7 On Your Side: Online scammers are exploiting Black Lives Matter movement

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- As Black Lives Matter supporters advocate for reform on the street, online scammers are capitalizing on the movement for their own gain.

The Black Lives Matter movement is spurring record-breaking fundraising online.

The Minnesota Freedom Fund raised $20 million in just one day. But now bad actors are exploiting this worthy cause and people's generosity to steal personal info and your money.

"People want to support causes. People want to support Black Lives Matter. They're not aware that scammers and fraudsters are preying on their good will to turn a profit," communications expert Lelani Clark said.

Clark says watch for disruptive schemes like fake KFC and Starbucks ads that have no affiliation with the chains, which offer freebies for people who enter the stores and shout 'Black Lives Matter'.

Beware of pop-up funding sites and malicious emails or texts that want you to click and download forms.

"Yes, there's a phishing scam going around to vote anonymously for a Black Lives Matter campaign," Clark said. "People are getting tons of these emails and think they're legit. But guess what, they're not."

Clark warns never click on links, you can infect your device with malware designed to infect your computer and steal your banking information.

Legitimate sites will have http 's,' for secure on their link. Like the GoFundMe pages for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

Non-profits usually end in '.org,' like the website for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which raises money to fight racial and social injustice and end police brutality.

"There's been a huge spike in giving," said Michael Thatcher, President and CEO of Charity Navigator, the nation's largest evaluator of charities.

Charity Navigator saw close to $1 million flow through their vetted civil rights movement basket for Black Lives Matter.

"In our database for Black Lives Matter there are over seven organizations with that in the title. So which one do you give to?" Thatcher said.

The big takeaway, check out credentials on CharityNavigator.org to see if a non-profit is registered, and also to check their rating.

Research when and where the domain was established. Just like with coronavirus scams, many sites that go live in conjunction with recent events are bogus.

And last, if the charity wants you to wire transfer or donate with iTunes or gift cards, disregard it.


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