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BBB of Northern NV: Be Wary of Nepal Earthquake Scammers

PHOTO: Scammers already are using the earthquake in Nepal as a ruse to get people to give them money, claiming to be or work for legitimate charities. Photo courtesy of usaid.gov.
PHOTO: Scammers already are using the earthquake in Nepal as a ruse to get people to give them money, claiming to be or work for legitimate charities. Photo courtesy of usaid.gov.
April 29, 2015

RENO, Nev. - Be cautious if donating money to any organization claiming to be helping earthquake victims in Nepal.

Caution is the message from Better Business Bureau of Northern Nevada president Tim Johnston, who said major disasters, such as the Nepal quake that has killed and injured thousands, tend to almost instantly bring out scam artists who are more than willing to collect donations under the false promise of helping those most in need.

"What we see is any time that something hits the news, and something significant as this," he said, "scam artists come out to figure out how best that they can take money away from people and kind of take advantage of the situation."

Johnston advised researching all charities on the Better Business Bureau's website give.org, which ranks organizations on 20 standards of charitable accountability. He said charitynavigator.org is another trusted site that lists and ranks nonprofit organizations.

Johnston said the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and World Vision are among more than 30 organizations approved by give.org that are collecting donations for Nepal earthquake victims. If you're donating money to a charity that is not on give.org, he said, it's best to deal with that group directly rather than through a fundraiser.

"Go directly to the organization, their website," he said. "Call them directly with information that you've obtained, so that you know that you're dealing directly with them, and that you're going to be better served than possibly being directed through something where your money may never get to the end source."

Another big downside to charity fraud, Johnston said, is that it can stop otherwise generous individuals from donating to worthy causes in the future.

The BBB has earthquake donation tips online at bbb.org.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NV