Charity Hoaxes After the Boston Explosions

by Kris Venezia, Associated Press
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Boston Marathon Explosions Memorial

Dillsnufus, flickr

Thieves Set Up Fake Donation Sites to Steal Money.

Many people have been eager to donate blood and money to help victims of the Boston bombings, but one group that verifies the authenticity of charities says people should be careful.

According to Vice President of Charity Navigator Sandra Miniutti, over 100 websites have been started since the tragedy asking for donations, and she said many of them are fake.

"Many times they are actually run by criminals overseas who stole people's identity and their money," Miniutti said.

Words like 'Boston Marathon' or 'Bombings' in the website name are key terms scammers use to trick donors, according to Miniutti.

"Donors need to be very careful when they go out on the web and do a Google search using these key terms that they're not landing on one of these bogus websites," she said.

Like numerous disasters before, hoaxes and conspiracies have popped up in the chaotic first days after the tragedy.

In one case, a bogus photo circulated on social media showing a young girl running, with some versions saying she had died while running the marathon for Sandy Hook shooting victims. A Virginia charity linked to the picture says it's not clear whether donations were solicited using the photo but even so, the charity's website quickly crashed under the weight of more than 1 million views.

Miniutti said after Hurricane Katrina, over 4,000 fraudulent websites were created.

Miniutti advised that people need to use caution and avoid scammers when they're out on the town.

"If you see people, asking for money, standing outside of a store or perhaps you see fundraisers in bars, just try to make sure you actually know where that money is going, and it's not going to somebody's back pocket," she said.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has started the One Fund to aid those impacted by the Boston bombings.

Sandra Miniutti said these are some questions to ask before donating:

- What charity do they intend to send the money to?
- Does it have non-profit status?
- How will the money be designated?
- Are they going to support the victims and families or will it help first responders?
- Will the money be held till the future to help with the long-term impacts of the tragedy or given immediately?

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