Scammers taking advantage of Boston and West tragedies - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Scammers taking advantage of Boston and West tragedies

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It's been a week of tragedy. Three people were killed in twin bomb explosions at the Boston Marathon Monday, more than 180 others injured. Two days later, an explosion kills 14, injures more than 200 people and damages 80 homes in the small Texas town of West. Twenty four hours later, the suspects in the Boston bombings kill a police officer, critically injure another, and shut down a major American city for almost 24 hours.

It's during times like these, that good-hearted Americans band together. It's also when then not so good-hearted take advantage.

"The reports began within an hour of the (Boston) explosion," said Dan Parsons. "One hour."

Parsons is with the Houston Better Business Bureau and is referring to scams aimed at taking advantage of this week's tragedies in Boston and West.

"They are not stupid," said Parsons. "They go where the action or, pardon the grotesque report, the blood is. They go where the bad stuff is."

There are legitimate charities. Volunteers at the Houston Food Bank spent part of their weekend collecting non-perishable items to send to West, where dozens of families are suddenly homeless.

Generous animal lovers also pitched in with a drive of their own.

"We instantly put together a little campaign to gather food and any donations for pets that might be displaced," said Jessica Barker, of Barks 5th Avenue.

But when it comes to unrecognizable organizations, specifically those that pop up online or have telephone representatives, Parson says it's important to do your research before making any monetary donations, especially if you're using a credit card.

"There's this helpless feeling we have here thousands of miles away," Parson said. (We ask ourselves) ‘what can we do? What can we do to help the situation?' And lets be honest (we want) to make us more full filled."

The answer, he says, is to step back.

"Stop and see what the need is going to be."

Just like there was a need for blood donations after September 11th and for shelter after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, there will be a need for people in Boston and here in Texas, but there will also be new methods, bad guys can try to take your money.

"Social media, anytime you get avenues of mass communication, you're going do more good and you're gonna do more bad."

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