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Year-End Donors Must Beware of Scammers

‘Tis the season for giving, but where are your donations going? The financial distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic created a great need for our communities. This need creates opportunities for charity, but also opportunities for scammers to take advantage of our generosity. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the median fraud loss reported in California is $377 with a total of $27 million in COVID-19 related scams for the entire state.

If you are looking to make a donation this holiday season, it is important to make sure those donations go to the right organization. Identifying which organizations are legitimate can be a challenge, however, there are steps you can take to protect your donation from scammers. This article will explore tactics typically used by scammers and ways that you can protect yourself and your donation.

The charity-scammer’s toolbox is typically filled with the same tactics — they will try to lean on the sympathies of donors, often using high-pressure methods to get donations quickly. Scammers also tend to provide little information about the organizations they are claiming to benefit, and often adopt charity names that sound or look similar to reputable organizations.

As with most fraud schemes, the best defense is a skeptical mind. Asking a few follow up questions could make the difference between your donation being sent to a charity or your donation going into the scammer’s pocket. When donating to a charity this holiday season, consider the following questions as tools you can use to combat scammers:

Who is asking for money? Identify the company, charity or individual. Refusing to provide basic information about an organization or cause, such as phone number, address or website is an instant red flag.

Does the information match? Scammers often will slightly alter legitimate information from entities they are impersonating. Example: Redcross.net.us or redcross@gmail.com instead of www.redcross.org.

Does this organization authorize solicitors? Many times, scammers will use a familiar name or logo, do a quick search to see if that organization authorizes solicitors to seek donations on their behalf.

If something seems off, follow your intuition and walk away. Scammers tend to use high-pressure tactics to take advantage of a victim’s politeness or their desire to not offend the scammer. If you are unsure about the legitimacy of a charity, asking for more time to think about the decision could protect you from their schemes. Solicitors that continue to employ high-pressure tactics to get your donation even after you’ve asked for time to think about it should be treated with caution.

Consider the following tips before donating:
• Get the organization’s exact name, address, phone number and website.
• Visit www.charitynavigator.org or other reputable websites to check the organization’s status.

Search the name of the group online using key words like “scam” or “complaint” to see if there are any associations with fraud.

Keep records of your donations and make a plan in advance which organizations will receive your donations.

Donate with credit cards or checks rather than cash or a wire transfer.

When it comes to donating to charities, the more informed you are, the better you can serve the charity of your choice. No charity benefits from your money going into a scammer’s pocket. For more information and scam prevention tips visit:
www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbi-warns-of-potential-charity-... or www.fcc.gov/covid-scams

An important factor to remember when you do give is to distinguish if your donation will be tax-exempt verses tax-deductible. Learn more and search an organization before you give here: www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/tax-exempt-organization-search.

Contact the City Attorney’s Office Prosecution Unit with additional questions at (510) 747-4772, or email cityprosecutor@alamedacityattorney.org.

Wes Cheung and Elizabeth Martinez

The Alameda Sun received a copy of this letter.

The Hornet has closed. That is a stark statement. If permanent, it would mean the loss of a cultural and historical monument that has played such a pivotal role in our nation’s history.

It would mean the loss of a visceral venue that always brings wonder and awe to those who visit for the first time. It would mean the Museum would not be serving our community, especially the underserved segments, with first-class educational programs that have changed students’ perceptions of themselves and what they aspire to be. It would no longer serve as premier venue for community and private events.

The museum will reopen when the health department mandates allow but without the generous donations of our supporters and the hard work of our staff and volunteers since March the Hornet would have been in jeopardy of permanently closing. I want to express my profound and humble thanks for all who have supported the Museum and have become a part of our crew. Shipmates, if you will.

A shipmate is someone who you have served with and no matter where life’s travels take you, the bond of a shipmate can never be broken.

I want to thank the following folks for their generous donations: The Hornet Association, Mr. and Mrs. William Miklos, Dane Powell and Teresa Monkkonen, Mr. Meeks Bringle Vaugh Jr., Charles and Jennifer Bates, Captain Ray Waddell, Mr. Tim Lutz, Mr. and Mrs. Ray Fortney, Mr. and Mrs. John Roderick, and last Mr. Eugene Cunningham who donated his 1941 Packard 110 coupe to the Hornet through our car donation services! These folks’ donations have enabled to the Hornet to fund our operations and improve our business and museum capabilities.

The Christmas Season meaning is very personal. For me, it is love, joy and wonder. I wish everyone a joyous and wonderous Christmas. God bless!
Fair Winds and Following Seas,

Capt. Mark Epperson Executive Director USS Hornet Museum

Editor’s note: To support the Hornet Museum see www.usshornet.org

Although the world is complicated, kids at the Alameda Boys & Girls Club know the future is still bright. That’s thanks to your continued support throughout this difficult year. Because you’ve been here for us, we’ve been here for them.

When school and job disruptions left kids and families hungry,the Alameda Boys & Girls Club stepped in to provide food, clothes and basic necessities to survive.

When essential workers had nowhere to turn for childcare, the Alameda Boys & Girls Club extended its hours to fill this void.

When many schools remained closed and online learning was the only option, the Club provided adult mentorship to provide homework help and tutoring opportunities.

This holiday season and always, thank you for making futures bright for kids in our community. Your simple acts of kindness this year have made big impacts that will last a lifetime.

Although we were unable to host our annual Members Holiday Party this year, we were able to give each member a gift from Santa. We want to give a huge thank you to everyone that donated a gift, and to Research Park at Marina Village, Local Capital Group, Cal Sports & Orthopaedic Institute and Torani for hosting toy drives at their businesses.

We are wishing you a safe holiday season surrounded by all the simple things that mean the most. We are very grateful and couldn’t do what we do without you!

Alameda Boys & Girls Club