ATTORNEY GENERAL MADIGAN WARNS DONORS TO BE WARY OF SCAMS TIED TO RELIEF EFFORTS FOR JAPAN
Madigan Urges Illinois Contributors to Research Charities Before Donating
Chicago — Attorney General Lisa Madigan today urged Illinois residents who plan to donate to earthquake and tsunami relief efforts underway in Japan to be on the lookout for fundraising scams by con artists seeking to exploit the natural disaster for their personal profit.
“Unfortunately, it’s common to hear of fraudulent charities taking advantage of people’s generosity amidst a tragedy such as this,” Madigan said. “In the wake of this crisis, I want to urge Illinoisans donating to relief efforts to take the time to investigate before donating. Taking that extra step will help ensure your donations reach legitimate causes that will directly contribute to helping the victims of this disaster.”
Donors who are seeking to give to the Japanese relief efforts should be wary of requests for clothing, food or other in-kind donations, which may not be appropriate. Unless the charitable organization has the staff and infrastructure to distribute such aid, the donations may be more of a burden than a help. Ask the charity about their transportation and distribution plans. Be wary of those who are not experienced in disaster relief assistance.
In addition, potential donors should find out if the charity is providing direct aid or raising money for other groups. Donors may want to avoid the middleman and give directly to charities that have a presence in the region. Attorney General Madigan advised that donors may want to ask questions to determine the ultimate recipients of the donations to ensure that the organizations are equipped to effectively provide aid.
Under Illinois law, fundraisers and charitable organizations are required to register each year with the Attorney General’s Office. To assist potential donors in making wise giving decisions, Attorney General Madigan provides important information about charitable organizations such as income, expenditures and programs. This information is available at http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/charities/index.html.
Attorney General Madigan suggested the following tips to best ensure a donation will be used for its intended purpose:
Madigan encouraged donors to contact her office’s Charitable Trust Bureau to report suspicious solicitations at (312) 814-2595. The Attorney General recommended that, whenever possible, keep notes detailing the date and time of the call, the organization’s name and the name of the solicitor. Madigan also advised to try remembering the “pitch” as well as any other pertinent information.