The grief that has befallen families in Newtown, Conn., is unthinkable in itself, but the fact scammers have moved onto the scene like vultures raises the tragedy to another level.
We should not be surprised at the gall and greed of some individuals, however, considering that scams have become a standard part of the aftermath of almost any major tragedy in the United States. It happened after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, after the Columbine shootings, after Hurricane Katrina and the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo.
Alabama had more than its share after the tornadoes last year.
In the aftermath of 26 deaths in Newtown, someone began soliciting contributions in the memory of 6-year-old Sandy Hook Elementary School student Noah Pozner, according to an Associated Press report. The person claimed to be collecting cards, packages and money for Noah’s parents and siblings. A website was established in Noah’s name.
Alexis Haller, the boy’s uncle, called law enforcement authorities and asked them to find “these despicable people.”
“These scammers,” he added, “are taking away from families and the spirits of dead kids.”
Charity Navigator President and CEO Ken Berger calls it the “lowest kind of thievery.”
Grieving families do need help and there are ways that concerned people across the nation can provide aid. But be careful responding to pleas broadcast by social media, websites and phone solicitations. If a caller is not forthcoming about an organization or is pushy or relays an unreasonable sense of urgency, the best response may be to hang up the phone.
The Alabama Press Association distributed a message from the Newtown Bee to newspapers in our state concerning how to donate to families in Connecticut.
The Bee reports that United Way of Western Connecticut and Newtown Savings Bank have formed a partnership to provide support services to the families and community. Donations can be mailed to Sandy Hook School Support Fund, c/o Newtown Savings Bank, 39 Main St., Newtown, CT 06470. Credit card donations can be made at newtown.uwwesternct.org.
Authorities should vigorously pursue any person or group suspected of trying to pocket donations intended for the Newtown community and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.
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