ORLANDO, Fla. – It’s unfortunate but when tragedies like the one at Pulse nightclub occur, you actually have people who will try and cash in.
And make no mistake if you do, officials say, you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
There are dozens and dozens of GoFundMe pages for victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre.
People from all over the world are donating money to their accounts, from $5 to over $1,000 and leaving heartfelt messages to get well soon.
But with so many online fundraisers for Pulse victims, how can you be sure which ones are legitimate?
The FBI says do your due diligence before giving money to anyone soliciting donations on behalf of Pulse victims.
In fact before making a contribution, the FBI recommends you:
• Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming emails, including by clicking links contained within those messages, because they may contain computer viruses.
• Be cautious of individuals representing themselves as victims or officials asking for donations via email or social networking sites.
• Beware of organizations with copycat names similar to but not exactly the same as those of reputable charities.
• Rather than following a purported link to a website, verify the existence and legitimacy of nonprofit organizations by using internet-based resources.
• To ensure that contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make donations directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
• Do not be pressured into making contributions; reputable charities do not use coercive tactics.
• Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions. Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
• Avoid cash donations if possible. Pay by debit or credit card or write a check directly to the charity. Do not make checks payable to individuals.
• Legitimate charities do not normally solicit donations via money transfer services.
• Most legitimate charities maintain websites ending in .org rather than .com
We are also hearing word that several people are claiming to be Pulse victims but were not even at the club that night.
The FBI says if you know someone who is doing this to contact authorities immediately.
"The FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office are committed to investigating and prosecuting any and all fraud associated with the Pulse tragedy,” Special Agent Amy B. Pittman said.
Anyone who feels they have been a victim of fraud related to the pulse nightclub shooting or should contact their local FBI office or the FBI victim assistance program at 1-866-432-4682 or email inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.