The Plague of Ebola-Related Scams Is Spreading Like a Virus
It is routine for con artists to gear up whenever something that provokes fear or sympathy makes headlines. In this case, they have both. And that means, it's vastly more likely that the plague of Ebola-related scams will touch you than the disease itself.
The Better Business Bureau is warning that fundraising efforts have popped up on crowd-funding sites -- and they're not all on the up and up.
The BBB also says that its New York office has fielded calls about an apparent telephone solicitation scam involving a charity claiming to be raising money to help those with Ebola. The calls are not from a legitimate charity, however, but from a caller pretending to be from a non-existent Bronx, N.Y., chapter of a well-known organization.
Investors Should Be Cautious, Too
Another variant of scam to beware is one that purports to offer you a way to profit from the disease. That scam aims to rip off investors by convincing them a business will grow exponentially from a "cure" or tool, like face-masks, that will see a surge in sales due to the inevitable demand. It's important to vet any claims about a potential investment before putting your money into it.
When it comes to charities, there are plenty of legitimate ones that are helping Ebola victims. One way to play it safe is by seeking out reputable charities, rather than responding to solicitations that come to you. That will also ensure your donation goes where you want it to, rather than giving a large slice of it to a fundraising company. You can check out the legitimacy of a charity by using such websites as CharityNavigator.org, Guidestar.org and Give.org.
In addition, messages related to helping those Ebola inevitably will get conveyed on social networks, giving the appearance that friends or relatives are endorsing a fundraising effort. Apply some serious skepticism before giving money to crowd-sourced campaigns. It's easy for cons to appear legitimate. A fundraiser on GoFundMe supposedly for infected Dallas nurse Amber Joy Vinson, for example, apparently had not been authorized by anyone in her family, the BBB said -- and the page has since been pulled down.