Experts warn of natural disaster scammers after Hurricane Fiona

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – After seeing what the residents of Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands are going through, many wonder how to help.

But before you start donating, the Better Business Bureau asks you to be cautious. 

“While there are reputable companies out there that do documentation,” said Josh Planos, spokesman for BBB, “Unfortunately, there are a lot of folks out there who aren’t legitimate.”

Planos said many people take advantage of the less fortunate to make a quick buck.

The BBB shared some tips that might help:

  • See if the charity has an on-the-ground presence.
  • Give to experienced groups.
  • Give money rather than goods.
  • Look for charities that are clear about how they spend donated money.

A Puerto Rican community leader and founder of the organization Ayúdanos a Ayudar, meaning “Help us, Help others,” suggested looking into social media and learning more about these groups.

“The most important thing is to know the work of the people that you are donating to,” Luis Daniel Rosario said. “And be careful, because so many times, people with big names don’t have the better intentions.” 

Rosario said his organization documents how the donated money and supplies are being distributed. 

Since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, local grassroots organizations are usually the first ones to help natural disaster victims there. 

“We are just the bridge, many times, from those who want to make sure that their donations, that the supplies that they send gets to the people that need it,” said Victor Amauri, spokesman for the organization Brigada Solidaria del Oeste. 

The BBB also has a tool on its website to help you learn more about organizations that you want to donate to.  

Planos said people who are aware of scammers should notify the BBB to help others.

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