Even as we watch and read the heartbreaking news reports of the ongoing search and recovery efforts in Maui, floods from Tropical Storm Hilary—and anticipate the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia here in Central Florida—sadly, criminals will exploit these tragedies, and those to come.
Residents in Maui’s scorched areas have endured unimaginable losses of homes, businesses, and loved ones. People are still missing and the damage is widespread. It’s easy to be drawn into efforts to raise money to help ease their suffering.
However, I join Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody in warning Floridians who may want to donate to aid organizations in the wake of these tragedies. Scam artists use disasters such as these by pretending to represent legitimate charities or even creating fake charities to solicit money online, in person, or over the phone.
It’s maddening that such connivers seek to exploit the kindness of big-hearted donors at times like this.
Here are important tips from the Attorney General’s website (www.myfloridalegal.com) to help you avoid these greedy criminals:
Victims of charity scams in Florida can re- port them to the Attorney General’s Office at 866.966.7226 or visit MyFloridaLegal.com
As we enter the peak hurricane season, prepare your homes and families to be ready for possible storms. Gather your hurricane supplies and have an escape plan, just in case and practice good crime prevention.
If you think you have become a victim of fraud, please call our non-emergency number at 386.248.1777 or call 911 in an emergency. We’re always here to help.
Stay smart and stay safe,