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Avoiding Post Hurricane Charity Scams

September 27th, 2017 by Jake Stofan

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Marie, Floridians are desperate to find ways to help the victims of the storms.

Gisela Rodriquez, a lawyer from Puerto Rico now living in Tallahassee is doing her part to help the victims of Hurricane Marie and is encouraging other to get involved, but State Officials want to make sure your generosity isn’t going to scammers.

Hurricane Maria followed Irma in pummeling Puerto Rico.

The island is in desperate need.

Tallahassee Attorney Gisela Rodriquez is originally from the U.S. territory.

Her family still lives there. She’s still unable to contact her parents.

 

“The sound of their voices is what gives me strength and power to just keep going and keep doing what I’m doing. So missing that medicine daily… it’s like you’re slowly dying,” said Rodriquez.

Gisela isn’t letting the agony bring her down.

After researching charities to find ways to help, Rodriguez found AirDrop, a group of volunteer pilots who fly donations she collects directly to Puerto Rico.

 

“Beyond thankful. I don’t think there’s a word… I don’t think there’s a word,” said Rodriquez.

Rodriquez did her homework to make sure the charity she picked is legitimate.

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says there are a number of online tools to help check a charity’s credibility.

 

“You can find out whether they’re registered, and how much of your money will actually go to the individuals they want to help versus administrative costs,” said Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Communications Director, Jennifer Meale.

The Florida Attorney General’s Office says there are also red flags that can give scammers away.

 

“Particularly in the wake of a disaster, a charity scam may pop up as a solicitation. Be weary of high pressure sales tactics or anyone who’s hesitant to provide you more information about their charity,” said the AG’s Communications Director, Whitney Ray.

Charities soliciting in Florida must register with state and file annual reports.

So far, the Attorney Generals Office says it hasn’t received any charity complaints since Maria hit. To report a charity or scammer, call 866-9NO-SCAM. To checkout the legitimacy of a charity, go to freshfromflorida.com.

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