Beware of charity scams

Former Distict Attorney: "These people were greedy...they were stupid, too"

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In the wake of Superstorm Sandy and the shooting in Newtown, Conn., relief organizations are often collecting money to help people.  However, whenever there is a time of giving, there is a time of scamming.

"…These people were greedy… but on top of being greedy… quite frankly they were stupid, too," said Former District Attorney, Rich White.

White is describing the con men behind a charitable fraud scheme that involved 450,000 victims across the United States $10 million.

White said one claim was, "…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…?"

There were many more false claims the bogus charity would make to persuade potential donors to hand over money.

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

Officials say their strategy was to target the vulnerable and White says, "...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 into the pockets of the telemarketers.

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

Experts advise that you 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.

"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," said Kowalefski.

"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," added White.

Postal Inspectors also 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.

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