North Miami Beach Police Warn Against Charity Scams Following Boston Marathon Bombing

Do not answer texts, e-mail, or social media messages claiming to be from a charity, police say.

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    North Miami Beach Police warned South Florida residents Wednesday about charity scams popping up in the wake of the recent Boston Marathon bombing.

    Several fake websites, e-mail addresses and Twitter accounts have been made asking people for donations they say will go towards helping victims.

    "Within the first 24 hours after the bombing, hundreds of domain names that relate to the Boston Marathon were bought," said Thomas Carney, the Director of Police Services in North Miami Beach. "The majority of them are going to be scams."

    Although Carney said he hasn't personally received any reports of fake charities yet, he has gotten several phone calls from people who want to donate, but are unsure which charities to trust.

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    "I think it's despicable when people use a tragedy like that to profit for themselves," Alex Annunziato said. "I think sometimes it shows that not everyone is interested in doing right by the community ."

    As a precaution, people should not respond to texts, e-mails or messages on social media, according to Carney. The majority of charities will not call or e-mail people, so donations should be made by going straight to a charity's website. A reputable website charity will identify what the funds will be used for specifically, according to police.

    Carney also warned against making cash donations, saying credit and debit cards are the best ways to contribute. Checks should be avoided to prevent scammers from accessing bank account information.

    "It's inconceivable that at a time like this when people are feeling so sorrowful about what happened that someone would want to profit from it," Elizabeth Kennedy said.

    Anyone who thinks they are being scammed should contact the local police station, the Better Business Bureau or the Florida Division of Consumer Services at www.800helpfla.com.

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