Fraudsters exploit shooting victims

CHRISTINA REXRODE AND ROBERT RAY
Last updated 12:14 20/12/2012
Noah Ponzer
A LOVED BOY: Noah Ponzer was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Relevant offers

World

Australian woman helped her nephew rape her daughter Australian man's face sliced open in grisly chainsaw accident Australian MP boasts of hunting elephant and eating it Man jailed for sharing photo in Russian social media crackdown Man stabbed by stranger in Melbourne CBD UK politician receives over 600 rape threats in one night Cathay Pacific announces launch date for new Auckland to Hong Kong A350 service Philippines' Rodrigo Duterte to work from 1pm to midnight every day US boy challenges police to a dance-off Former Indonesian president 'rejects' death penalty

The family of Noah Pozner was mourning their six-year-old who was killed in the Connecticut school massacre when their sorrow was compounded by outrage.

Someone they didn’t know was soliciting donations in Noah’s memory, claiming that they’d send any cards, packages and money collected to his parents and siblings.

An official-looking website had been set up, with Noah’s name as the address, even including petitions on gun control.

Noah’s uncle, Alexis Haller, called on law enforcement authorities to seek out ‘‘these despicable people’’.

‘‘These scammers,’’ he said, ‘‘are taking away from families and the spirits of dead kids.’’

It’s a problem as familiar as it is disturbing.

Tragedy strikes — be it a natural disaster, a gunman’s rampage or a terrorist attack — and scam artists move in.

It happened after 9/11. It happened after Columbine. It happened after Hurricane Katrina. And after this summer’s movie theatre shooting in Aurora, Colorado.

Sometimes fraud takes the form of bogus charities asking for donations that never get sent to victims.

Natural disasters bring another dimension: Scammers try to get government relief money they’re not eligible for.

‘‘It’s abominable,’’ said Ken Berger, president and CEO of Charity Navigator, which evaluates the performance of charities.

‘‘It’s just the lowest kind of thievery.’’

Noah Pozner’s relatives found out about one bogus solicitation when a friend received an email asking for money for the family.

Poorly punctuated, it gave details about Noah, his funeral and his family. It directed people to send donations to an address that the Pozners had never heard of.

It listed a New York City phone number to text with questions about how to donate.

When a reporter texted that number Wednesday, a reply came advising the donation go to the United Way.

The Pozner family had the noahpozner.com website transferred to its ownership.

Victoria Haller, Noah’s aunt, emailed the person who had originally registered the name.

The person, who went by the name Jason Martin, wrote back that he’d meant ‘‘to somehow honour Noah and help promote a safer gun culture. I had no ill intentions I assure you.’’

Ad Feedback

Alexis Haller said the experience ‘‘should serve as a warning signal to other victims’ families. We urge people to watch out for these frauds on social media sites.’’

- AP

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content