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Scammers benefit during disasters

SPRINGFIELD -- People around the country are showing an outpouring of support after disasters last week.
SPRINGFIELD -- People around the country are showing an outpouring of support after disasters last week. But, scammers use the opportunity to take advantage of your generosity.

If you plan to donate, the state's Attorney General wants to make sure your money gets into the right hands. WCIA-3's Ashely Michels has the story.

It's a hotbed of activity for scammers. There have been three major disasters in the past week; the Boston bombing, the plant explosion in Texas and record flooding in Illinois. Everyone wants to pitch in making it prime time for scammers to hit you up.

It's been a tough week from flames to floods. A number of communities are in trouble and need help getting through each disaster. So do charity groups like the Red Cross.

"All disaster reliefs unfortunately cost money, so when we have large scale ones, we have to fund raise."

We've had three major incidents in a matter of days leaving a lot of people needing food, water and a warm place to stay. So, the Red Cross says donations are critical, now more than ever.

"This goes above and beyond. It can't be done without the American public getting together and helping."

A lot of people want to help, but there's a catch.

"The emotions take over in situations like this."

Leaving the door wide open for scammers to cash in. Since donating money can be as easy as sending a text or a click on a website, if you're not careful, your dollars could end up in someone else's pocket.

"Donors have to be aware of where they're sending their money."

The Red Cross says do research and you shouldn't have a problem. They don't want scammers to scare off help that could come in handy down the road.

"When you make a donation, if the funds exceed what this specific disaster needs, we use those funds for the next disaster because there will always be a next one."

Experts say the best way to avoid a scam is to donate to charities you've heard of before. If you haven't, do an online search to check it out first. 
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