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'Tis the season for scams - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

'Tis the season for scams

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With the holiday "giving" season coming up, experts are warning to be on the look-out for charity scams. (NBC) With the holiday "giving" season coming up, experts are warning to be on the look-out for charity scams. (NBC)

We're headed into that time of year when most Americans get into a "giving" mood, but experts warn that also means there are scam artists out there getting into a "taking" mood. 

The Syrian refugee crisis in Europe is a good example. The crisis has tugged at the hearts of charitable Americans, but scam artists have also been busy.

"They are just people who are using this crisis to take advantage of people's generosity," said Art Taylor, President of the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance.

A common way they take advantage with all sorts of worthy causes is by setting up phony charities.

"There are hundreds, hundreds, maybe even thousands of organizations that have cancer in their name," Taylor said.

Cancer was the cause when four questionable charitable organizations; Cancer Fund of America, Children's Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services and the Breast Cancer Society, came under fire and federal scrutiny earlier this year.
 
"Instead of supporting patients battling with the ravages of cancer, the overwhelming majority of donations benefited the individual defendants," said the Federal Trade Commission's Jessica Rich.

The National Children's Leukemia Foundation, which still has a Facebook page, was also charged to be a fraud, but not until the operators pocketed nearly $10 million in donations sent to a basement in Brooklyn, New York.

It's why watchdogs are urging vigilance, especially as consumers head into the most charitable time of the year.

"What we really want people to do is take a few minutes and check out the charity," said Taylor.

According to Taylor there are two places to check out the legitimacy of charities... CharityNavigator.org... or at Give.org.

Related coverage:
Scam Central archives

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