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Internet scams exploit generosity

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Donations for Katrina relief are approaching $600 million and scam artists are angling for a share of the money.

Scam websites seeking to defraud Katrina donors are proliferating and becoming more sophisticated, already outnumbering those that appeared in the wake of the tsunami, The New York Times reported.

Americans have given more than $580 million toward hurricane relief efforts, eclipsing the $239 million and $163 million raised in 10 days following 9/11 and the tsunami, respectively, The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported.

DonorsChoose, a nonprofit connecting public school teachers and donors through the Internet, is earmarking all donations made during the following week of the Amazon Challenge, a fundraising competition sponsored by Amazon.com, to fund projects benefiting teachers and students in affected regions, the nonprofit said.

Corporate and foundation gifts continue to pour in, including:

  • Kaiser Permanente donated $2 million Centers for Disease Control Foundation
  • Daniels Fund approved $500,000 in grants for relief efforts.
  • American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association to donate combined $1 million to Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund.
  • Carnegie Corporation of New York pledged $1 million toward relief, including $250,000 each to the Red Cross and Salvation Army.
  • GE donated $6 million to the Red Cross, is committing $10 million in goods and services and is matching employee donations, which have exceeded $1 million, dollar for dollar.
  • Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust pledged $2 million to North Carolina’s effort to help victims.
  • General Mills donated $1 million in addition to product donations.
  • Direct Relief International donated $8.9 million in medications and medical supplies.

Organizations across the country are helping by hosting events and aiding relief efforts, including:

  • Community Voice Mail, provider of voicemail services to the homeless, providing 80,000 free personal voicemail boxes for hurricane evacuees.
  • DC Improv, Comedy Spot, StandUpComedyToGo, to hold benefit Sept. 21 with all proceeds going to Red Cross.
  • i58 Projects, nonprofit relief group, creating database connecting victims with temporary housing  in neighboring states.
  • TexasNonprofits listing announcements, needs, news regarding relief efforts at http://www.txnp.org/.
  • Aidmatrix Foundation donating set-up fees for Virtual Aid Drive technology to groups raising funds for charities supporting relief efforts.
  • SCI Foundation created Hurricane Katrina Sportsmen-women Relief Fund with donations directed to law enforcement divisions of state fish and game departments participating in relief efforts.
  • Cystic Fibrosis Foundation offering free cystic fibrosis drugs to victims.
  • American Dental Association created ADEA Assist to match offers of help with programs in need.
  • Foundation Source provided a list of six recommended relief organizations already providing services to victims.
  • U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development has established a toll-free line for victims: 888.297.8685.

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