3OYS scam alert: Fake charities for tragedy

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- Just days after we lost 19 firefighters in the Yarnell Hills Fire, 3 On Your Side has learned that fraudulent websites have already made their way on to the internet.

The latest scam has to do with T-shirt sales.  The United Phoenix Fire Fighter's Association wants to make it clear, they or their affiliated oraganizations, are NOT selling T-shirts.

Here's a word of warning if you plan on donating any money.

"Unfortunately, whenever you have a tragedy like this, whether it be one or multiples, there are some bad guys that come out," says Phoenix Fire Captain Rich Bauer.

Bauer says scammers are bound to take the Yarnell fire tragedy, and exploit it.

"These people, they're like gypsies and they move all over the country. By the time we find out about them, they're gone," says Bauer.

Bauer isn't the only one cautioning against these con artists. Felicia Thompson, with the Phoenix Better Business Bureau, agrees that some unscrupulous people will use the death of the 19 firefighters to take your money.

"We don't want to say the message of tragedy brings out scammers, but it's true," says Thompson.

If you're considering giving financially to help those affected by the Yarnell fire, keep a few things in mind.

First, give it some thought. In other words, take the time to check out the charity to avoid wasting your generosity by donating to a questionable organization.

Be sure to warn others. Tell family and friends its okay to donate if they want, just make sure the recipient is legit.

Also question social media. That fancy Facebook page may look like the real deal, but is it?

"In social media, I think it just brings a new level to scammers," says Thompson. "The opportunities exist to really tug at our heartstrings, show the photos of the victims, tell their story and pretend to be people they're not," says Thompson.

Beware of email solicitations. They're often just an avenue to get into your wallet.

Bauer says the same thing goes for telephone calls. He says if you do get a phone call, it's not legitimate.

And get this: scammers will use a scare tactic.

For example, they like to call senior citizens asking to donate. If the person says no, the caller will intimidate them by saying emergency crews won't respond to your house if there's a fire.

Don't believe it, and don't be fooled.

For information about how to make a legitimate donation to the fallen fire fighters and families visit the following links: