By Chief Steven J. Wojnar
Dudley Police Department
Tragic events, such as what occurred at the Boston Marathon, often result in large donations to victims. Unfortunately, some people use these opportunities to prey on the generosity of others and conduct a variety of “scams.” Recently, Attorney General Martha Coakley provided some valuable information on this topic. I wanted to provide this to the readers for your consideration.
Attorney General Martha Coakley “reminded those who want to give to support victims of the Boston Marathon attacks to do their homework first to ensure the charity is reputable. More than 125 website domain names relating to the Boston Marathon explosions were registered within a few hours of the attacks Monday, according to Consumer Affairs Undersecretary Barbra Anthony. Fraudulent websites have popped up in the aftermath of other national tragedies, including the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown. Coakley warned would-be donors to protect themselves from fundraising scams by making sure any websites they visit match a registered charity and to beware of professional fundraisers who try to make their solicitations sound like they are coming directly from the charity itself or volunteers. Coakley's office offered a handful of tips, including getting to know the charity by taking time to verify the address, phone number, and contact information and reviewing the website and written material. When possible, consider the charity's history. Be wary of appeals that are "long on emotion," according to Coakley's office. A legitimate charity will tell donors how it's using the money after a disaster. Do not pay cash and never give a credit card number to a fundraiser over the phone. Websites like Charitynavigator.org and BBB.org/charity help donors get additional information on a particular charity.”
The important thing to remember is do not conduct business transactions unless you are sure of the people and places you are dealing with. At this time, the main donation organization established through the Commonwealth is the “One Boston Fund.” It can be found at onebostonfund.org. Please take the time to protect yourself and insure your donation is going toward its intended purpose.
Our thoughts and sympathies go out to all the victims (including those killed and their families), participants, spectators, and thousands of others impacted by the tragic events last week in Boston. This includes the family of MIT Officer Sean Collier, who was killed Thursday, and MBTA Officer Richard Donohue who was severely wounded. Special thanks, prayers, and our best wishes go out to the Boston Police, Fire, EMS and all the first responders (including the many extraordinary citizens) for their bravery and efforts during the marathon and in the subsequent investigation. All the law enforcement agencies, including local, federal, and state, worked together to bring the search for the suspects to a conclusion (including the successful capture of the second person). Although to some it may appear to be over, we realize the investigation continues and the work of prosecuting this person has just begun. Continue to keep everyone in your thoughts and remain vigilant in your daily lives.