October 11, 2017
Carson City, NV – Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt continues to remove web pages and investigate reports of sham charities purportedly collecting donations on behalf of the victims following the horrific shooting in Las Vegas last week.
After receiving an alert from GoFundMe of a fraudulent donation website claiming to be affiliated with an existing campaign on the fundraising platform, Attorney General Laxalt’s Bureau of Consumer Protection successfully worked with the website’s host to remove the sham website. Last week, AG Laxalt’s office successfully removed a Facebook page after receiving complaints from local consumers.
“It’s heartwarming to witness the outpouring of support from Nevadans and individuals across the country,” said Laxalt. “Unfortunately, there are also those who would exploit this tragedy for their own financial gain. Prior to donating, I encourage all consumers to carefully check the source of these campaigns.”
For those who wish to donate through the fundraising platform GoFundMe, the website has compiled links to vetted campaigns on one web page: https://www.gofundme.com/helplasvegas. When using other fundraising platforms, the Office of the Nevada Attorney General offers the following suggestions to best ensure your donation benefits the victims and families of the Las Vegas shooting:
- 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. Consumers may also file complaints with the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Family Assistance Center located at 3150 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, Nevada, inside the Las Vegas Convention Center. In addition, the FTC provides complaint assistance for anyone who suspects that a scammer is disguising itself as a charity.