As if people needed one more thing to be worried about over the Ebola virus.
The Better Business Bureau is warning that scam artists posing as fundraisers and charities to help Ebola victims are surfacing on major websites.
A GoFundMe page created Wednesday was soliciting donations for Amber Joy Vinson, the 29-year-old nurse from Dallas who is currently being treated for the deadly virus. But according to the agency, Vinson’s family said they could not verify the effort and the money could be making its way to the wrong people.
BBB has since shut down the page in Vinson’s name, but there still remains more than 100 GoFundMe efforts to raise money for Ebola campaigns, the agency released this week.
Several chapters have also reported telephone scams with callers who posed as well-known charitable organizations. In New York, one phone solicitation claimed to be raising money for a famous charity’s chapter in the Bronx. The agency later confirmed there was no such branch and the calls could be phony.
Such bogus fundraising efforts are nothing new in light of disasters. Last year, a New York woman was sentenced to eight months in prison after she scammed donors by falsely claiming that she was a relative to one of the children killed in the 2012 elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn. After Hurricane Sandy, officials warned that elderly people could become vulnerable to donating money to fake relief causes. And after an earthquake destroyed parts of Haiti in 2010, spam emails made donors believe they were raising money for the British Red Cross.
The rise in scams comes after the first Ebola victim diagnosed on U.S. soil, Thomas Eric Duncan, succumbed to the virus last week. Duncan’s family held a memorial service in North Carolina to celebrate the 42-year-old’s life at the church where his sister, mother and nephew worship, NBC affiliate WCNC reports.