AG King warns against possible tsunami scams

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 6, 2005

As the death toll continues to rise in Asia in the aftermath of the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami, international relief groups are reporting an overwhelming amount of support from American citizens.

According to the Associated Press, U.S.-based relief groups have received more than $200 million in donations as of Tuesday, including some high-profile celebrity donations from the likes actress Sandra Bullock and director Steven Spielberg.

Alabama Attorney General Troy King had plenty of praise Wednesday for Alabamians who have made financial contributions to the tsunami disaster, but he warned citizens to be cautious of scams.

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“Alabamians are a compassionate and generous people. As always, they are rising to the occasion in this time of tragedy and need,” King said in a statement. “Sadly, time such as these also attract those who will scam and scheme to steal these funds. Our people should give. They should be compassionate. But they should also be cautious. Any dollar they allow to be stolen is a dollar diverted from its destination, it is relief that will not arrive, and it is pain that will not be alleviated.”

King suggested that contributors make sure they are dealing with charitable organizations they are familiar with and have histories that can easily be verified.

He added that reputable and established relief organizations, including the American Red Cross, are more likely to be equipped to assist the tsunami victims.

King said donors should not give cash to an organization, and instead should only contribute by check or money order.

He also said citizens should be wary of telephone or Internet solicitations.

“Absolutely do not give solicitors any of your personal financial information such as credit card numbers or checking account numbers,” King said.

The attorney general also said citizens should be wary of high-pressure appeals, especially those attempting to hurry you into making a contribution.