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Beware of Hurricane Irene charity scams, agencies warn

August 29, 2011|By Stuart Pfeifer, Los Angeles Times

Here is a roundup of alleged cons, frauds and schemes to watch out for:

Hurricane Irene — Law enforcement agencies predict that a wave of fraudulent charitable donation schemes will arrive in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. To make sure donations get to those who need them, the Internet Crime Complaint Center suggests that donors not respond to unsolicited emails or telephone calls seeking donations. Instead, donations should go directly to recognized charitable organizations, the agency said.

Government grants — The Federal Trade Commission, along with four state attorneys general, has obtained a court order shutting down an organization that promised to help needy people secure government grants but was accused of selling only worthless how-to books and coaching services. Under a settlement, Wealth Power Systems and Aria Financial Services were banned from marketing grant-writing programs and ordered to pay a fine of $265,000. Several other individuals and organizations were banned from marketing money-making opportunities, the FTC said in a news release.

When a "law firm" calls — The Better Business Bureau is warning residents of Texas to be careful if they receive telephone calls from people claiming to be from law firms that are suing them on behalf of payday loan providers. The callers use the name of an existing law firm and ask victims to provide bank or credit card information. The bureau cautions that you should never disclose personal financial or identifying information to people you don't know.

stuart.pfeifer@latimes.com

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