Superstorm Sandy spawns relief scams

FRESNO, California

Action News has already been contacted by a viewer, who said she got a phone call from someone asking for a donation to help in the relief efforts. But when the caller asked for her personal banking information, she realized it was probably a scam.

The Better Business Bureau says they're expecting even more fake charities to pop up in the coming days and weeks.

Looking at images of damage and destruction, it's only natural to want to help. But the Better Business Bureau is warning all of us to beware of fake charities, preying on you and your good intentions.

Cindy Dudley with the Better Business Bureau explained, "Americans are so giving and so willing to open to their purses and wallets and that's what the scammers count on with a natural disaster."

The Better Business Bureau says before you donate to any charity or give out your personal information, do your research. You can check out charities on the Better Business Bureau's website, or check on an organization's tax status at

In Northwest Fresno, Ellen Knapp with the American Red Cross of the Central Valley Region is reminding Valley residents they can donate on their website, in their offices, or even by cell phone.

"You can donate on your phone by texting "Red Cross" to 90999," Knapp said. "And that is an automatic 10 dollar donation that gets charged to your phone bill."

The American Red Cross currently has 2,300 volunteers deployed on the East Coast, helping in shelters like this one in Pleasantville, New Jersey.

Tuesday night, 9,000 people stayed in 200 shelters, comfort and safety, that comes at a price.

"Our work won't be over tomorrow," Knapp said. "We have volunteers that will be there helping families for weeks and weeks to come."

Right now, Red Cross volunteers in the Valley are still on standby, ready to go if and when they get the call.

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