WILMINGTON – Attorney General Beau warned Delaware consumers and investors today to be on guard against Ebola-related charitable and investment scams.
Sadly, scams regularly pop up to take advantage of the latest tragedy that’s in the news, such as a natural disaster or a school shooting. The national Better Business Bureau is reporting this month that fraudulent Web sites have been created that claim to be soliciting charitable donations and that scams have been reported in New York that involve phone calls from a fake charity that claimed to be raising money to help Ebola victims Africa.
For investors, the Biden’s Investor Protection Unit and the North American Association of Securities Administrators are warning against requests for financial support from companies claiming Ebola preparedness kits or vaccines. The federal Food and Drug Administration has not approved an Ebola vaccine.
Investors should approach with caution any unsolicited Ebola-related investment opportunities, especially those that come through the Internet, the Delaware Investor Protection Unit and the NAASA warned. The NAASA, which includes Delaware’s Investor Protection Unit, recently found 184 Ebola-related Web sites that the association suspects are fraudulent. Many of those sites have words such as “fund,” “invest,” “stock” or “futures” in their titles.
For consumers who may be the target of Ebola-related charitable scams, Biden and his
Consumer Protection Unit recommend the following tips:
· Make sure a charity is legitimate by visiting the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org, Charity Navigator at www.charitynavigator.org, or the American Institute of Philanthropy at www.charitywatch.org where you can view lists of verified charities. Ensure that the solicitation website and the purported charity match and that the website is secure.
· Hang up on aggressive cold callers and delete unsolicited e-mail. Fraudulent solicitors will do their best to appeal to your emotions; legitimate charities will inform you of their charitable mission and the ways your donation will be put to good use.
· Ask whether your donation is tax-deductible. You have a right to know how your donated funds are used and you are entitled to ask questions and get answers about the charity that will be receiving your money.
· Avoid clicking on links received via email or online pop-ups and do not provide any personal information to anyone you suspect is attempting to fraudulently solicit you. Providing even your address or zip code may allow fraudsters to take advantage of you. • Do not give cash donations and do not supply your credit card number or other personal financial information. If you wish to make a donation, you should pay by check and make the payment out to the charity’s full name. Avoid using initials or abbreviations in making out the check and do not make it payable to anyone except the legitimate charity you want the funds to go to.
Anyone who suspects they have been scammed or have received a suspicious solicitation, 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 email@example.com. Investors can contact the Investor Protection Unit at 302-577-8424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.