CARSON CITY, Nev. (KOLO) - Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt is warning Nevadans of scammers forming sham charities and seeking donations in the wake of Sunday’s attack in Las Vegas. As a result of the outpouring of monetary support, Laxalt and GoFundMe are working to ensure donations meant to help victims of the shooting are actually going to those who need it and not to scammers.
“I warn individuals attempting to donate in the wake of Sunday’s tragedy that there are many illegitimate GoFundMe accounts and sham charities unimaginably trying to profit from this horrific tragedy,” said Attorney General Laxalt. Many are aware of the highly successful GoFundMe account by Sheriff Lombardo and Commissioner Sisolak, among others that are legitimate and valid. I urge Nevadans to visit gofundme.com/helplasvegas to ensure each and every donation benefits our survivors and families of innocent victims. My office is working with the crowdsourcing platform to ensure donors’ generosity and good will are not capitalized upon by scammers.”
Laxalt says his office has been working directly with the crowdsourcing platform to ensure that new accounts set up through GoFundMe are used to assist victims and survivors of the shooting. If a donor has a question or wants to know more about a campaign before making a donation, the donor can reach out to GoFundMe or the campaign organizer directly through the GoFundMe page.
If a donor does not receive a response from the campaign organizer, or if the response raises concerns, donors may report the campaign directly to GoFundMe by clicking “Report Campaign” on the GoFundMe campaign page, or report concerns directly to the Office of the Nevada Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection at (702) 486-3420 or (775) 684-1100.
To best ensure your donation benefits the victims and families of the Las Vegas shooting, no matter the platform you choose to use, the Office of the Nevada Attorney General offers the following suggestions:
• Avoid any charity or fundraiser that asks for donations in cash or via wire transfer. Those that are unable to provide detailed information about their mission or organization and how donations will be used are suspect.
• Ask for detailed information about the charity, including name, address and telephone number. Then, conduct some online searches of the charity’s name in combination with the words “complaint” or “scam” to learn about its reputation. Using online resources offered by the Better Business Bureau can also provide assurances about the trustworthiness of any particular charity.
• Review the charity’s financial information or its Form 990. For information on the Form 990, visit the Nevada Secretary of State website. If a charity claims to use your donations to help the local community, contact the local agency and confirm whether the agency is familiar with the charity and receives financial support from it.
• Do not feel pressured into making an immediate donation by telephone or in person. The need for donations and the opportunity to give will be present for some time, and legitimate charities will not pressure you into making an immediate donation.
• Avoiding making checks payable to individuals. Also, avoid providing credit card, bank account or social security number information over the phone.
• When texting to donate, confirm the number with the source before you donate. The charge will show up on your mobile phone bill, but donations charges are not immediate.
• Be cautious of unsolicited charitable e-mails and attachments. An unsolicited e-mail is likely part of a scam, and any attachments may have a virus designed to steal financial or other personal information from your computer.
• Social media sites can also perpetuate scams. As with any other charity, take time to investigate the people behind any social media campaigns to ensure they represent a legitimate organization. Some sites, such as GoFundMe, take affirmative steps to ensure fundraising campaigns are vetted, donations are verified and complaints can be made to protect donors.
• Be wary of sound-alike names. Many sham charities intentionally use names that are easily confused with legitimate, respected charities.
Nevada consumers can file complaints regarding fraudulent charities with the Nevada Attorney General’s office. In addition, the FTC provides complaint assistance for anyone who suspects that a scammer is disguising itself as a charity.