Irma predators prepared a week out, domain names containing ‘Irma’ sell fast

(WFLA) – Rip-off artists will prey on your emotions to convince you to open your wallet for their phony Hurricane Irma relief scams.

Even before the storm hit, the sharks were circling.

Before the storm, Hurricane Irma spread chaos and confusion.

Afterward, destruction and devastation.

Many want to help.

Be wary.

“Local citizens are being solicited to provide donations as it relates to Harvey, as I expect we would see with Irma as well,” said Doug Templeton of Pinellas County Consumer Protection.

They’re coming alright, crooks cashing in on catastrophe.

“Unfortunately, there are others out there that want to take advantage,” added Rachel Nelson of the American Red Cross of Central Florida.

According to the Center for Internet Security, before the hurricane struck Florida, domain name registrations containing “Irma” sold like hotcakes.

A total of 743 new domains have been sold since September 1.

Many of them include words like “Irma victims,” “relief,” “help” and “claims.”

Are they legit?

According to Doug Templeton, there is an easy way to check them out.

Go to Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, “Check a Charity” tool. If they’re legit, they’re registered here.

“And you can also find out specifically how your money is going to be used,” explained Templeton.

Rachel Nelson recommends if you do a little homework beforehand, your money will likely end up where you want it and not in some crook’s pocket.

“Would always go to that organization directly, if you’re looking to give money and see what their policies are and make sure that they honor donor intent of where that donation is going,” she said.

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