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Beware of Haiti donation scams, say officials

The FBI, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, and Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice are warning donors to relief efforts in Haiti to watch for potential scams.

Fake charities and scam artists emerged in the aftermath of disasters such as Hurricane Katrina. Scammers can steal donations and the identities of donors.

Some tips to avoid fraud:

Do not respond to unsolicited e-mail messages seeking donations, and do not open any attachments from people you don't know and trust.

Verify the legitimacy of any charity on the Internet.

You can check www.charitiesnys.com for the charity's financial reports. Some scams will use names similar to well-known charities to confuse donors. Make your contributions directly to known organizations and not to third parties.

Ask how your money will be used, and whether the group has done work in Haiti before. Choose charities that use a large portion of donations for relief work and not operating costs. Do not give personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions. Do not send cash, and avoid giving credit card information over the phone or by text.

Alert the attorney general's office to potential scams at 212-416-8402 or 516-571-3505.

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