While different charitable organizations work to send money and supplies to Hurricane Katrina victims, four people allegedly tried to use the tragedy to boost their own bank accounts.
Fairfax County police said two Manassas men and a Manassas woman, along with a Warrenton man, allegedly solicited donations on behalf of various charities Sunday afternoon in a Reston neighborhood.
“They approached citizens as they walked or drove by, asking for money and saying it would go to charity,” said William Walker, department spokesman.
Isaac M. Beavers, 22, and Marie S. Golden, 22, both of 9266 Byrd Drive; Nicholas P. Flint, 19, of 8386 Tillet Loop and Joseph J. Murphy Jr. of Warrenton were released on summons to appear in court for solicitation violations, police said.
A resident in the 12100 block of Sunset Hills Road called police around 4 p.m. thinking that the four looked suspicious, police said.
“Our officer checked with the charities they claimed to work for, and they had not heard of the suspects,” Walker said.
Walked also said that police saw a red flag when the four did not have a Fairfax County solicitor’s license.
“All bona fide charities have one,” Walker said of the license.
Walker declined to say what charities the four claimed to work for or how much in donations they received.
Attempts by the Potomac News & Manassas Journal Messenger to reach the suspects were unsuccessful.
Scams during times of tragedy are nothing new, though.
Following Sept. 11, 2001, and the Asian tsunami last year, several individual collectors and Web sites tried to profit from people’s good nature by soliciting false donations.
The National Consumers League said donors should just give to charities that they know and trust, such as the Red Cross. Ask people soliciting donations what charity they work for and then contact the charity directly to confirm. Also, confirm that charities are properly registered by contacting their state charities regulators, which are listed in the state government pages of telephone books.
Anyone who notices disaster-related fraud should call the National Fraud Information Center at (800) 876-7060.