(NEW YORK) — Scammers may be looking to cash in on the public’s generosity following the Sandy Hook massacre, the Better Business Bureau warned.
“It is a challenge to be on guard because public sympathy and emotions are running high,” said Bennett Weiner, chief operating officer of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, a group that helps charitable donors make informed decisions.
Weiner said it’s difficult for scams to be detected in the first week following every national tragedy, however he suspects unscrupulous people are already out there, eager to cash in on the massacre.
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False websites or phone calls soliciting help for the victims’ families are two of the easiest and most common scams Weiner said he sees.
“They’re hard to identify because people don’t know they’ve been taken and they’re not going to know until down the road,” he said.
After the Sandy Hook massacre, countless Facebook pages for the victims, listings on crowdfunding sites and community drives have been established to solicit donations.
While many of them may be legitimate, Weiner warns people to do their research.
“You really have to be watching out for newly created things. There may be some well-intended effort, but you have no way to look at their track record,” he said. “I can tell you from experience there are some cautions associated with it.”
Any fundraising effort that makes vague statements, such as “we’re going to help the victims and families,” is another red flag to watch out for, Weiner said.
Whether it’s fundraising for the Aurora theater victims or a local terminally ill child, Weiner said the BBB sees these kinds of scams “time and time again” and actively investigates them.
“It is a challenge to be on guard after a tragedy,” he said. “But you shouldn’t give to any organization without checking them out first.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ivaylo Vezenkov and Lauren del Valle, CNN
Jackie Wattles, CNN
Paul Menser, BizMojo Idaho