Connecticut Attorney General's Office

Press Release

Attorney General Urges Consumers To Beware Of Haitian Relief Scams

January 14, 2010

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal today urged consumers to be on the lookout for Haitian relief scams in the wake of the earthquake this week that devastated the island nation.

"I urge Connecticut residents to open their hearts and wallets to victims of the devastating Haitian earthquake, but to ensure donations are to legitimate charities," Blumenthal said. "Recent reports should make contributors aware and wary: Give to established, reputable organizations with proven records of providing effective aid. Avoid Internet groups whose legitimacy cannot be verified. Beware of unrealistic promises.

"In the wake of every catastrophe -- and again now -- con artists seeking to exploit compassion and caring are on the prowl. I strongly encourage people to give, but also to ask questions and demand answers.

"Consumers encountering suspected scams should contact my office's consumer protection unit at (860) 808-5420 or our charities unit at (860) 808-5020. I will vigorously and aggressively prosecute any individuals or groups that steal donations for the victims of this tragedy."

Blumenthal urged donors to:

  • Be skeptical of internet third party recommendations, such as bloggers you don't know or websites;
  • Be cautious about giving on line;
  • Beware of newly created organizations. Numerous scam aid groups appeared overnight after the 2004 Asian Tsunami;
  • Ask whether the charity has an on-the-ground presence in Haiti. Donations to groups already there are likely to reach victims sooner;
  • Ask whether the charity provides direct aid or is raising money for others. Fundraisers have to be paid and may keep a disproportionate part of your donation;
  • Inquire whether groups have disaster relief experience. Try to give to groups that have such experience;
  • Avoid giving clothing, medicine or other goods unless you are sure the group has the resources to transport the donations to victims.

The American Institute of Philanthropy's website has a list of top rated charities accepting Haitian relief donations.