Scammers use crowd funding websites to cash in on tragedy

Experts warn it happens after national and local tragedies

Fresno, California - Law enforcement leaders are sending a warning about crooks who are after money being donated online to help victims of the Florida shooting. Many people will go online and find crowd funding websites like "go-fund-me" to donate money. Crowd funding websites help raise money for people in need, but have also become a target rich environment for scammers looking for opportunities to capitalize on tragedy when people make donations without asking questions.  

Just hours after one of the worst school shootings in American history Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi speaks about another attack, scammers who are after donations for the victims of this tragedy. 

"Go fund me reached out to me already tonight. They've been pulling off anyone if you think you are going to scam people during this tragedy you're not. They are monitoring every site that is popping up," said Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi at a news conference in Florida. "If you are donating to a crowd funding site, Go Fund Me is making sure that those funds will go to true victims and their families."
From the school shooting in Florida to the massacre in Las Vegas and disasters like Hurricane Harvey scam artists are posing as victims online hoping you'll have the heart to mistakenly donate. 

"Scammers see this as an opportunity for dollar signs and they exploit this and they use this to their advantage to scam people out of money who just really want to help," said Kayleena Speakman of Central California's Better Business Bureau "Ultimately the responsibility lies on the person who is doing the donating to really just verify and do your research and verify that this is a legitimate person you are donating to and not the scammer."

Clovis Police Department detective Drew Mosher says this can impact victims in Valley communities too after house fires and even crimes scammers can set up crowd funding accounts for donations.  

"If you put out a go fund me account because you had a catastrophe and you need some money and these other people come in and open up these other accounts or mirror or ghost accounts or shadow accounts in your name and there are five accounts out there you are only getting a fifth of what people are trying to give you," said Mosher.  

For anyone who wants to donate to a crowd funding site the experts say it's important to slow down and verify the money is going where you think it is. Also, if you discover a fake account report it right away, it benefits both the victims and people trying to help.      

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