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Polk County Sheriff's Office
Friday January 15th, 2010 :: 10:05 a.m. EST
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Sheriff Grady Judd Warns Residents of Illicit Appeals to Aid Haiti’s Earthquake Victims.

Sheriff Grady Judd Warns Residents of Illicit Appeals to Aid Haiti’s Earthquake Victims

The desire to help those suffering during a tragedy is so compelling we may overlook criminal’s attempts to take advantage of our desire to help. Polk County residents are reminded to be leery of suspicious solicitors who may attempt to take advantage of the recent devastating earthquake in Haiti. Illicit appeals for donations may be disguised in emails, phone calls or text messages. With that in mind, Sheriff Grady Judd shares the following tips passed along by the Federal Bureau of Instigations.

Before making a donation of any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines, to include the following:

• Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links contained within those messages.
• Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.
• Verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations by utilizing various Internet-based resources that may assist in confirming the group’s existence and its nonprofit status rather than following a purported link to the site.
• Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files because the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
• Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf to ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes.
• Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.

Anyone who has received an e-mail referencing the above information or anyone who may have been a victim of this or a similar incident should notify the Internet Crimes Complaint Center via www.ic3.gov. For additional information on fraud, please contact the PCSO Crime Prevention Section at 863.534.6677.

“Personally, I believe the American Red Cross (www.redcross.org) is a trustworthy agency that is set up to receive donations for the Haitian recovery effort. Also, Publix Super Markets, Inc., is allowing Red Cross donations at their registers’ specifically for the recovery effort,” Sheriff Grady Judd.

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Polk County Sheriff's Office
1891 Jim Keene Blvd
Winter Haven, FL 33880

Contact
Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 863-298-6200

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