Officials warn Florida residents to beware of Bahamas charity scams

Al Diaz/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

If you want to donate money towards Bahama relief efforts, you may want to do some research into the charity first.

Attorney General Ashley Moody issued a 'Consumer Alert' on Thursday warning Floridians about potential charity scams exploiting Bahamian-recovery efforts. 

The Bahamas was ravaged by Hurricane Dorian after it made landfall there as a Category 5 storm with maximum sustained winds of 185 mph and 220 mph wind gusts. At least 20 people were killed and thousands of homes were destroyed or damaged. 

Relief efforts from multiple agencies, organizations, and companies are underway to assist the victims of the disaster. Attorney General Ashley Moody wants Florida residents to watch out for fraudulent relief charities or crowdsourcing campaigns that could be scams.

"Unfortunately, when we see catastrophic events like these, we also see scammers rush in to prey on the good intentions of generous Floridians. Before you give to organizations seeking donations for Bahamas-restoration efforts, please take steps to ensure your donation is going to legitimate charities and entities," Moody said.

Moody's office also included a list of tips for those who wish to donate to assist recovery efforts:

  • Never give credit card numbers, gift card account numbers or bank account information to a caller on the phone or in response to an unsolicited email.
  • Before donating over the phone or online, take steps to verify the charity or fundraising campaign.
  • Avoid solicitors that use high-pressure tactics.
  • Watch for charities with similar-sounding names. It is not unusual for scammers to choose names that sound like the names of legitimate, widely-known charities;
  • Look up charity on before giving.
  • Research and review the organization carefully to understand how much of the donation will actually go towards the work of the charity as opposed to administrative expenses and overhead.
  • Check with the Internal Revenue Service to see if the tax-exempt organization filed an annual return or notice with the IRS. The IRS requires automatic revocation of a charity's tax-exempt status if it fails to return for three consecutive years. Publication of an organization's name on the Auto-Revocation List helps potential donors determine the status of a charity. To learn more, go to and search the Charities and Non-Profits topics.

Moody also wants donors to:

  • Research the webpage creator's background and reviews before donating.
  • Know that there are many different crowd sourcing platforms, each with different terms of use and fraud investigation practices.
  • Check to see if the platform offers protections to donors should a campaign be fraudulent.
  • Determine what percentage of any funds raised will go to the charity and what percentage goes to the platform.
  • Search to see if there are any identical or extremely similar campaigns.

The United States Agency for International Development's Center for International Disaster Information created a website concerning Hurricane Dorian. It has resources and information regarding charities providing aid to the Bahamas.

Those with concerns about a fraudelent charity or crowdsourcing charity can report those concerns to the Attorney General's Office online at or by calling 866-9NO-SCAM.