Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

May 24, 2013

Scammers seek to profit


— We’re disgusted we even have to write this editorial.

As residents of Oklahoma City and its suburbs barely start the process of picking themselves up off the ground, we’ve already received warnings from state police about scammers looking to make a quick buck off the misfortune of others.

Towns were erased off the map by the rage of a top-of-the-scale EF-5 tornado. With the tornado stretching more than a mile across, its 17-mile path was unbelievably devastating.

The search for the missing has nearly come to an end, with 24 on the books as victims. Ten of those were children. Those who did survive have likely not yet even begun to struggle with the decision of whether to rebuild or move on. Though the authorities have yet to say how many homes were destroyed, it’s clear it’s a decision hundreds will have to make.

None of this takes into account the emotional trauma, not only of those affected personally but also those whose hearts broke across the nation as news reports came rolling in.

Many want to help. It’s the way we are here in America. These types of situations tend to bring out the best in people.

Unfortunately, these situations also tend to bring out the worst in some people. But don’t let that keep you from helping the victims and their effort to rebuild their lives. Just be smart about how you do it.

And that’s why the Indiana State Police has sent out an advisory about how to avoid scams.

Here’s the advice offered:

Be skeptical of those going door-to-door or making phone calls to residents claiming to be collecting for tornado relief. If you are contacted by someone asking for donations, ask questions. Ask the person collecting for credentials, what organization he or she represents, and if there is an address to which donations can be sent.

If you are approached and believe someone is trying to scam you, try to get as much information as possible such as a name, description of the person, description of the vehicle including color, make and license number, then contact police.

Further, they advise, the best way to contribute is to donate money and other needed supplies through known legitimate organizations. Visit www.ok.gov/okstrong for information on donations.

We encourage you to help if you feel so inclined, but we also want you to make sure your hard-earned money gets into the hands of the people who really need it.