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

Fraudster bought PhD online, opened psychology clinic and sent NZ government fake invoices Nigerian church collapse kills at least 160, morgues overflowing and toll expected to rise, says hospital director. Man who killed his Kiwi partner, then watched TV, jailed for 4 years Don't ask people in Yiwu, China, about Christmas. They just make it. Blasts kill 29 outside Istanbul soccer stadium Warring Australian parents rack up $8000 bill in court battle over son's surname Deadly blast targets women inside Coptic cathedral in Egypt Doctor offers pro bono lifesaving surgery to help 'world's heaviest woman' Sunday Times critic AA Gill dies after cancer battle Suicide bomber kills at least 50 Yemeni troops in Aden

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