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ABC-7 at 4: Natural Disaster Charity Fraud

El Paso, TX (KVIA-TX)- As we watched the natural disaster unfold in Ruidoso last week, we all wanted to help the small community that had been ravaged by fire. As we watched the news, so did criminals, who will not hesitate to exploit you and others who want to help those who need help in Ruidoso, just as they did with the horrific wildfires in Maui in 2023.

The FBI wants to remind the community of natural disaster/charity fraud scams that will pop up right now as our community gathers donations to assist those in Ruidoso.

In charity fraud schemes, criminals pull on people's heartstrings in hopes of transforming their compassion into cash. But instead of using those donations to help others, the creators of these fake organizations use the funds for personal gain or other illicit purposes. Pleas for help may come across different platforms such as email, texts, crowdfunding sites such as GoFundMe, social media, and cold calling to solicit donations.

Be careful; in addition to lining their own pockets with your generous donations, scammers may also be after your personal and financial information. Keep these tips in mind before making a monetary contribution:

First, only donate to established charities or groups whose work you know or trust. Do your research. Use the Federal Trade Commission's resources to examine a charity's track record. Be wary of an organization with a copycat name or a name similar to a reputable group. Likewise, if a new organization claims to help victims of recent high-profile disasters, be wary. Most legitimate charity websites end in ".org" rather than ".com".

Avoid charities that ask you to pay by cash, gift card, virtual currency, or wire transfer. Instead, pay by credit card or write a check directly to the charity, not to an individual. If someone you don't know emails or texts you, don't click on links or open any attachments they send you. You should independently verify any requests from persons or businesses with whom you may or may not be associated.

Don't provide personal information to emails, robocalls, or robotexts.

Once the rebuilding starts, after any natural disaster, carefully vet any contractors before hiring them to work on your home or business.

We all want to help those in need; we just want to make sure your donations go to the people in need, not to scammers. 

If you feel that you have become a victim of charity fraud, please get in touch with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at or call our office at (915) 832-5000.

Article Topic Follows: Local Focus
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Nichole Gomez

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Nichole Gomez

Nichole Gomez is the producer and host of ABC-7 at 4.


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