NEWTOWN, CONN (PIX11) – A scammer had set up a fake fundraising site in the name of 6-year-old Newtown massacre victim Noah Pozner to start collecting money, but only to line his own criminal pockets in the Bronx. A family friend confronted him and he gave the site over to the Pozner family, which is now legitimately accepting donations at NoahPozner.org
“Of all the despicable ways to make a buck,” lamented Elle McNeiece who was visiting from Southbury.
Howard Schwartz of the Better Business Bureau summed it up, “The scammers follow the headlines and move very quickly to try to intercept money from well meaning people people who like to help out.”
He points out that thousands of fraudulent appeals went out post-Sandy. And they can’t even estimate how much money is made on those fakes since they get reported to a variety of law enforcement agencies.
Scammers can be criminally charged by the FBI or local Attorney General, but your best protection according to the Better Business bureau is to research first.
“If you get an appeal through social media, text or website or phone you should ignore those. You should really go after a charity that can help you out by reaching out locally to officials,” says Schwartz. Another way to protect yourself, ensure any web address starts with “https” for ‘secure’ website.
But other fundraisers are legitimate. A humble basket set up by recent Newtown grads in the midst of it all has grossed $25,000 in cash in just days.
Tom Stewart from Randolph, NJ saw the Angels of Sandy Hook Elementary table set up in town, and bent over to write a $1,000 check. “I came here because I wanted to make sure I was giving a donation to the people who really needed it, the families,” said Stewart.
The “Angels” went to the state capital to register as a charity on Monday so everything would be legitimate. “First thing we want to do is send some of the students’ siblings to college,” said one of those staffing the table, David Bray, a graduate of Sandy Hook Elementary, now a college senior.