In the aftermath of the Allen mall shooting, the community is doing its best to help those affected by the tragedy. From collectively building a memorial for the victims to organizing vigils, people all over are showing up and looking for ways to help families grieving the loss of loved ones. Fundraising campaigns have been arranged for victims, some still recovering from their injuries and their families.
But the community spirit and need for connection are seen as an opportunity by some. According to the Better Business Bureau, not all fundraising accounts asking for donations are legitimate. “The crooks are good,” Monica Horton with the BBB told KHOU11. “They will use pictures and family names and post these crowdfunding requests without the family's permission.”
In fact, fraudulent crowdfunding accounts are so common, the BBB created a special section providing donors tips on how to distinguish fraudulent accounts from legitimate ones, including avoiding duplicate efforts and vague descriptions, checking the crowdfunding site’s rules and keeping aware of emotional manipulation.
“Scammers love to con people out of money by telling overly dramatic tales that elicit an emotional response,” reads BBB’s site. But in cases like the Allen Premium Outlets shooting, distinguishing dramatic tales from real-life tragedy might be trickier than usual.
However, the BBB notes that not all fundraising accounts online are fraudulent, and many legitimate campaigns exist to help those affected by the shooting. Another tool provided by the Bureau is an online tracker to look up existing scams which might help donors stay away from them and still be able to help out.
“We want people to give, and we want them to still give generously. But you need to take a step back, do your research, and make sure you are, you know, donating money that's going to actually reach the victims who need it,” Horton said.