Another natural disaster, another opportunity for fraudsters

It has already begun.  The oil continues to flow albeit slower in the Gulf of Mexico, and fraudsters have been hard at work establishing ways to exploit the general public using the disaster as their lure, just as they have exploited pretty much every other world wide disaster over the years.

Scams identified to date include on-line stock sale offers in companies appearing to be associated with the cleanup efforts,  bogus job offers relating to clean-up companies, and solicitations of funds and contributions to be sent for oil spill relief efforts.  The goal of these exploits is to fraudulently obtain your personal information and your funds, neither of which will be used legitimately.

You need to be careful.  Due diligence is in order.  Before you provide any information or send any contributions relating to the oil spill disaster, do your homework and assure yourself that the organization and offers are legitimate.  If you can’t legitimize the information objectively, run don’t walk away from their sites and offers.

It is just another sad sign of the state of our society, and so unfortunate that so many seek to take advantage of our emotional willingness to help in times of need for their own personal exploits.  Not only does it make everyone more skeptical to help at all, furthering the erosion of our society, it significantly effects the legitimate organizations who truly want to help those in need.

11 thoughts on “Another natural disaster, another opportunity for fraudsters”

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  4. Steve,

    Another good post. It’s important to be reminded of this.

    Donors can begin by asking to have the charity send them a copy of their most recent financial statement and tax return. The organizations that are upfront and transparent will just direct you to a spot on their website. They have nothing to hide.

    To do some research online, go to Charity Navigator (, The Better Business Bureau ( and Guide Star (

    In Connecticut organizations that solicit funds must register with the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (

    Many people naturally want to help. As you said, please do your homework before doing your part.


    Thomas F. Scanlon, CPA, CFP®

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