Scam watch: Choose carefully when donating to Sandy victims


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

Hurricane Sandy -- The Justice Department and FBI are warning consumers to be careful when making donations intended to help victims of Sandy. Here are some other tips:

--Do not respond to spam emails or click on any links in the emails and instead seek out reputable organizations on their websites. Most reputable charities have websites that end with “.org” instead of “.com.”

--Do not respond to high-pressure solicitations; reputable organizations do not use coercive tactics.


--Do not give personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions. Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.

--Do not make cash contributions. Instead, pay by debit or credit card or write a check directly to the charity. Do not make checks payable to individuals.

Postal carrier -- A U.S. Postal Service mail carrier has been indicted on charges that he participated in a ring that filed fraudulent tax returns in order to obtain refunds in other people’s names without their knowledge. Vernon Harrison of Montgomery, Ala., is accused of retrieving refunds mailed to people on his route and providing them to a co-conspirator for a fee. In the scheme, perpetrators filed tax returns in other people’s names, causing refunds to be mailed before the Internal Revenue Service could determine the returns were fraudulent. Harrison was accused of stealing the refunds from the mail so victims never even knew false returns had been filed in their names.
Mortgage fraud summit – Federal, state and local law enforcement officials are gathering this week in Riverside to discuss efforts to combat mortgage fraud and giving consumers the tools to avoid being victimized. The Inland Empire Mortgage Fraud and Consumer Protection Summit is scheduled for Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Riverside Police Department. Among those participating are: U.S. Atty. Andre Birotte Jr., San Bernardino County Dist. Atty. Michael Ramos, Riverside Police Chief Sergio G. Diaz and Martin Escorza, FBI special agent in charge.


Scam watch: Internet pharmacy, tech support, IRS email

Scam watch: Online car sales, secret shoppers, resort hotel


Scam watch: Fake news sites, smartphone viruses, BBB scam stopper

Follow Stuart Pfeifer on Twitter