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CFO Jimmy Patronis: Be on the Lookout for Hurricane Florence Online Donation Scams

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.— In the wake of Hurricane Florence’s impact on North and South Carolina and Virginia, Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis warns Floridians to be on alert for charitable donation scams typically using reputable crowdfunding websites such as GoFundMe, RocketHub, Indiegogo, or YouCaring.
CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “Last year a New Jersey couple made headlines for raising nearly $400,000 for a homeless veteran, and now they are accused of stealing that money to fund a lavish lifestyle. Charitable donation scams are among the most disgusting. Preying on people’s emotions after a tragedy and then stealing from those who need it most, is unconscionable.
“Websites like GoFundMe have raised more than $5 billion since it first launched, with over $140 million raised each month. Most campaigns are legitimate, but Floridians should be cautious. Storms bring out the best in people but can also bring out the worst in some. Scams will show up for relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence and it’s important to do your research before donating.
“I’ve directed my office to work with the appropriate state agencies overseeing charitable donations and certain types of crowdfunding in the state, to work on long-term solutions to go after these scammers and protect your money.”
Tips to Avoid Hurricane Florence Online Donation Scams:

1. The More Information the Better. Stay away from donation campaigns that don’t provide adequate information about the relief the money will provide.
2. Ask Questions. Typically, there are ways to comment on an online donation campaign. Use that tool to ask questions about how the money will be distributed, who the money will go to, and even how much goes to directly support hurricane relief.
3. Check Social Media & Research. If a group or individual is unfamiliar to you, research and research again. Scam artists will often times create a social media page right before they launch the donation campaign, so check to see how long they have been active. Even check the image they used for their profile to see if it’s a stock image, which is a good indication the campaign is a scam. Even if the name of the group or individual sounds familiar, always do your homework.

4. Keep Records. Be sure to note exactly how much you donated, the name of the individual or group launching the donation campaign and any additional information that has been supplied. Even consider taking a screenshot of the web page.

5. Don’t Feel Pressured. Those who are running online scams typically try to pressure you to donate IMMEDIATELY.
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