MADIGAN WARNS OF SUSPECTED TORNADO RELIEF SCAM
Attorney General Urges Contributors to Research Charities Before Donating, Opens Investigation of Potential Charitable Scam Targeting Illinois Residents
Chicago – Attorney General Lisa Madigan today announced her office has opened an investigation into improper fundraising tied to relief efforts underway in Washington, Ill., and other downstate Illinois communities hit by Sunday's tornadoes and severe storms. Madigan urged Illinois residents who want to donate to the recovery efforts to be cautious in their giving.
"Unfortunately, in the wake of such devastation, we almost always receive reports of questionable fundraising efforts that try to take advantage of people wanting to help," Madigan said. "My office is investigating a complaint, and we will continue to monitor for improper fundraising efforts and possible scams connected to the disaster relief underway. I urge anyone who wants to donate to carefully research the organizations they intend to give to so they know their contribution will directly benefit the victims of Sunday's storms."
Madigan's Charitable Trust Bureau received a complaint regarding Heroes Memorial Foundation, an unregistered, out-of-state entity raising funds for victims of the weekend storms. Under Illinois law, fundraisers and charitable organizations are required to register each year with the Attorney General's office. Investigators from Madigan's office also are assisting local authorities in Washington, Ill., to monitor for consumer scams related to recovery and rebuilding efforts.
To assist potential donors in making wise giving decisions, Madigan's office provides important financial information about charitable organizations such as income, expenditures, and programs.
To best ensure that your donation will be used for its intended purpose, Attorney General Madigan suggested the following tips:
Donors may also consider giving to a specific program or purpose within a charity – for example, disaster relief. If a website has a "donate" button, see whether you can designate a specific purpose for your donation. If you cannot, contact the charity to be sure your donation will be spent for the purposes you intend.
The Attorney General's office also advised that donors should be wary of requests for clothing, food or other questionable in-kind donations. 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.
Madigan encouraged donors to report suspicious solicitations to her office's Charitable Trust Bureau by calling (312) 814-2595. Madigan recommended that, whenever possible, keep notes detailing the date and time of the call, the organization's name, and the name of the solicitor. She also suggested trying to remember the "pitch" as well as any other pertinent information.