GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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April 19, 2013

Tragedy brings out scam artists, too

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.”

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