FBI Warns About California Fire Scams

The FBI is warning people to watch out for scam artists trying to get money out of people after the recent wildfires in Southern California.

Here is the official release from the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Recent tragic incidents such as 9/11, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Virginia Tech shootings, and the collapse of the Minneapolis bridge, have all prompted individuals with criminal intent to solicit for contributions for a charitable organization and/or a good cause. Given the recent wildfires in Southern California, consumers should be cautious before contributing to an unknown or unfamiliar charity. The following should be considered before contributing to an unknown or unfamiliar charity:

Do not respond to unsolicited (SPAM) e-mail.

Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting via e-mail for donations.

Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.

Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.

To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to recognized organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.

Validate the legitimacy of the organization by directly accessing the recognized charity or aid organization’s website rather than following an alleged link to the site.

Attempt to verify the legitimacy of the non-profit status of the organization by using various Internet-based resources, which also may assist in confirming the actual existence of the organization.

Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions; providing such information may compromise your identity and open you to identify theft.

Keith Slotter, Special Agent in Charge of the San Diego, FBI Office stated, “The FBI is committed to protecting the public from disaster related fraud schemes and those who prey on the public’s goodwill. We will aggressively investigate and seek the prosecution of those individuals involved in defrauding the public as well as those filing false claims against the government.”

More information concerning potential scams is available on www.fbi.gov.

To report a complaint please call (800) CALL FBI (225-5324). To report a complaint through the Internet, please go to www.ic3.gov. You may also call the San Diego FBI Office at (858) 565-1255.

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