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Fake Boston Marathon charity solicits donations online after tragedy

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CINCINNATI - Social media served to be a tool in the wake of tragedy in Boston, connecting people, sharing information and serving as a grieving space, however; it didn't take long for scam artists to take advantage of social media to try to make money.

After two explosions near the Boston Marathon's finish line caused three deaths and more than 140 injuries Monday, fake charities and bogus pleas for donations starting popping up on Twitter.

Following the chaos, someone created a fake Boston Marathon twitter account promising to donate $1 for Boston Marathon victims for every retweet.

"For every retweet we receive we will donate $1.00 to the #BostonMarathon victims #PrayForBoston," read the tweet sent by the Twitter account @_BostonMarathon.

Twitter users flagged the account after noticing it was brand new and was not verified. The account has since been suspended and its creator is not yet known.

To avoid scams by fake charities, experts recommend:

  • Be wary of any site that solicits you directly. Do not donate money over the phone unless you are sure you know the charity. Also, request the information in writing.
  • Avoid unfamiliar websites. Technological advances don't make all websites legitimate donation spaces. Contact charities directly before sending over money.
  • Be wary of charities with similar-sounding names. As with the fake Boston Marathon account, scam artists will often choose a similar name of the true one in hopes that donors will mistake the hoax for the real one.
  • Be skeptical if they only take cash. If a charity seems anxious to take your money and will only accept cash, you may want to think it. Also, write checks out to the name of the organization, never to an individual.

Other fake charity operations popped up on Twitter following other tragedies like Hurricane Sandy and the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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