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Separate the Katrina charities from the crooks

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The desire to help hurricane survivors and their need for help, will last for months. It's easy to read heartbreaking stories on-line and want to help. But before you do, just know that thousands of websites for Katrina relief are nothing but scams.

News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright explains how you can separate the charities from the crooks.

More than 4,000 web sites want your money, all claiming to help the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. The pictures and stories tug on our emotions so that you before you think, which is exactly what the scammers want.

Rick Brinkley with the Better Business Bureau: "We tell everybody that the news story of today is the scam of tomorrow. These scammers come up from the cracks of hell and take advatange of these situations and to do that in a time of national tragedy is almost unforgivable."

The FBI recently examined 2,300 Katrina relief web sites and discovered 60 percent of them were from foreign countries, chances are pretty good that money is not coming back to American citizens. Rick Brinkley: "At this point and time, scams are so thick, I would never reply to an unsolicited email or pop up because it's just too risky to know where your money is going to end up." If you have a question, go to this web site, www.give.org and do your own investigation to determine if it's a legitimate charity and the money goes where they say.

Another hurricane scam will be used cars that were flooded, being passed off clean. www.carfax.com can tell if the car was titled in Louisiana or Mississippi plus, you should take a close look before buying. Rick Brinkley: "Look under the seats, sometimes leaves and debris will remain and look in the trunk. They might do a really good job of cleaning the vehicle, but, you can still see the water line in the trunk where the water was standing."

Scammers don't just hurt us by selling us a lemon or taking our donations, they also hurt the people who need those donations so very much.

There is a web site you can go to that will tell you where all other web sites originate. Go to www.whois.net and type in the name of the web site and you'll find out who it's registered to and where they're located. If you want to give, choose only those places you know have a proven track record.
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