TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is warning Florida residents of potential acts of charity fraud related to the condo collapse in Surfside, according to a consumer alert.
Moody issued the alert reminding people that they must be careful while making donations to support those affected by the collapse. While no complaints have been issued yet, Moody said these “scammers” may exploit the tragedy for profit.
“My heart breaks for those struck by the devastation in Surfside and all of those impacted by this unfathomable disaster,” Moody said. “I have seen first-hand the remarkable and generous efforts of legitimate charities and individuals helping the families affected. No doubt, people want to come to the aid of their fellow Floridians struck by this catastrophe, but please be cautious of bad actors trying to take advantage of generous donors.”
To avoid being taken advantage of, Moody gave the following guidelines to potential donors:
- Make sure the charity is registered and eligible to solicit in Florida by visiting FDACS.gov/ConsumerServices and clicking Check-A-Charity
- Contact the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance at Give.org or Charity Navigator to determine whether a charity has any complaints against them
- Research how the charity uses donations
- Refrain from providing banking information to unsolicited calls or emails on behalf of a charity
- Carefully review the charity’s name before making a donation.
Issues can also arise from fake GofundMe accounts and other online campaigns. If you think a campaign is fake, report them to the Attorney General’s office with the campaign’s website.
Also keep an eye out for the names of beneficiaries since the campaign might be adding beneficiaries to the page. Be sure to inform the website campaign website if a potential recipient doesn’t want a crowdfunding campaign.
“Charity scams” can be reported by calling the Attorney General’s Office at 1-866-9NO-SCAM or visiting MyFloridaLegal.com.
You can also check a charity’s status or file a complaint about a registered charity by visiting Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services or calling 1-800-435-7352.