This is currently happening in the state of Washington and the Washington State Patrol (WSP) has issued a release on this situation. In today's world with social communication and the Internet, these things can go viral and consumers should be aware.
"People may be interested in helping families with missing children by donating to a charity. Be cautious when responding to an emotional appeal. Give wisely by checking on the organization ahead of time, to make sure that your donation is being used appropriately by a trustworthy charity." said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois.' RELIEF
Be especially cautious about online giving.
Be cautious about online giving, especially in response to social media messages and emails that claim to link to a relief organization. If you want to give to a charity organization involved in helping missing children, go directly to the charity's website.
Am I feeling pressured to give?
Don't succumb to pressure to give money on the spot, either on the internet via credit card or over the phone. Take the time to research the charity fully; the charity that needs your money will welcome it just as much tomorrow, as it would today.
Rely on expert opinions when it comes to evaluating a charity. Be careful when relying on third-party recommendations such as bloggers or other Web sites, as they might not have fully researched the listed relief organizations. The public can go to www.bbb.org to research charities. For more advice on giving to charities and to view reports on charities visit www.bbb.org/charity.