Scam of the day – May 14, 2013 – 9/11 charity scam

Recently the New Jersey Attorney General announced charges of theft by deception and conspiracy against two men who claimed to be firefighters who were working at a firehouse close to the World Trade Center Towers on 9/11 when they were hit by the terrorist flown airplanes.  The charges relate to sales by the men of 9/11 memorial T-shirts which they sold for $20 each and represented that all of the proceeds went to the families of the victims of the attack on the World Trade Center.  The men sold the T-shirts from a truck painted with the names of police and firefighters who died in the September 11, 2001 attacks.  The truth is that the men who are not New York firefighters pocketed all of the money they received from the sale of the T-shirts and the families of the police and firefighters who died on 9/11 received nothing.  Phony charities set up by scammers to take advantage of the public’s generosity and willingness to help those in need following a tragedy such as the Newtown Connecticut school shooting or the Boston Marathon bombing has become a common  reprehensible scam tactic. TIPS Unfortunately, my motto “trust me, you can’t trust anyone” is too often correct.  When it comes to charitable donations, you can never be sure that a particular charity is legitimate until you have checked them out.  The website www.charitynavigator.org is a great and free resource which can help you to identify not only whether or not a charity is legitimate, but also how much of what is collected by a “legitimate” charity goes toward paying its own salaries and administrative expenses.  Some “legitimate” charities appear to exist primarily for their own well being rather than that of the people whom they say they are helping.  If you are contacted by a charity by phone, email or letter, even if the name of the charity is a legitimate one, you cannot be sure that the communication is not a forgery or a scam.  The best thing to do if you are interested in giving to a particular charity is to check out the charity’s real website for instructions as to how to contribute.