country.
“This type of scam sounds like a brand new version of an older scam,” Garland explained. “It usually mentions he or she is a soldier overseas serving our country. The scammer says that this person has two-to-three children who need help looking for a good wife and mother for the two kids, can you help me, we just need to get back to the United States. People give money and unfortunately it never happens.”
One way to discern whether or not you’re receiving fake photos or information?
“You can actually do something called a Reverse Google Image Search where you can search for the image of the person that he or she has sent you,” Garland said. “It’s usually a man who’s doing this so whenever you pull it up you’ll see if the man is found on other websites. You’ll find if there’s a Facebook page. There are a lot of ways that people unfortunately can steal images and use it for their advantage. We see this in other scams too where people’s identity is stolen and they may actually combine Person A’s identity with Person B’s identity and create a brand new person. So it might be a picture from one person but a different ID from another.”
For those looking to make donations to victims of Hurricane Ida, the Better Business Bureau recommends giving to an established charity like the American Red Cross.
The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance offers the following tips for those who wish to donate safely:
- Donate to experienced groups that are ready to provide quick and effective assistance.
- Look for appeals that are upfront and clear about what disaster relief services you are supporting.
- Watch out for claims that 100% of donations will assist relief victims.
- Donating money is the quickest way to help.
- Be sure to verify the trustworthiness of the organization.
“There’s going to be a lot of fake Crowdfunding sites that are going to pop up,” Garland pointed out. “Beware of those that just pop up overnight. Also watch out if these people are saying a hundred percent will go to the mission work instead of staffing costs. Usually anywhere from seven-to-twelve cents on-the-dollar should be going to staffing costs because otherwise the staff can’t possibly get room-and-board for themselves when they’re going down there to help. They won’t have food, lodging, etc.”
Also be aware that other fraudulent schemes may still pop up around these events.
“In a previous situation we’ve had reported to us after a natural disaster that there was a fake pet rescue going around in the Florida area,” Garland said. “So be skeptical and if you have any questions, reach out. We are a free resource and as a non-profit we are here for you.”
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