For Immediate Release Sutherland Springs Church Shooting Donations 11/13/2017
The small community of Sutherland Springs, Texas continues to reel from a shooting at a church that left 26 people dead and over a dozen more wounded.
With such a terrible crime hitting so close to home, residents and businesses throughout the area are wanting to help the town, with a population of around 600 people, get back on its feet in any way they can, and that typically involves charitable donations.
Unfortunately, scam artists often take advantage of times like these in hopes of exploiting peoples’ emotions. It may feel good to help those in need, but if your money is going to the wrong person or organization, that good feeling is all for nothing. On its Facebook page, the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office issued a warning against a fake donation site that was set up shortly after the shooting. Investigators say the scam artist was operating in another country and bought a website with a name like the one used by First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, where the shooting occurred. The Sheriff’s Office says it is working with state and federal authorities to make sure sites like this are shut down. Investigators are also working with GoFundMe, a popular crowdfunding site, to make sure fake accounts are quickly taken down.
If you are considering donating online, Better Business Bureau urges donors to give with their head and not with their heart:
• Be especially careful after a disaster or tragedy. Scammers will strike while the emotional iron is hot. Also, in the case of the Sutherland Springs shooting, which was the subject of extensive news coverage across the country, many con artists have all the information they need to trick people into the thinking they are donating to the right place. As a result, the donating public needs to be especially on guard when reacting to headlines featuring hardship and injuries that disasters and tragedies bring.
• Never click on links to charities on unfamiliar websites or in text messages or email. These may take you to a look-alike website where you will be asked to provide personal financial information, or may download harmful malware onto your computer. Don’t assume that charity recommendations on social media have already been vetted.
• Learn all you can about a charity or an individual making the solicitation before contributing. Ask the charity for printed documentation on how much of your contribution will be used for program services and how much will go for fundraising and management expenses. If it’s an individual asking for help, ask what assurance you have that the victim or victims will receive the monies.
• Watch out for appeals that bring tears to your eyes, but tell you nothing about how your donation will be used. • Since many fake campaigns involve “borrowing” photos and creating stories around them, your first line of defense against a crowdfunding scam is a reverse image search. Cross check any photos used in the campaign, as well as any related photos you may have found on the campaign organizer’s social media pages.
First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs has set up a link on its website where charitable donations can be made. This information can be found at ssfb.net. The website also includes inks to several certified GoFundMe accounts. Also, Wilson County News posted several benefits on its website that are taking place in November and December.
Report any scams to BBB Scam Tracker and if a charitable organization is soliciting funds, check with BBB Wise Giving Alliance at give.org.