Beware of Charitable Scams During Japan Relief Effort
In wake of the earthquake and resulting tsunami that has caused widespread disaster in Japan and some areas of the United States, the Office of the Attorney General is cautioning generous Texans to carefully vet relief organizations before making any charitable contributions.|
By doing a little research, well-meaning Texans can ensure their dollars actually help the recovery effort and aid victims – rather than funding fraudulent scams set up to capitalize on a tragedy.
Texans who are solicited for charitable contributions to relief efforts by telephone, text message, e-mail, mail, social networking sites or otherwise should consider the following:
Texans who wish to file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General regarding suspicious e-mail charity solicitations may call the Consumer Complaint Hotline at (800) 252-8011 or file a complaint online at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.
ABOUT CONSUMER ALERTS - The Office of the Attorney General accepts consumer complaints about businesses. When a pattern of complaints warrants intervention, the Attorney General can file a civil lawsuit under consumer protection statutes, sometimes with the result that a company is required to pay restitution to consumers -- see our Major Lawsuits page. However, when a consumer is swindled by a con artist, filing a complaint cannot help. Civil litigation can sometimes put a very unscrupulous business out of action, but often cannot produce restitution.
Individual con artists generally fall under the jurisdiction of a criminal prosecutor -- in Texas, this is the district or county attorney. But even when they are charged and convicted, these individuals usually have spent the money as fast as they have stolen it. A person who is the victim of fraud should report the incident to the police or sheriff. But by far the best thing is for consumers to be aware of fraud, so they are not swindled in the first place. For this reason, the Office of the Attorney General posts these Consumer Alerts about possible scams and schemes that come to our attention through citizen contacts to our office or other sources.