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Biden Warns Delawareans to Avoid Falling Victim to Storm-Related Financial Scams

Date Posted: Thursday, November 1st, 2012
Categories:  Department of Justice Fraud Press Releases

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Wilmington – Attorney General Beau Biden urged Delawareans to be aware of criminals running financial scams related to the recent damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

“Every time there is a natural disaster we see fraudsters trying to profit off of the destruction and take advantage of people’s desire to help,” said Biden, who yesterday issued a warning about fraudulent home repair schemes in the wake of Sandy. “Whether you are repairing damage to your home or yard, or looking to donate to a charity to help others, there are a few steps you should take to ensure you do not fall victim to a scam.”

Anyone who suspects they have been scammed or have received a suspicious call, Biden said, should immediately call the Attorney General’s toll-free Consumer Hotline at 1-800-220-5424 or email the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit at consumer.protection@state.de.us.

The types of scams Delawareans should be especially aware of in the wake of the recent storm include:
• Cold-calling telephone salespeople, advertisements, and Internet postings that promote investment pools or bonds to help storm victims, or tout water-removal or purification technologies, electricity-generating devices and distressed real estate remediation programs should be a red flag for investors.
• Scams looking for money; some will be attempting to steal credit card information for identity theft.
• Fake victims may attempt to use social media to dupe well-intentioned donors.  Do not donate to unknown individuals that purport to need aid via posts on Facebook, Craigslist, Twitter or other social media sites.
Biden pointed out that within a week after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, approximately 2,000 fraudulent Web sites went up online. To protect themselves against fraud, Biden urged Delawareans to:
• Make sure a charity is legitimate by visiting the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org, Charity Navigator atwww.charitynavigator.org, or the American Institute of Philanthropy at www.charitywatch.org where you can view lists of verified charities.
• Hang up on aggressive cold callers promoting hurricane-related investments and delete unsolicited e-mail or Internet messages discussing small companies with new hurricane-related technologies or products.
• Use common sense. Pie-in-the-sky promises often signal investment fraud.

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