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Well, as I write this, relief efforts are underway in Louisiana after Hurricane Ida left much of the New Orleans area under water.
Sadly, and predictably, the suffering resulting from the storm has already spawned numerous scams perpetrated by people claiming to be raising money to help the hurricane victims.
Just this morning I received several reports of “Ida Relief” scams that have already reared their ugly heads.
These hurricane relief scams take several forms, but many of them will be perpetrated using crowd-funding sites like GoFundMe. Others are being perpetrated via fraudulent Facebook posts and instant messages.
Regardless of how you receive them, the pitches will likely be very similar to this:
“Hurricane Ida has left thousands of people without food and shelter.
Will you help by donating to our relief fund?”
While there are surely some legitimate fundraising campaigns taking place on GoFundMe and social media, it’s likely that many of them are nothing more than scams intended to enrich the scammers by taking advantage of your kindness and compassion.
If you really want to help the victims of Hurricane Ida (and other natural disasters), it’s best to send your donations directly to recognized relief organizations that have a good record with the researchers at Charity Navigator.
Charity Navigator is very good at evaluating the performance of charitable organizations in regards to the percentage of donations they actually place in the hands of the people needing assistance.
While it’s impossible to know for certain that your generous donations will actually end up going to the people who need it, choosing one of the organizations vetted by Charity Navigator will be a lot safer than donating to some stranger who happens to pop up on GoFundMe or Facebook.
Bottom line: It’s commendable to want to help those in need, but any money that’s sent to a scammer won’t do much to help the people who are in desperate need of relief.