Officials urge caution in giving to charities after Sandy

Many residents of Breezy Point in Queens lost their homes in fires caused by the storm.

Government and watchdog groups are warning those New Yorkers itching to help with Hurricane Sandy relief to be careful when they decide how and where to give.

The U.S. Attorney’s Eastern District of New York Office, which covers Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, told Metro they “want to give people a heads up so the public is aware that there are people out there who are going to try to pull off scams and frauds.”

These schemes can be common in the aftermath of natural disasters.

“We didn’t have a lot happening after Irene that we noticed, but there was a huge amount of activity after 9/11,” Luana Lewis at the Better Business Bureau told Metro, noting that it’s common for new organizations to be founded after major crises, “usually to address needs that folks feel aren’t being addressed swiftly enough in their community.”

The state Attorney General, the U.S. Attorney’s Eastern District Office and the Better Business Bureau all told Metro they have not yet received any complaints of attempted scams.

“We don’t know of any specifics at this point, but we hope to have compiled a list later this week,” reported Michelle Hook at the Attorney General’s Office.

Department of Justice officials warned the public to use caution in clicking links or opening images in emails that could contain viruses, and advised that “most legitimate charities maintain websites ending in .org rather than .com.”

Scambook, an online company that helps victims of fraud, also has tips for people who are compelled to help Sandy victims.

Scambook’s Miranda Perry said one key sign an organization might be a scam is if they don’t have a website or if the website is poorly constructed with improper grammar.

“Any time you’re directly solicited is one of the big red flags,” Scambook’s Director of Marketing, Kase Chong said. “If someone does contact you, the best way to tell is to hang up and call back and see if you get someone on the phone.”

Chong suggested the Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, an organization started by Governor Chris Christie’s wife, Mary Pat Christie.

“If it has ties to the government, at least you know it’s legitimate,” Chong said.

How to spot a scam

- Do your research: Scambook and the Better Business Bureau both cull information on thousands of charities. They also recommend sites like ny.give.org and charitynavigator.org.

- Avoid cash donations, and don’t give personal or financial information to individuals soliciting contributions. Pay by debit or credit card, or write a check directly to the charity.

- Ask a lot of questions. “If they can’t tell you about the organization, that’s a red flag,” Scambook’s Miranda Perry advised.

- Don’t be pressured into making quick donations: “Reputable charities do not use coercive tactics,” officials from the Department of Justice said.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

NBA

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.