Several Ebola scams and dubious fundraisers have emerged in the United States since the outbreak became headline news, warns the Better Business Bureau (BBB), a nonprofit organization that focuses on advancing marketplace trust in the US, Canada and Mexico.
Potential donors are warned to beware even of new charities set up by well-intentioned individuals. For example, a GoFundMe was placed online on Wednesday. It aims to raise money for Amber Joy Vinson, the nurse who is currently being treated for Ebola in Atlanta. Although the fundraiser may have noble intentions, Vinson’s family had told BBB they have not been consulted and did not authorize the effort.
The webpage has been shut down, however, BBB says there are over one hundred GoGFundMe pages allegedly raising money for a wide range of Ebola campaigns.
Many BBB branches have received reports of supposed organizations telephoning households requesting Ebola donations. When asked which charity they worked for, the callers say it is a Bronx-based one. According to BBB Metro New York, no such charity exists and the phone calls are probably from a scammer.
BBB is urging donors to make sure their money goes to reputable charities, especially when the cause is linked to a theme that has gained media attention.
You can check at give.org to find out whether the charity is an authentic one.
Fraudulent fundraising efforts following disasters and epidemics are common. In 2013, a woman received an 8-year prison sentence in New York for falsely claiming she was related to one of the children killed in the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. and raising money for a bogus charity.
A string of fake charities popped up after Hurricane Sandy, concentrating mainly on elderly donors. A notorious scam emerged after the earthquake that destroyed parts of Haiti in 2010, saying it was raising money for the British Red Cross.
Ever since Thomas Eric Duncan was diagnosed as the first patient to be diagnosed with Ebola infection on US soil, the number of bogus charities has skyrocketed across the country.