ATTORNEY GENERAL RAOUL CAUTIONS THE PUBLIC TO BE VIGILANT FOR POTENTIAL SCAMS RELATED TO VICTIMS OF GUN VIOLENCE
Chicago — Attorney General Kwame Raoul today encouraged Illinois residents to be alert for scams that involve supporting the victims of the July 4 mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois and gun violence in other parts of the state.
The Attorney Generalís office is urging vigilance following reports that survivors of the July 4 mass shooting have been contacted by potential scammers who provide inaccurate and incomplete information about state assistance available to crime victims. Raoulís office administers the Crime Victim Compensation Program, which provides financial reimbursement to eligible victims of violent crimes in Illinois. Attorney General Raoul is also encouraging Illinois residents to exercise caution before donating to organizations purporting to support victims of the mass shooting or violent crime.
ďAs victims of a violent crime Ė including those affected by the horrific shooting in Highland Park Ė attempt to recover from trauma, they should not have to sort through misinformation or potential scams relating to programs that may provide assistance in a time of need,Ē Raoul said. ďI am reminding all Illinois residents to exercise caution, and utilize free information and resources available through the Attorney Generalís office to avoid being defrauded by those seeking to take advantage of the gun violence plaguing too many of our communities.Ē
Raoulís Crime Victim Services Division has been contacted by a number of family members and friends of victims injured during the mass shooting in Highland Park. Those individuals reported receiving anonymous calls from people offering to assist victims with applications for aid through the Crime Victims Compensation Program. Many of the callers misrepresent the programís eligibility requirements and covered expenses. Attorney General Raoul is urging individuals who receive calls regarding the Crime Victims Compensation Program to verify the call is from the Illinois Attorney Generalís office, and if uncomfortable speaking over the phone, to request an in-person appointment. Raoul also encourages applicants to be aware that Illinois law prohibits individuals from charging applicants a fee for assistance in filing an application. In addition, state law limits reimbursement to statutorily-determined expenses.
The Crime Victims Compensation Program provides financial reimbursement to victims of violent crime who meet certain requirements. Eligible expenses under the program include costs associated with funeral and burial, lost wages, counseling and medical, hospital and dental costs, to name a few. Applications can be found online. To obtain additional information or to report a suspicious contact regarding the program, please call the Attorney Generalís Crime Victims Assistance Line at 800-228-3368 or visit the Attorney Generalís website.
Attorney General Raoul is also encouraging Illinois residents to research organizations prior to making donations to support victims of the Highland Park shooting or other victims of gun violence. Under Illinois law, fundraisers and charitable organizations are required to register each year with the Attorney Generalís office. To assist potential donors in making wise giving decisions, important information, such as charitable organizationsí incomes, expenditures and programs, is available for free on the Attorney Generalís website.
People should also consider the following tips to best ensure a donation will be used for its intended purpose:
- Ask how much of your donation will go to the charity and how much will be used to pay fund-raising costs. Solicitors must give you this information if you ask.
- Pay close attention to the name of the charity. Some fraudulent charities use names that sound or look like those of legitimate organizations to mislead you.
- Ask questions about the charity. Donate only when your questions have been answered and you are certain your money will be used according to your wishes. Ask whether the charity is registered with the Illinois Attorney Generalís office and what percentage of the money taken in goes to fundraising, administration and charitable programming.
- Exercise caution when giving online. Spam email solicitations that appear to be linked to individuals collecting for families affected could be coming from persons wishing to take advantage of those wishing help. Be wary of any online solicitations from unfamiliar persons or charities.
- Do not pay in cash. For security and tax record purposes, pay by check. Be sure to write the full official name of the charity on your checkódo not abbreviate.
- Request written information. A legitimate charity will provide information outlining its mission, how your donation will be distributed, and proof that your contribution is tax deductible.
- Do not donate if the solicitor uses high-pressure tactics, asks for cash payment or insists on sending someone to pick up your donation. These are all hallmarks of a scam.
Donors should contact the Attorney Generalís Charitable Trust Bureau to report suspicious solicitations by calling 312-814-2595. The Attorney General recommends that, whenever possible, keep notes detailing the date and time of the call, the organizationís name, the name of the solicitor, and the ďpitchĒ or any other pertinent information.
Raoulís Crime Victim Services Division administers a host of programs and services to assist victims meet the challenges that often result from a violent crime and to help them recover from trauma and rebuild their lives. Additional information about the divisionís programs and resources can be found on the Attorney Generalís website.