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Watching out for charity scams

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 01:51 PM CDT
The Boston bombings, the West, Texas plant explosion, the Newtown shooting, Superstorm Sandy.
Whenever there are tragedies, you want to do something to help.

But unfortunately, it's the perfect time for scammers to try and take advantage of you.
Channel Three's Lena Deflores has what you need to know to protect yourself.

The latest tragedy that scammers are using to get your money, the Boston bombings.
Here's a look at how they do it.

Terror strikes the heart of Boston.
The Gulf Coast watches as more than 100 people are rushed to the hospital and a manhunt follows.
Then, just days  after, tragedy strikes again.

A massive explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, killing 15 people, injuring 200 more.
Again, the Gulf Coast watches, and you want to do something to help.
Unfortunately, scammers want to take advantage of your heart and your wallet.

"These people were greedy… but on top of being greedy… quite frankly they were stupid too…"

Richard White is describing con men behind a charity fraud scheme that hit 450-thousand victims across the U.S. for a whopping $10 million dollars.

 "…did you know that police officers have to buy their own bullet proof vests and if they can't afford them they just can't get them…?"

That is one of the many false claims solicitors for a bogus charity would make to persuade you and other potential donors to hand over money.

"Those lies… and their greedy practice on their part is what opened the door in this instance to a constitutionally permitted prosecution. "

Officials say their strategy was to target people who care.

"And convince them that the little they had… the little they had to give… was going to do something good and unfortunately the opposite was true."

Postal inspectors say just pennies on the dollar actually went to the charities, the rest of the money went in the pockets of the telemarketers.

"The owners of the company were living large. They had large homes, recreational vehicles, boats, water skis, and jet skis; things like that…"

Some advice, never donate money over the phone, especially if they've called you.
 Instead, ask them to send you something in the mail.

"In this case and in many of the cases the unreputable telemarketers if you ask for something in writing - you're not going to get anything."

"They can't tolerate that practice. For them to be successful they need to get the pressure sales they sell someone right then or they are on to the next one."

If you want to donate to verified charities that do benefit the victims of the Boston bombings, we have a list of them on our website for you, at weartv.com, just click on newslinks.
With your consumer alert, Lena Deflores, Channel Three News. Watching out for charity scams

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