Careful where you click: Tragedies like Michigan's Oxford school shooting attract scammers


Tragedy can unite communities, shine a light on heroes and remind us once again that life is indeed incredibly fragile.

And tragedy opens the door for the scammers who know all too well how to trick us during our times of deep sadness.

People naturally are looking for updates online and via social media on the violence at Oxford High School where 11 people were shot Tuesday after a 15-year-old suspect fired more than 30 rounds, according to authorities.

As of early Wednesday afternoon, four teens were dead – Hana St. Juliana, Tate Myre, Madisyn Baldwin, and Justin Shilling.

Many times, we keep searching for answers to senseless violence and we want to do something.

At the same time, though, it’s essential to be reminded that we need to be extremely careful about where we donate money and where we click on links for information.

► Expect more online scams during the holidays: Here’s how to spot them before it’s too late

Bad actors put up harmful links

The Macomb County Memories Facebook site, for example, warned its group to be cautious when clicking Facebook links that pretend to be news about the Oxford school shooting.

“This is a new scam that seems to be circulating and they have been trying to post it here,” according to the group, which often shares old pictures and brings up memories about long-gone area retailers.

The link “leads to pages which appear to manipulate or trick users into providing sensitive information,” the post noted.

Consumer watchdogs warn that it’s pretty common for crooks to be so brazen that they’d use our times of sorrow against us.

“Unfortunately, we see scams like this appear any time there’s a tragedy such as the one that happened in Oxford yesterday,” said Laura Blankenship, chief of staff and director of marketing for the Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Michigan.

Links posted by bad actors could contain malware that would unknowingly be downloaded by anyone who clicks on them. Fraudsters are aiming to scam people out of personal information or install malware or spyware on devices.

“If malware is downloaded to a device,” Blankenship said, “the scammer would then have access to the person’s personal information.”

► ‘Intent to kill’:A visual timeline of deadly shooting at Oxford High School

How to give wisely

Another potential trouble spot: fake crowdfunding efforts.

And the crowdfunding sites are well aware of potential problems.

“Immediately following news reports, GoFundMe mobilized its crisis response team and began monitoring the platform for fundraisers for families and individuals affected by the shooting at Oxford High School,” said Angelique McNaughton, a GoFundMe spokesperson.

“When there’s an unspeakable tragedy like this, people have a deep urge to help and provide comfort to those affected,” McNaughton said.

Friends and community members often want to create a GoFundMe to support people hurt in a shooting or disaster.

Talking Tech newsletter: Sign up for our guide to the week’s biggest tech news

Careful where you click: Tragedies like Michigan's Oxford school shooting attract scammers

GoFundMe launched what it called “the Oxford High School shooting hub” as a way for donors to identify fundraisers that have been verified by its Trust and Safety team.

The hub will continue to be updated as new fundraisers are verified to support affected individuals and families.

McNaughton noted that when a fundraiser is started, money is collected by the payment processor and held until the fundraiser beneficiary is identified.

“In most cases, when an organizer is fundraising on behalf of another person or family, they will never have access to the funds raised,” she said.

GoFundMe, she said, works directly with the organizer to make sure the money raised is transferred to the recipient.

GoFundMe said consumers want to take time to review the fundraiser page to see whether there is a clear title, image, and fundraiser story. Also, check the beneficiary connection: How is the campaign organizer related to the beneficiary of the fundraiser?

If someone has any questions about the fundraiser, you can use a contact button to reach the campaign organizer. There’s also a Report Fudraiser button and clicking on that button will drive a specialist to investigate the fundraiser.

The GoFundMe Guarantee certifies that when something isn’t right with a fundraiser, donors may be eligible for a 100% refund of their donation, according to the company.

“While crowdfunding sites do a good job of making sure the funds actually go to the fundraising organizer,” the BBB’s Blankenship said, “that does not mean the organizer actually knows the person it’s saying it benefits.”

The best choice in this situation, she said, is to only give to people you know or the friend of someone you know.

It is important to move cautiously, though, when you’re dealing with an event that’s generated national news.

“It’s sad that people would take advantage of others during such an unthinkable time but unfortunately, it does happen,” Blankenship said.

Gun violence in Idaho in May, for example, led the state Attorney General to warn about scam fundraisers related to the shooting at Rigby Middle School.

The notice stated: “Be wary of crowdfunding campaigns and social network fundraising. Crowdfunding can be a great way to fundraise, but it also is an attractive tool for scammers.”

The tips included asking the person who is collecting the money what percentage of donations will be used for the charitable purpose, what’s the amount of any added fees, and what percentage of a donation goes to the platform website. Donations to individuals are not tax-deductible.

A mass shooting at a Kroger in Tennessee in October led police in the suburban Memphis area to warn about a fake fundraising effort there claiming to help the family of a woman who was killed at the store.

► Scammers are sending fake ‘store’ surveys and impersonating Amazon: Here’s what to watch out for

All sorts of fake efforts can crop up to steal money

I reported in October about a scammer who gained access to a Troy man’s Facebook account, changed the password and set up an online fundraising campaign that supposedly would cover the man’s cost for cancer treatment. He didn’t have cancer and only learned about the scam when his sister called to ask him what was wrong.

The scammer who set up the phony fundraiser in that case had already accumulated $1,785 out of a $4,500 goal by the time the man discovered the terrible fraud, according to a report with the Troy Police Department.

Never jump to conclusions or let anyone rush you into contributing money.

“Don’t assume that a request on social media is legitimate, or that hyperlinks are accurate just because a friend posted it,” according to an alert by the Federal Trade Commission.

If you think you’re donating to a charity, not an individual, consumer watchdogs say it’s best to go directly to that charity’s site. Don’t click on a link in an email.

Donors can review the charity’s tax-exempt status via a special tool at www.irs.gov.

It’s common that crooks can set up fraudulent websites for charities, which might have slightly different web addresses than the legitimate charity’s website.

Thinking about the potential for fraud is the last thing anyone wants to do when young lives are lost. But, like tragedies, it’s very much part of our landscape.

ContactSusan Tompor: stompor@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter@tompor. To subscribe, please go to freep.com/specialoffer. Read more on business and sign up for our business newsletter.

News Related

OTHER NEWS

The Army's 'universal vaccine' aims to end all COVID pandemics

© Provided by CNET The Army’s COVID vaccine entered clinical trials in March 2021. Sgt. Tanis Kilgore/US Army The rise of the COVID-19 omicron variant and resultant spike in COVID-19 cases have ... Read more »

Report: Titans Star Derrick Henry Will Have ‘No Limitations’ vs. Bengals

© Provided by Sports Illustrated The Titans star underwent surgery after he broke his foot in Week 8 against the Colts and now has a big steel plate in his ... Read more »

United expands pre-order meals, allowing for more entree choices

MSN has partnered with The Points Guy for our coverage of credit card products. MSN and The Points Guy may receive a commission from card issuers. Bon appétit, United flyers. ... Read more »

GM will spend $6.5B and add 4,000 jobs at Michigan EV factories

LANSING, Mich. — General Motors is poised to announce next week major electric-vehicle investments in Michigan, with plans to spend $6.5 billion and create up to 4,000 new jobs at ... Read more »

Berlusconi pulls out of Italian presidential race

© Piero CRUCIATTI Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi (pictured September 2020) had been campaigning behind the scenes to replace outgoing President Sergio Mattarella, although few analysts believed he had ... Read more »

Police charge woman who threatened to bring guns to school over mask mandate

© AP-Lynne Sladky Police charge woman who threatened to bring guns to school over mask mandate A Virginia mother who threatened to bring loaded weapons to her children’s school over ... Read more »

Southampton 1-1 Man City LIVE! Laporte goal - Premier League match stream, latest score updates today

LIVE – Updated at 19:00 Southampton vs Man City LIVE! Pep Guardiola’s side arrive at St Mary’s looking for a 13th Premier League win in a row, which would take ... Read more »

Julia Fox shares footage of Kanye West in the studio with DJ Khaled

Actress Julia Fox shared a video of her boyfriend Kanye West rocking out in the studio with DJ Khaled to her Instagram Story on Saturday morning.  In the footage, which ... Read more »

Adele FaceTimes With Forgiving Fans After Las Vegas Residency Postponement

While Adele and her reps have not commented publicly about the abrupt postponement of her Las Vegas residency beyond her initial announcement and a follow-up thank-you tweet to fans, the ... Read more »

5 Types of Manipulative Behavior That Aren’t So Easy to Spot

© Photo: Getty Images/Catherine Delahaye types of manipulative behavior At some point or another, all of us have exhibited and experienced manipulative behavior—it’s part of human nature to a certain ... Read more »

Cincinnati Pops Orchestra brings acrobatics to the stage

Cincinnati Pops Orchestra brings acrobatics to the stage See more videos What to watch next UP NEXT CINCINNATI (WKRC) – The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra is performing at Music Hall over ... Read more »

Best wireless earbuds in 2022: Portability meets quality

A great pair of earbuds can completely change the way you listen to music. Not only can they make your music sound much better and more immersive, but it can ... Read more »

Ukraine says batch of US military aid has arrived

The Ukrainian military on Saturday broadcast video of what it said was the first shipment of US military aid arriving at Boryspil airport amid growing tensions with Russia. (Jan. 22) Read more »

Reply all threads: The worst tech nightmare: Talking Tech podcast

Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current ... Read more »

The 10 best-reviewed Steam games in 2022

© Provided by Dot Esports Steam remains one of the most popular gaming platforms on PC. Millions of people are using it every day, and it’s not uncommon to see ... Read more »

FIFA 22 81+ Attackers 11 Players Pack: How to Complete

© Provided by DBLTAP The FIFA 22 81+ Attackers 11 Players SBC went live Jan. 22 after it was hinted at through leaks on social media ahead of Team of ... Read more »

Stock up on flavorful Omaha Steaks and save more than 50% on steaks, sides, desserts and more

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. If you miss dining at your favorite steakhouse and savoring the ... Read more »

How to Use Keyword Difficulty in Your Content Strategy

Targeting proper keywords is as crucial to successfully operate a website as creating eye-catching images or coming up with a winning URL. To assess which keywords are or are not ... Read more »

10 Things to Check Before Launching a Website

Successfully launching a website is no easy feat. Almost inevitably, just when it looks as though yours is ready to go live, it turns out that eagerness got the better ... Read more »

Xiaomi 12 Ultra rumors make me think I was too harsh on the Mi 11 Ultra

I gave the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra a mixed review, and while I stand by the middling score it received, my thoughts have softened over the last six months – ... Read more »

Tory MPs back calls for criminal investigation into partygate

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA Pressure is building on the Metropolitan police from Tory MPs who want the force to investigate Downing Street’s lockdown parties regardless of ... Read more »

Sinema censured by Arizona Democrats for blocking voting rights legislation

© Senate TV The Arizona Democratic Party’s executive board announced Saturday that it formally censured Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema for voting to maintain the Senate’s filibuster rules, effectively blocking ... Read more »

Jim Caldwell Refutes Report of Turning Down Two NFL Head Coach Interviews

© Provided by Sports Illustrated Jim Caldwell said the report of him turning down two HC interviews was not true. View the original article to see embedded media. Former Lions ... Read more »

Stephen Curry admits to frustration with shooting slump

© John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry hit a game-winning shot against the Houston Rockets on Friday night, but it did nothing to soften ... Read more »

Antonio Brown: “A couple teams called” since his release from Buccaneers

On one hand, free-agent receiver Antonio Brown has an ankle injury that needs surgery. On the other hand, he has said that it’s improving — and he was playing on ... Read more »

British astrophysicist fatally struck by stray bullet while visiting girlfriend in Georgia

A British astrophysicist visiting his girlfriend in Georgia was fatally struck by a stray bullet as he lay in bed in her Atlanta-area apartment, according to authorities. Matthew Willson, who ... Read more »

College basketball rankings: LSU, Tennessee set for Top 25 And 1 showdown on Saturday

© Provided by CBS Sports UCLA is No. 10 in Friday’s Top 25 And 1 college basketball rankings. The biggest game of the weekend is Kentucky at Auburn on CBS ... Read more »

Review: Jason Isbell is back at 100% for Charlotte show. But should it have happened?

© Myles Gelbach / Getty All day on Friday, weather forecasters were trying to get a bead on how much snow would be falling across the Charlotte region. And while ... Read more »

High school scores/schedules: Jan. 21

© . . BASKETBALL BOYS Scoreboard Friday’s Results Amherst Steele 78, North Ridgeville 59 Archbishop Hoban 58, Cle. Central Catholic 44 Ashland 77, Mansfield Madison 70 (OT) Avon 71, Avon ... Read more »

Nick Jonas' Reaction to Priyanka Chopra's Roast ‘Makes More Sense’ After Baby Announcement

© Getty Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas may not have announced their plans to expand their family, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t hints. On January 21, the couple, who ... Read more »

Susan Sarandon Remembers Rocky Horror Costar Meat Loaf After His Death: 'Big Man, Big Voice, Big Heart'

© Provided by People Jason Kempin/Getty; Talotta/Toronto Star via Getty Susan Sarandon is paying tribute to Meat Loaf by remembering him for the kind man that he was. Shortly after ... Read more »

The quest to tackle mental illness in the workplace before it even exists

One of the most frustrating aspects of a career in clinical psychology, says Dr. Nick Taylor, is that the doctor never gets to see the patient at the optimal moment. ... Read more »

Samsung QN85A Neo-QLED TV gets huge $700 price cut in today's deals

The 65-inch inch version of the stunning Samsung QN85A Neo-QLED TV is just $1,499.99 (was $2,199.99) in today’s deals at the official Samsung store. Not only is this larger size ... Read more »

Southampton vs Manchester City, live! How to watch, stream link, team news

Southampton vs Manchester City is an intriguing clash at St Mary’s on Saturday (watch live, 12:30pm ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) as the runaway Premier League leaders head ... Read more »

Arizona Democrats censure Kyrsten Sinema for voting rights failure

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images The Arizona Democratic party has formally censured Kyrsten Sinema, the US senator whose opposition to filibuster reform helped sink attempts to ... Read more »

Washington hospitals issue urgent plea to public amid COVID-19 spike

© Associated Press/Gerald Herbert Nursing coordinator Beth Springer looks into a patient’s room in a COVID-19 ward at the Willis-Knighton Medical Center in Shreveport, La. on Tuesday, August 17, 2021. ... Read more »

Michigan superintendent denies rumor that litter boxes were put in bathroom for students who identified as furries

© Getty Images A litter box. Getty Images A Michigan superintendent denied that litter boxes had been added to a school bathroom for students who identified as furries. Furries are ... Read more »

Boris Epshteyn, ex-Trump campaign adviser, acknowledges being part of 2020 fake electors plot

© Andrew Harnik/AP Boris Epshteyn, former special assistant to President Donald Trump arrives for the 2019 Prison Reform Summit and First Step Act Celebration in the East Room of the ... Read more »

Newcastle beats Leeds 1-0 for 2nd win in Premier League

© Provided by Associated Press – Sports Newcastle United’s Jonjo Shelvey scores the opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Leeds United and Newcastle at Elland Road, ... Read more »

Rangnick savours 'best' win as Rashford takes Man Utd into top four

© Oli SCARFF Just in time: Marcus Rashford (centre) scored a stoppage time winner for Manchester United Marcus Rashford struck with virtually the last kick of the game to take ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic