Haiti Disaster Relief – Watch Out For Scams!

On Tuesday, January 12 2010, at 4:53 PM local time, the nation of Haiti was hit by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake, the epicenter located near the capital city of Port-au-Prince, resulting in massive destruction and an estimated fifty thousand people dead. Even government buildings, normally the most reinforced structures of any nation, were either severely damaged or completely destroyed by the quake.

Haiti is the poorest nation of the Americas that, once you study its history in detail, doesn’t appear to have ever gotten a decent break. Once a former French slave colony, the Haitian population managed to fight their way to freedom and independence, only to be ruled by successive and brutal dictators for many, many years. Even after successfully expelling their last dictator some twenty years ago, massive government corruption and ever increasing criminal activity has successfully kept the population poor and destitute, resulting in a rebellion and the technical loss of a ruling government, with a UN Peacekeeping Force now attempting to bring stability and security to the small nation.

Along with Hurricane Jeanne in 2004 and Hurricane Gustav in 2008, the population now has to survive the aftermath of one of the deadliest earthquakes ever recorded. With dead bodies strewn all over, no electricity, sporadic communications, little water, little food, no sanitary services, and severely crippled health services, the number of death resulting from the aftermath of the quake could increase dramatically over the next few weeks if action isn’t taken immediately to bring as much relief as possible to the population as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, low-lives wanting to cash in on the disaster have already set up dummy Web sites and are spreading fraudulent email spam asking for “donations,” money that will line the pockets of these individuals instead of helping out the destitute Haitian population. Do not become a victim of these fraudsters! Watch out for the warning signs and take action!

  • Do not respond to unsolicited emails asking for donations, even if the link appears to be authentic (it usually isn’t).
  • Do not click on links to charitable Web sites listed in public forums and Web blogs.
  • Do not send money to charities for which you’re unsure of their authenticity. Perform an on-line search for the name, and see if any warnings pop up.
  • For the charities you’re sure are authentic, go directly to their Web site by typing the Web address in your browser’s address bar. Do not click on a questionable link from a questionable Web site, a link which might lead you to a dummy version of the charity’s legitimate Web site.

So if you want to donate money to legitimate organisations such as the Canadian Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders, use the organisation’s name in a reputable search engine if you don’t know their exact Web address (not all addresses end with .com). Very often, the organisation’s Web site will be listed amongst the first few links.

Don’t fall for scam jobs! Make sure your donation is heading to the people of Haiti, and not in the pockets of a heartless criminal!

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