Newtown, CT – Residents coping with the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting have become host to a group of rather unwelcome guests, and we’re not talking about journalists. Scam artists have moved to Newtown hoping to turn some community grief into a solid payday.
The family of Noah Pozner barely had time to reflect on the burial of their beloved 6-year-old before they had a reason for outrage. Though they were inundated with press inquiries and the looming potential threat of Westboro Baptist picketing, Newtown residents like the Pozners discovered a new enemy: Scam artists.
The National Post reports that an individual unknown to the Pozners was soliciting donations in Noah’s memory, claiming that they’d send cards, packages, and money collected to the Sandy Hook victim’s parents and siblings. An official-looking website was set up with Noah’s name in the url, and included gun control petitions on the homepage.
Noah’s uncle, Alexis Haller, is calling on law enforcement officials to add dealing with “these despicable people” to the Sandy Hook investigation.
“These scammers,” he said, “are stealing from the families of victims of this horrible tragedy.”
The Newtown scam artists aren’t entirely original. This type of thing happens after nearly every tragedy our nation has suffered in our recent history. “It’s abominable,” said Ken Berger, president and CEO of Charity Navigator, which evaluates the performance of charities. “It’s just the lowest kind of thievery.”
Yahoo! reports that Victoria Haller, Noah’s aunt, actually reached out to the faux-charity and got a response from one of the Newtown scam artists using the name Jason Martin. He said in his response that he was trying “to somehow honor Noah and help promote a safer gun culture. I had no ill intentions I assure you.”
Alexis Haller said the experience “should serve as a warning signal to other victims’ families. We urge people to watch out for these frauds on social media sites.”
Bob Webster, spokesman for the NASAA, is all too familiar with cons like the ones now propagated by the Newtown scam artists.
“We know cons try to cash in on headlines, and any who would even think about stooping to capitalize on the tragedy in Newtown are the lowest of the low,” he said.
The Newtown scam artists will unfortunately do whatever despicable thing they can to line their pockets with grief and human suffering, but if any are reading this article right now, we’d ask you first to look at the picture below, and then at yourself for a little while in your nearest mirror.