Florida Department of Financial Services warns against Hurricane Dorian donation scams
SARASOTA - "We see the absolute best in people. The giving, the caring, the emotions but it brings out the worst in others,” said The Florida Department of Financial Services, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis.
CFO Patronis is warning people to be careful where they choose to donate funds for Hurricane Dorian relief, as online scammers look to take advantage of people’s generosity.
"They will use legitimate [crowd] funding type websites in order to scam money from legitimate folks that want to give,” said Patronis.
Patronis says websites such as GoFundMe, RocketHub, and YouCaring are used to trick donors to send money the Bahamas but end up in someone’s bank account instead. Scammers typically use stories that pull at the hearts and generally use children as a means of legitimizing their story.
"They will put legitimate faces and emotions and narratives that go along with them," Patronis said. "Once you give them the money there’s no going back.”
Tips for donors are to make sure the more information the better for donations, checking social media and do your won research, keeping records of donations, and never feeling pressured to give, take your time and find the right organization.
"If it sounds too good to be true and the narrative is too sensational it probably is." said Patronis. "I would just encourage people err on the side of caution, fund raising through Facebook that is out in the public domain is probably not the best way to make a difference in the lives of those affected by Dorian.”
Patronis says donating through organizations like the Red Cross or the Salvation Army assures your donations are going to the right people.
If you’d like to report a scam to the Florida Department of Financial Services go to FraudFreeFlorida.com.