Look out for fake donation links for Afghanistan and Haiti relief

Woman shopping online using laptop
Scammers often set up fake fundraisers online and on social media after global disasters. Fiordaliso/Getty Images
  • After crises like the Afghan refugee crisis, scammers fill the internet with fake fundraisers.
  • Scammers take advantage of people’s desires to help during global tragedies.
  • Here’s how you can donate wisely, and avoid lining scammers’ pockets.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

World events like the earthquake in Haiti, the Afghan refugee crisis, and the California wildfires attract massive global relief efforts, often from individuals wanting to help. But they can also breed a flood of online scammers looking to take advantage of Good Samaritans.

People need to be cautious with which organizations or fundraisers they give money to and do research on the organization before typing in their credit card number, the Better Business Bureau’s Laura Blankenship told WDIV Local 4.

“You’ll see nonprofits just pop up overnight,” she said. “If you couldn’t find any information about the nonprofit prior to whenever the event happened, that’s a huge red flag.”

Here’s how you can help people in need – and make sure your dollars are going to the right place:

  • Do background research on the organization. Make sure it’s an organization with an established history of providing relief in the past and that it has a presence on the ground in whichever area it claims to help.
  • Pay close attention to web addresses. Some scammers will use a slightly different versions of the name of a well-known organization to trick people into donating to the wrong place.
  • Consider donating to charities approved by BBB, like Americares, GlobalGiving Foundation, and Save The Children. See a list of accredited charities here.

Fake fundraisers also sprang up following the deadly collapse of a condo in Surfside, Florida, where city officials urged people to direct relief efforts to approved agencies instead of potentially fraudulent GoFundMe campaigns. Following the building’s collapse, GoFundMe took down several fundraisers hosted on the website, though the company stated that the accounts had been taken down out of an abundance of caution and that no fraud had been confirmed.

Blankenship warned that crowdfunding sites can be effective ways for money to go directly to intended recipients, but that organizers may not always know the person they’re claiming to help.