People lined up in Orlando, Florida, for hours to donate blood after 49 people were killed and 53 wounded at a gay nightclub Sunday in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Some wanted to donate money instead of blood — but not all fundraisers are created equal.
Since scammers swoop in to take advantage of good Samaritans after tragedies, make sure your money is going to the right place. “We encourage those who want to show their support through donations to do so with caution,” Holly Salmons, the president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Central Florida, said in a press release. “Scammers depend on heightened emotion and often follow closely behind tragic events.”
GoFundMe can be tricky, since there’s no real way to tell if the money is going to the right spot. But this one, which was set up by Equality Florida Action Inc., a nonprofit advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the Sunshine State, seems to be authentic. It has a goal of $7 million and has raised nearly $5 million at this writing.
Make sure you go to the right page, though. There have been 150 campaigns set up for Orlando victims through GoFundMe. “We encourage individuals to donate only to campaigns they trust,” spokesman Bobby Whithorne said in an email.
If a fundraiser seems suspicious, alert GoFundMe. They have work “around the clock” to dismantle phony campaigns that were started after the deadly Orlando shooting, KCPQ in Seattle reports. “We have vetted and are in communication with the campaign organizers to ensure they are communicating clearly to the donors about how the funds will be used,” Whithorne said. He endorsed the page created by Equality Florida.
It’s best to stay away from Twitter pages claiming to be fundraisers. The social media site has suspended at least one account that claimed to belong to Pulse, the nightclub where the massacre happened.
Some scammers created GoFundMe accounts for themselves, claiming they were victims at the nightclub. “When I looked it up, I immediately felt disgusted," one donor told the San Bernardino Sun of California Tuesday. “How could someone use such a tragic event only a few hours later, to get money from people?”
Another reliable fundraiser can be checked out here. It's through the City of Orlando.
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