How you can protect yourself against false claims solicitors

Posted at: 01/18/2013 9:53 PM
By: Berkeley Brean

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy and the shooting in Connecticut, relief organizations were out, collecting money to help people. However, whenever there is a time of giving, there's a chance you could be taken advantage of.

News10NBC wants to give you a heads up on what to watch out for these examples might help you avoid being a target.

Rich White, former prosecutor, said, “These people were greedy, but on top of being greedy, quite frankly they were stupid too.”

Rich White is describing the con men behind a charitable fraud scheme that involved $450,000 victims across the U.S., and a whopping $10 million.

Rich White said, “Did you know that police officers have to buy their own bullet proof vests and if they can't afford them, they just can't get them?”

That is one of the many false claims solicitors for a bogus charity would make to persuade potential donors to hand over money.

White said, “Those lies and the greedy practice on their part is what opened the door in this instance to a constitutionally permitted prosecution. "

Officials say their strategy was to target the vulnerable.

White said, “And convince them that the little they had, the little they had to give, was going to do something good and unfortunately, the opposite was true.”

Postal inspectors say just pennies on the dollar actually went to any charity. The rest of the money went in the pockets of the telemarketers.

Dean Kowalefski, US Postal Inspector, said, “The owners of the company were living large. They had large homes, recreational vehicles, boats, water skis, and jet skis; things like that."

Some advice, do not donate money over the phone, unless you are sure you know the charity. Instead, ask them to send you something in the mail.

Dean Kowalefski, US Postal Inspector, said, “In this case and in many of the cases, the unreputable telemarketers if you ask for something in writing - you're not going to get anything."

White said, “They can't tolerate that practice. For them to be successful they need to get the pressure sales they sell someone right then or they are on to the next one."

Some additional advice, postal inspectors say you should never donate cash. If you are writing a check, be sure to write it out for the name of the organization, never an individual.