GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

April 19, 2013

Tragedy brings out scam artists, too

By Doug Ireland
Staff Writer

---- — When explosions rocked the finish line at the Boston Marathon Monday, people stepped up.

Police, athletes, firefighters, medical personnel and ordinary citizens put their own lives on the line to help those wounded by the bombs. And many others have stepped up since with money.

Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino announced Tuesday the creation of The One Fund Boston to raise money for the victims and their families. John Hancock insurance company immediately donated $1 million.

Residents have rallied, too, sending donations, organizing fundraisers and honoring the victims at vigils, like those held Wednesday night at both St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Lanesville and the First Congregational Church of Christ in Rockport. But the tragedy also brought out the worst in some people.

Within an hour of the attacks, dozens of website domain names related to the bombings had been registered, according to the Massachusetts attorney general’s office.

Many were legitimate, but some were not. The attorney general’s office issued a warning yesterday on how to avoid scams.

“Our office received reports just this morning that a mere four hours after the attack at the marathon, over 125 domain names were registered to collect money for the victims and several fraudulent Twitter accounts were opened, asking for money as well, Massachusetts Undersecretary of Consumer Affairs Barbara Anthony said in a statement issued Wednesday.

The attorney general’s office declined to comment further on the number of scams, but the prevalence of scams prompted others to issue warnings as well, including the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance.

Massachusetts State Police apologized on Twitter for promoting a fundraising account, @bostonmarathons, that proved to be fraudulent.

“We now know that @bostonmarathons is a scam,” state police said. “We should know better and apologize for perpetuating the exploitation of the bombing.”

For those who want to help, the attorney general’s office recommends following these tips.

Anyone contributing online should make sure it’s to a legitimate, registered charity. They can check by going to mass.gov/ago/charitiesreports or by calling (617) 727-2200, Ext. 2101. Anyone with inquiries or complaints about charitable solicitations should go to that website or call that number.

Websites such as Charitynavigator.org and BBB.org/charity are also useful in researching charities, according to the attorney general’s office, which also recommends that people ask a lot of questions when receiving donation requests from charities. Ask how much of the money goes to the charity and how much to a professional fund-raiser, the office said.

Donors should also ask who employs the telephone solicitor and if the contribution is tax deductible. Payments should be made by check and written to the charity, not the fundraiser, and never give out credit card information over the telephone, the attorney general’s office said.

How to help:

The One Fund Boston: Visit onefundboston.org or send a check to: One Fund Boston Inc., 800 Boylston St., #990009, Boston, MA, 02199.

American Red Cross: Visit redcross.org to donate money or schedule an appointment to give blood. Call 1-800-RED CROSS.

Salvation Army: To donate, visit salvationarmyusa.org.

Mass. General Hospital: Blood donations will be accepted later this month.

To donate money for the victims’ families, visit give.massgeneral.org.

Boston Children’s Hospital: To donate money for the victims’ families, visit giving.childrenshospital.org.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital: To donate money for the victims’ families, visit giving.brighamandwomens.org.

Boston First Responders Fund: The fund was established by the Boston police and fire unions. Proceeds go to the victims and their families.

Go to bostonfirecu.com or send checks to: Boston First Responders Fund, 60 Hallett St., Dorchester, MA, 02124.