BBB with warnings on 5/14 scams
Scammers are surfacing and trying to take advantage of the attack in Buffalo on May 14, with some attempting to do so with phony ads like ones for the Choose Love Bills shirt posted above on Facebook Marketplace.
The Better Business Bureau is speaking out and says doing some homework can ensure your money goes to the right place.
The BBB's Melanie McGovern says the first thing to do is look for contact information. "If it's a charity, how long has the charity been operating? Are they established in the area? Are they an individual who is fundraising, for a charity or for the 514 Victims Fund, things like that," says McGovern. She says sites like GoFundMe can easily be spoofed. "They can be set up, you know in somebody's name, pictures can be taken off the internet," she warns.
McGovern says there's one other thing to watch out for: over donating. "If another entity is taking care of say, like funeral expenses, and you're donating to somebody who says they're covering funeral expenses, you want to make sure that you are donating to the right source," says McGovern. Once again, she notes sites can easily be spoofed to trick well-intentioned donors. McGovern adds legitimate charities will give you plenty of time to make that decision.
One big scam McGovern has noted is the "Choose Love" shirts the Bills are selling on their site. She says scammers are already at work. "It's going to be spoofed, it's going to be counterfeited. So if you buy that item from the seller, say on Facebook marketplace, or Craigslist, or eBay, that money that you're giving for that shirt isn't going to go to the charity, it's going to go to the seller" warns McGovern. She says resellers might not have the best intentions, instead trying to capitalize on a situation.
In fact, McGovern says she came upon a suspected scam site Monday. "It looks like it was hastily put together. A lot of capitalizations where there shouldn't be capitalizations in the description of the person who is the alleged seller has a brand new Facebook page that started in 2022," adds McGovern.
McGovern says if you suspect a fraudulent offer, report it to Facebook. "They do have protections in place, especially when people's accounts are spoofed," says McGovern. You can also report it to bbb.org/ScamTracker.