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FBI warns would-be donors to be alert for scams

Haiti was rocked on Jan. 12 by the largest earthquake ever recorded in the area. The earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.0 and was centered about 10 miles west of Port-au-Prince.
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 14, 2010

As American donations began flooding into Haiti on Wednesday, the FBI and charity watchdogs warned potential donors to be cautious about where they send their money.

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Would-be donors should verify the legitimacy of groups seeking money and beware of spam attacks from people claiming to be raising money for earthquake relief efforts, the FBI said.

After a tsunami devastated Southeast Asia in 2004, many people lost money by donating to relief organizations that turned out to be fraudulent.

Specific tips from the FBI include:

-- Make contributions directly to known organizations, rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf, to ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes.

-- Be skeptical of officials asking for donations via e-mail or social-networking sites.

-- Verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations, rather than following a purported link to the organization.

-- Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: Providing such information could compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.



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