Local News

Con Artists At Work After Terrorist Attacks

Posted September 14, 2001 6:49 a.m. EDT

— The horrific terrorist attacks in New York and at the Pentagon have most of us wanting to do something to help. One thing we can do is donate to charities. But as unbelievable as it may sounds, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said there is already word of con artists using the tragedy to steal your money.

Everyone justs want to help at a time like this. That is why thousands of people lined up in cars, and walked up, and even carried piggy banks, all donating money to the Relief for America Fund. The Red Cross will use the donations to help Tuesday's victims and their families.

Stephanie Alfin gladly handed over her tax refund check.

"I figure they need it much more than I do. I just felt like I had to do something," Alfin said.

But not everyone is ethical about a tragedy.

"It takes a very low person to take advantage of a national tragedy. Be careful of these solicitations that are long on emotion and short of detail. Sometimes they really try to play the heartstrings in order to steal your money," Cooper said.

According to Cooper, the worst type of con artists are already surfacing.

Quite a few people have called WRAL, questioning phone and e-mail solicitations they have received, like requests for money to benefit police and firefighters. Some may be legitimate But many are not.

Con artists make up sound-alike names of "charities" to get you to give, or they may try to make it easy for you by getting your credit card number. Before you donate, ask questions.

Find out how much of your donation actually goes to the charity, and how much goes to administrative costs. Ask them to send you written information about the charity, and then you can decide whether you want to give. And whatever you do, never give out your credit card number.

Your best bet is to give to charities with which you are familiar so you will know the help you so want to give will get to the people who need it