Okla. AG Warns of Possible Tsunami Donor Scams

January 5, 2005

Attorney General Drew Edmondson is urging Oklahomans who wish to aid victims of the Dec. 26 tsunami to give charitably but cautiously.

Edmondson said scams could keep those in need from ever receiving assistance.

“Experience has taught us that often, out of a disaster comes a slew of scams,” Edmondson said. “It’s vital to the people affected by this tragedy that we provide whatever assistance we can, but also that we ensure the assistance we provide actually goes to the people whose survival may depend on it.”

According to Edmondson, the state’s Consumer Protection Unit (CPU) received complaints about fraud in the months following the May 3, 1999, tornados. The CPU also received complaints after the Murrah Building bombing and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“The tsunami has left more than 120,000 dead and countless more have lost everything they had,” Edmondson said. “To these people, every meal, every dollar is a blessing. Give whatever you can, because no gift is too small. Every donation is important.”

Edmondson said consumers should be particularly wary of solicitations over the telephone.

“It is easy for a scam artist to make a few phone calls and collect bank account information from people who are eager to help,” Edmondson said. “If you didn’t initiate the phone call, you should never give out your financial information.”

Edmondson said residents can also contact the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Unit at (405) 521-2029 to find out if the office has received complaints on a particular charity. Oklahomans can also call the CPU to report suspicious solicitations.

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