It takes a special kind of low person to take advantage of people's sadness after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, but unfortunately tragedy always brings out the scammers. They came out on 9/11. They came out during Hurricane Sandy. And they're coming out after Sandy Hook. The sad truth is that some people are just so disturbed and desperate for attention and/or money, they will make up stories and scam people who have big hearts and want to help. This is human nature at its worst, folks.
A woman named Nouel Alba has been arrested after allegedly posing as an aunt of one of the little Sandy Hook victims, Noah Pozner, and trying to get money out of people on Facebook.
Alba, who lives in the Bronx, set up a Facebook account under the name Victorian Glam Fairys just hours after the massacre, and announced that her nephew, Noah, had been killed. She claimed she had given photos to the cops to help identify his body and met with President Obama.
Minutes later, she began the appeal for cash. "We’ve set up a funeral fund for my brother and families," she posted, giving out PayPal and bank account information.
Apparently some people then reached out to "Victorian" and set up their own funds for the families. Some of them began contacting her regularly, and she would text them tales about Obama's speech, and seeing her nephew "in a casket."
Anderson Cooper, in a segment on Sandy Hook scams, contacted her. This is when she claimed she refunded donations to the people who'd given her money. When the FBI contacted her, she tried to claim someone had "hacked into" her Facebook account. She was eventually arrested.
I know when tragedies happen, a lot of people want to help. Scamsters take advantage of this very thing. Do not EVER donate money to an individual you don't know whom you hear about on Facebook or a website. (There was also a fake NoahPozner website soliciting donations.) I don't care if your friend's aunt's cousin says it's legitimate. If you want to help, give donations to well-established organizations like the Red Cross or AmeriCares or call a local church in the town where the tragedy happened and ask what is the best way to help.
Do NOT give to the mother/sister/friend of someone who is involved in a tragedy, unless you TRULY know this person, in REAL life. Otherwise, but there's just no guarantee the money will get there or even if that person is for real.
Do you do your research before donating?
Image via Mike Traboe/Flickr