Cruel scammers cash in on Orlando shootings

Experts warn that scammers are targeting people who want to help

Updated: 
Nightclub Shooting Florida

When a gunman opened fire in a gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 people and injuring 53, the world responded with shock and outrage, but also with a desire to do anything they could to help the victims and their families. The response has restored some people's faith in human nature, but now scammers are doing what they can to erode that faith again.

In the wake of the attack, a number have used it in order to scam money from people. These have included some made up charities touting for donations, and some online fundraising sites not linked to the victims.

The IRS in the US has warned that: "It is common for scam artists to take advantage of this generosity by impersonating charities to get money or private information from well-meaning taxpayers. Such fraudulent schemes may involve contact by telephone, social media, e-mail or in-person solicitations."

If you want to donate, they recommend researching the name of the organisation, to check it is legitimate. Beware of fake charities set up with very similar names to real ones - so check it very closely.

KnowBe4 scambusters recommend making a donation to a charity you already know well in memory of the victims.

If you want to donate direct to those affected by the charity, there are more than 100 GoFundMe pages set up purporting to raise money for the families of the victims. Some of them are definitely legitimate, including the one set up by Equality Florida, which has attracted almost $6 million - including from GoFundMe, which has donated the equivalent of its usual fees.

However, the Florida Attorney General has warned that the sheer number of pages raises concerns that not all of them are genuine. It is currently investigating them to identify any it has concerns about, and GoFundMe has pledged not to release any funds to people claiming to be raising money for victims until they prove they are connected to the victim themselves. However, they also recommend you check out a campaign carefully before donating.

The scammers are risking putting people off donating entirely, but the fundraising organisations urge people not to let the scammers win. Instead, they recommend you keep demonstrating the best of human nature, but take precautions to ensure you stay safe in the process.


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Victims of scams and fraud

Victims of scams and fraud