**CONSUMER ALERT** CFO Jimmy Patronis: Beware of Fake Crowdfunding Campaigns in Support of Israel
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis warns Floridians of the threat of online crowdfunding scams related to the heinous terrorist attacks in Israel and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.
CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “Whenever crisis strikes around the world, you can guarantee that scam artists will come crawling out of the woodwork to try and take advantage of the kindness of others. The senseless acts of violence in Israel just a week ago have brought out the best in Floridians and Americans nationwide who want to help families in Israel. When donating online to crowdsourcing sites like GoFundMe, be sure to do your research and confirm you are giving to a legitimate charity. Floridians want their donations going to aid the people of Israel and not diverted in any way. As we saw following the Surfside condo collapse, if you donate to a fake crowdfunding campaign, you might as well kiss your money goodbye. By following a few charitable giving tips, you can ensure your generosity goes to the right place.”
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) offers the following tips when deciding to donate to a crowdfunding cause:
- Give to individuals and organizations you know personally. Charities can be vetted, but it is much harder to verify the trustworthiness of individuals who have posted a request for financial help. The safest way to donate on a crowdfunding platform is to give to someone you already know.
- Photos don’t mean a campaign is legitimate. Con artists often use pictures of victims without their permission to make donors believe the campaign is legitimate. This is especially true in the wake of a major tragedy.
- Not all crowdfunding sites have the same rules. Some platforms do a better job of reviewing projects and postings than others. Make sure you read up on the website’s rules, regulations, and procedures. For example, on one site, if a post claims to support the victims of a recent tragedy, the site holds any funds collected for victims and distributes them directly to the identified persons or families. On other sites, donors must rely on the creator of the post to follow through on any assistance they promise to give.
- Transparency is key. Vague descriptions of how donated funds will be used is a big red flag. Trustworthy charities and individuals will clearly explain the intended use of collected funds.
- Beware of emotional appeals and images. Scammers love to con people out of money by telling overly dramatic tales that elicit an emotional response. They usually pair their appeals with urgent pleas, saying they need the money right now. In addition, they may support their stories with heart wrenching images.
- Consider donating on specialized crowdfunding websites. When crowdfunding sites are dedicated to a specific kind of giving, such as medical funding or school projects, they are more likely to have experience spotting problems or scams. General crowdfunding sites may experience more challenges overseeing user activity.
In an effort to protect consumers, GoFundMe has included an FAQ on how to fundraise in response to the Hamas terror attacks on Israel and for impacted civilians in Gaza and Israel.
About CFO Jimmy Patronis
Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis is a statewide elected official and a member of Florida’s Cabinet who oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Patronis works each day to fight insurance fraud, support Florida’s firefighters, and ensure the state’s finances are stable to support economic growth in the state. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).