There are some sick people in America. They see tragedy like the Boston Marathon bombings not as a chance to step in and help, but as a time to take advantage of people's good hearts. And so we have a host of scams and fake charities, all ways to bilk Americans who want to help the people of Boston out of their hard-earned money.
Is that you? Do you want to help? We have good news for you.
There are legitimate charities to aid the victims of Monday's cowardly act of terror at the finish line of the nation's most historic race. We've got them here. We've also got a list of scams that you should avoid (and report!).
Who to Avoid:
1. Twitter accounts: At least one account, since shut down by the social media site, was promising to donate $1 for every RT. Sounds easy, doesn't it? It's too easy -- RTs do nothing to actually put money in the pockets of the victims.
2. Emails containing video links: Several hackers have tried to lure in looky-loos by sending out emails purporting to link you to video of the bombing. Click, and you'll load your computer with malware.
3. Domains on this list: In just hours after the bombing, some 125 domains were registered with names related to the tragedy. Several show an intention to provide relief, but have yet to be registered with any official tragedy. Although some may still be used by trustworthy organization, it's wise to be wary of anything purchased so quickly. Before proceeding with any website, check with sites that evaluate nonprofits like CharityNavigator.org, CharityWatch.org, GuideStar.org, and FoundationCenter.org. They can tell you if the sites are on the up and up. You can also check with your state's attorney general's office and the Better Business Bureau.
4. Pleas from "relatives": At least one person has been spotted on Craigslist begging for money to help fund a trip to Boston to take care of a victim in the bombing. When a Colorado TV station met with him, they couldn't get a straight answer out of him.
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Who to Trust:
1. The One Fund Boston: Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino have both named this fund as a legitimate place to send money. Opened with a donation committment of $1 million from John Hancock (business sponsor of the marathon itself), The One Fund Boston is being taken through the process to get 501(c)(3) status by Goodwin Procter, a well-respected Boston Law firm.
2. Boston First Responders Fund: The Boston Fire Fighters Credit Union, a 65-year-old financial institution in Boston that serves mainly employees and retirees of the Boston Fire Department and members of Boston unions, is collecting money which will be disseminated to the victims.
3. Technology Underwriting Greater Good (TUGG): Folks in Boston’s tech, investing, and entrepreneurial sectors have put together a fund-raising campaign validated by the Boston Globe. The campaign at Fundraise.com has already directed a portion of the funds raised to The One Fund Boston, and all monies are earmarked for victims and relief efforts. TUGG and Fundraise.com are donating 100 percent of their fees to ensure money truly goes to help.
4. Help Jeffrey Bauman: A photo of a man in a wheelchair with his legs severed, being pushed by a heroic volunteer in a cowboy hat, has gone viral. That man is Jeffrey Bauman Jr., and a fund has been established to help cover his care.
5. Help Celeste and Sydney Corcoran: High school senior Sydney and mother Celeste both were severely injured in the explosion -- mom lost both her legs. You've probably seen Sydney -- she is the girl lying in a gut-wrenching photo with a man in a red shirt leaning over her, comforting her. The fund established to help them has been validated by their local newspaper, the Lowell Sun.
7. New England Patriots: The Kraft family, owners of the Boston-area football team, is matching donations dollar for dollar up to $100,000. Your donation can count twice with this effort.
8. Vince Wilfork Foundation: The Patriots player typically raises money for diabetes causes, but this month he's suspended that in favor of fundraising for victims. The player himself is matching donations up to $10,000, and all donations this month go to the victims.
9. Help Martin Richard's Family: Although a Google Doc built by a neighbor of the 8-year-old boy who died in the bombing has been made private, a local bank has stepped up to give people a place to donate to the family.
10. Bruins Raffle: Boston Bruins' winger Brad Marchand is raffling off his private suite for the NHL team's home playoff game, plus a meet and greet with him. The proceeds of the raffle will benefit the family of Martin Richard. A photo of the little boy killed in the bombing that was released by his family shows him sporting his Bruins fan gear at a game.
Have you noticed any suspicous charities out there? What are you doing to support the folks in Boston?
Image via Mark Z./Flickr