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TMCNet:  Consumer Fraud Center Urges Caution in Responding to Solicitations for Sandy Hook and Hurricane Sandy Support Funds

[December 17, 2012]

Consumer Fraud Center Urges Caution in Responding to Solicitations for Sandy Hook and Hurricane Sandy Support Funds

SANTA MONICA, CA, Dec 17, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- The Consumer Fraud Center issued a warning to consumers to be on the lookout for fraudulent solicitations for donations and aid in the wake of the tragedies of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newton, CT and the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy.

"One of the most despicable after-effects of these national tragedies is the attempt to profit off of them by cybercriminals who send out fake solicitations for donations and aid," said James Lee, executive director of the Consumer Fraud Center. "We saw several of these scams pop up after 9/11 and criminals have gotten more brazen with emails, phishing scams and fake websites. We urge consumers to double check with news sources and law enforcement to make sure their donations are going to the right groups." Lee pointed out that cybercriminals quickly tap into the emotional aftermath of the tragedy with heartfelt appeals for aid and take advantage of the general confusion arising from a calamity as various organizations struggle to respond and cope with the aftermath of a disaster.

"When in doubt as to where to send a donation initially, we strongly recommend supporting a reputable first responder organization such as the American Red Cross and if you are making your donation online, please do so proactively by going onto their website and not by responding to an email solicitation," Lee said. "Unless you are on a specific group's mailing list, or already are following them on Facebook or Twitter, it's unlikely you would receive a general solicitation for money." In response to the Sandy Hook shooting tragedy and Hurricane Sandy, the Consumer Fraud Center recommended the following organizations: -- United Way of Western Connecticut, which has set up a fund through the Newtown Savings Bank for donations to support the victims' families (www.newtown.unwesternct.org); -- American Red Cross provides initial support including grief counseling in the case of Sandy Hook and housing and food assistance in the case of Hurricane Sandy (www.redcross.org); -- Newtown Youth & Family Services provides counseling and support to children, parents and school staff and also is helping to refer donations to other approved funds set up for specific families to offset funeral and other expenses (www.newtownyouthandfamilyservices.org); -- Newtown Memorial Fund was established to raise funds to pay for funeral expenses for families, as well as begin the process of establishing a suitable memorial (www.newtownmemorialfund.org); -- Robin Hood Relief Fund which serves as a provider of direct relief services throughout the tri-state area for Hurricane Sandy relief, as well as to redistribute funds to local community organizations providing relief to victims (www.robinhood.org).

The Consumer Fraud Center recommends that consumers unsure of a solicitation forward it directly to the organization claiming to have sent it, or to local law enforcement to verify it.

If a consumer finds they did indeed receive a scam or fake solicitation, they are urged to report it immediately to appropriate law enforcement agencies such as the Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov), a partnership between the FBI and National White Collar Crime Center, and the Consumer Fraud Center's complaint system (www.consumerfraudcenter.com).

Consumer Fraud Center The Consumer Fraud Center is dedicated to uncovering the use of legitimate online portals and shopping destinations for the sale of counterfeit and fraudulent consumer goods and products. It relies on its network of activated consumers who submit reports on counterfeit goods sold on websites to create a national database of products searchable by consumers, media and law enforcement. For more information, please visit us at www.consumerfraudcenter.com.

Contact: James Lee Media Relations Office (424) 888-0770 Email Contact SOURCE: Consumer Fraud Center http://www2.marketwire.com/mw/emailprcntct id=3F3E4C81BDF40F5D

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