Oxford high school tragedy is expected to attract a variety of crooks

Tragedy can unite communities, bring heroes to light and remind us once again that life is indeed incredibly fragile.

And tragedy opens the door for crooks who know too well how to cheat on us during our times of deep sadness.

People are naturally looking for updates online and via social media on the violence at Oxford High School where 11 people were shot on Tuesday after a 15-year-old suspect fired more than 30 rounds, authorities said.

By early Wednesday afternoon, four teenagers had died: Hana St. Juliana, Tate Myre, Madisyn Baldwin and Justin Shilling.

Many times we keep looking for answers to senseless violence and we want to do something about it.

At the same time, however, it is essential to remember that we need to be extremely careful about where we donate money and where we click on links for information.

“Intent to kill”: A visual timeline of a deadly Oxford high school shooting

Bad actors set up harmful links

The Macomb County Memories Facebook site, for example, has warned his group to be careful when clicking on Facebook links that claim to be information about the Oxford school shooting.

“It’s a new scam that seems to be circulating and they’ve tried to post it here,” according to the group, which often shares old photos and conjures up memories of long-gone retailers.

The link “leads to pages that appear to manipulate or trick users into providing sensitive information,” the post notes.

Following: Oxford secondary school video ‘absolutely cold’, sheriff says

Following: Oxford school officials met with the suspect the day before the shooting day to discuss his behavior

Consumer watchdogs warn that it’s quite common for scammers to be so brazen that they use our moments of sadness on us.

“Unfortunately, we see scams like this popping up every time there is a tragedy like the one that happened in Oxford yesterday,” said Laura Blankenship, Chief of Staff and Director of Marketing for the Better Business Bureau. Serving Eastern Michigan.

Links posted by malicious actors could contain malware that would be downloaded unknowingly by anyone clicking on them. Scammers aim to defraud people by stealing personal information or installing malware or spyware on devices.

“If malware is downloaded to a device,” Blankenship said, “then the scammer would have access to the person’s personal information.”

How to give wisely

Another potential problem: bogus crowdfunding efforts.

And crowdfunding sites are well aware of the potential problems.

“Immediately after the reporting, GoFundMe mobilized its Crisis Response Team and began monitoring the fundraising platform for families and those affected by the Oxford High School shooting,” said Angelique McNaughton, spokesperson for GoFundMe.

“When there is an unspeakable tragedy like this, people have a deep need to help and comfort those affected,” McNaughton said.

Friends and community members often want to start a GoFundMe to help those injured in a shooting or disaster.

Following: Police identify 4 victims who died in Oxford high school shooting

GoFundMe launched what it called “the Oxford High School Shooting Center” as a way for donors to identify fundraisers that have been verified by its Trust and Security team.

The hub will continue to be updated as new fundraisers are verified to support affected individuals and families.

McNaughton noted that when a fundraiser is initiated, the money is collected by the payment processor and held until the recipient of the fundraiser is identified.

“In most cases, when an organizer is raising funds on behalf of another person or family, they will never have access to the funds raised,” she said.

GoFundMe, she said, is working directly with the organizer to ensure that the money collected is transferred to the recipient.

GoFundMe said consumers want to take the time to examine the fundraising page to see if there is a clear fundraising title, image and story. Also check the connection with the beneficiary: what is the connection between the campaign organizer and the beneficiary of the fundraiser?

If anyone has any questions about fundraising, you can use a contact button to reach the campaign organizer. There is also a Report Fundraiser button and clicking that button will lead a specialist to investigate the fundraiser.

The GoFundMe Guarantee certifies that when something goes wrong with a fundraiser, donors may be eligible for a 100% refund of their donation, according to the company.

“While crowdfunding sites do a good job of ensuring that the funds actually go to the fundraiser organizer,” BBB’s Blankenship said, “that doesn’t mean the organizer actually knows the fundraiser. person to whom it claims to benefit “.

The best bet in this situation, she said, is to only give to people you know or to someone’s friend you know.

It is important to act with caution, however, when facing an event that has generated national news.

“It’s sad that people are taking advantage of others during such an unthinkable time, but unfortunately it does happen,” Blankenship said.

Gun violence in Idaho in May, for example, led the state attorney general to warn of fundraising scams linked to the Rigby Middle School shooting.

The notice read: “Beware of crowdfunding campaigns and social media fundraising. Crowdfunding can be a great way to raise money, but it’s also an attractive tool for crooks. “

The tips included asking the person collecting the money what percentage of the donations will be used for charity, what the additional fee is, and what percentage of a donation goes to the platform’s website. Donations to individuals are not tax deductible.

A massive shootout against a Kroger in Tennessee in October led police in suburban Memphis to warn of a bogus fundraiser purporting to help the family of a woman who was killed in the store.

Following: Fake Facebook fundraiser shocks family with cancer diagnosis

All kinds of bogus efforts can happen to steal money

I reported in October that a con artist gained access to a Troy man’s Facebook account, changed the password, and set up an online fundraising campaign that was supposed to cover the cost of cancer treatment. of man. He did not have cancer and only learned of the scam when his sister called him to ask him what was wrong.

The scammer who organized the bogus fundraiser in this case had already racked up $ 1,785 on a goal of $ 4,500 by the time the man discovered the horrific fraud, according to a report from the Troy Police Department.

Never jump to conclusions and don’t let anyone push you into paying money.

“Don’t assume that a social media request is legitimate or that the hyperlinks are correct just because a friend posted it,” according to a Federal Trade Commission alert.

If you think you’re donating to a charity, not an individual, consumer watchdogs say it’s best to go directly to that charity’s site. Do not click a link in an email.

Donors can review the charity’s tax-exempt status through a special tool at www.irs.gov.

It is common for crooks to set up scam websites for charities, which may have slightly different web addresses than the legitimate charity’s website.

Thinking about the potential for fraud is the last thing you want to do when young lives are lost. But, like tragedies, it is very much a part of our landscape.

Contact Susan Tompoor: [email protected]. Follow her on twitter @tompeur. To subscribe, go to freep.com/specialoffer. Rlearn more about the business and sign up for our business newsletter.

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