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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The FBI Pittsburgh office is warning people to be careful of the charities, organizations and collectors they are giving donations to in the wake of the Squirrel Hill synagogue shooting.
According to the FBI, investigators are looking into reports of potential scammers trying to fraudulently solicit donations.
In a press release, FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Robert Jones says: “FBI Pittsburgh wants criminals who plan to exploit people’s pockets and generosity to know it won’t be tolerated. We remain vigilant to the numerous types of scams that divert resources from genuine organizations helping the victims, even during times of crisis.”
The FBI says anyone who wants to donate should conduct their due diligence before giving money to anyone soliciting donations for the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting victims.
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Those solicitations can include emails, websites, door-to-door collections, mailings, telephone calls and text messaging.
The FBI Pittsburgh Office offers these guidelines to follow before making any kind of donation:
- Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming emails, including by clicking links contained within those messages, because they may contain computer viruses.
- Be cautious of individuals representing themselves as victims or officials asking for donations via email or social networking sites.
- Beware of organizations with copycat names similar to but not exactly the same as those of reputable charities.
- Rather than following a purported link to a website, verify the existence and legitimacy of non-profit organizations by using Internet-based resources.
- To ensure that contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make donations directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
- Do not be pressured into making contributions; reputable charities do not use coercive tactics.
- Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions.
- Avoid cash donations if possible. Pay by debit or credit card or write a check directly to the charity. Do not make checks payable to individuals.
Meanwhile, if you’d like to report suspicious solicitations, you can do so at this link to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.