Hurricane fraud scammers use fundraising donations, used cars

Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 8:42 PM CDT
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QUINCY (WGEM) - People are taking advantage of misfortune from hurricane Ian and trying to make a profit.

The two scams that are popular right now are starting fundraisers and selling flooded cars.

The Quincy Police Department said not to trust every hurricane relief fundraiser you see.

Some people or businesses will set up hurricane relief donations, but will end up keeping the money for themselves, a common scam that is seen on the internet or social media.

“You don’t know where that money is getting filtered to, so you really have to do your own vetting and kind of see if this is a legitimate source that they’re going to get the money and it’s going to go to the people that actually need it,” said QPD Deputy Chief of Operations Michael Tyler.

FBI Springfield offered some tips to people who are considering donating to a charity.

  • Do some research when it comes to donations. Read over the reviews, state regulators of charities and charity reports and ratings on the Better Business Bureau.
  • Give to establishes charities or groups whose work you know and trust.
  • Never make donations by gift cards or wire transfer. Credit cards are safer.
  • After donating, review your financial accounts to ensure additional funds are not deducted or charged.
  • Don’t believe your caller ID. Scammers often spoof agency phone numbers. It is always best to research the organization’s telephone number and call directly to verify. Do not be pressured or rushed to donate. If so, it may be a scam.
  • Do not click on links from sources you don’t know. These could be attempts to download viruses onto your computer or cell phone. Manually type out links instead of clicking on them.
  • Be wary of charity names that sound very similar to well-known charities, as well as email addresses that are not consistent with the charity soliciting donations.
  • Check the charity’s website URL. Most legitimate charity organization websites use .org, not .com.
  • Government workers are required to carry official identification and show it if requested. Closely scrutinize any ID you see and call the agency directly to confirm a worker’s identity if you are unsure.
  • Do not give out personal information without confirming the legitimacy of the person contacting you.

Flooded cars are also hitting the market across the U.S.

Typically after hurricanes, people will try to sell their cars and cover up its past damage.

“Ask the dealership what the history is and hopefully they’re honest with you and if you don’t think they’re being honest maybe go somewhere else,” said Tyler.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau said thousands of cars get flood damage when hurricanes come through.

After people file this damage with their insurance companies, they then try to sell the damaged car.

These cars go throughout the country as car dealerships try to fix them up and some might even try to hide the damage.

Kelley Blue Book also offers tips when selling or purchasing a car that can possibly be flooded:

  • Check the trunk. Look for any signs in the interior of debris or water. Feel the carpet, seats and other areas if it feels wet and looks under the seats for stains or rust. Newly shampooed cars and rust aren’t always a good sign. Also, pay attention to the electrical components (windshield wipers and air conditioning). Make sure there aren’t odd odors.
  • Check engine and exterior. Waterlogged headlights or a visible waterline should set off an immediate red flag. Look out for any signs of debris and corrosion and wear to electrical components.
  • Check under the car. Look out for any debris, rusting and metal flaking.

To read more: Kelly Blue Book


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